I was standing in line at the Brooklyn Museum with a friend who is a writer/curator, we were there to see the Sargent watercolor show. Behind us was an attractive woman and it wasn’t long before my friend who was single had engaged her in conversation. They were getting on famously, they were flirting, she liked his wit and he liked her responses. So by the time we got our tickets I was convinced that I was going to view the exhibit alone; it had happened before.
The reasons I enjoy looking at pictures with him are that he is knowledgeable, opinionated, passionate and I like seeing pictures through someone else’s eyes. On our walk to the elevator they were deep in conversation and when we got in I pressed the button for the 5th floor, the floor for the Sargent show, and she pressed the button for the 4th floor. My friend froze and his mouth dropped, it was the floor for ‘Feminist Art.’
“You’re not going to see the Sargent show?” he asked “Perhaps later,” she replied.
It was a slow elevator in the Brooklyn Museum and from the ground floor to the 4th, my friend engaged in an impassioned plea on the dangers of the compartmentalization of art. He argued that ‘Feminist Art’ hurts women because great art is great art and singling women out diminishes women, and that you don’t call Jane Austen a great female writer, you call her one of the greatest writers ever; Elizabeth I or Catherine the Great weren’t great female monarchs, they were great monarchs who changed history and Marie Curie was a great scientist, period. He said that you can’t qualify greatness in gender terms, it demeans greatness.
He was unconvincing and when we arrived on the 5th floor we were alone. As we walked into the Sargent show I thought about his dilemma: his need to be right as opposed to his need to get laid.