My own ingress into Andy Freeberg’s art comes, perhaps rather oddly, via literature. His photographs instantly reminded me of W. H. Auden’s poem, “Musée des Beaux Arts.” As you’ll recall, the poem is a meditation on Pieter Brueghel’s painting of Icarus’s stunning fall from sky to ocean. You may also remember this momentous event takes place as people move blithely on with their mundane lives, failing to hear “the splash, the forsaken cry…” that marks nothing less than a mythic event. Auden, like so many other philosophers and poets, explains that there are two worlds existing simultaneously — and the one laced with majestic import will likely be inexplicably forsaken for the usual “doggy” and dull life.
Similarly, in Mr. Freeberg’s photographs, we see the confluence of preoccupied folks and works of art that are nothing short of an inflection of the numinous. It should be noted that the people in his photographs are primarily museum guards who sit beside embodied magnificence — distinctly unaware that there’s magic in the room. For instance, in one image, a woman sits with her back turned to “Icon of Saint January and Saint Sebastian.” If the Hermitage doesn’t qualify as sacred ground, then what does? Even the subject matter— icons, to be exact — suggests a vertical ascent to which one has access. However, it would require that daily “stuff” be jettisoned for the extraordinary, the miraculous.
Again and then again, Freeberg shows us stellar art blithely ignored by “guardians.” We see sculpture, both new and ancient, religious art and contemporary paintings all given the same blasé treatment by people hired to ensure their preservation. Au fond, they ignore Icarus’s spectacular descent. This strikes me as somewhat tragic; however, there’s a deftness in Freeberg’s work that let’s me know he knows. And that makes all the difference. It’s tongue in cheek, even humorous. In fact, I’ve decided to lighten up a bit and find my own magic space. Front row center. I’d love to request a chair from which to enter Mr. Freeberg’s beautifully conceived and executed work in West Hollywood. Icarus might fall. But I’ll be watching and waiting — absolutely certain magnificence will capture rather than elude me.