At root, we go to art, whatever its form, to be changed. To alter our perception, to see something new or something we have seen before in a new way, to contemplate the mysterious, the beautiful, the joyous, the awful, the searing.
The best art upends our world, shatters our assumptions, pierces our ignorance and venality. It inspires question upon question, wonder upon wonderment, and as it does so, it assaults us physically—roiling our stomachs, fluttering our hearts, goosebumping our necks, disturbing our sleep.
All art aspires to these things if it is to be worthy of its name.
In this post, I want to discuss three related works of art that in my estimation accomplish all—or at least a good deal—of the above.
1. Tightrope walker Philippe Petit’s unparalleled 138-foot traverse between the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York City in 1974.