By Madison Krystyniak |

“Everyone’s a critic”—Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants.

I consider myself a sarcastic person, which also means I am a major skeptic. This skepticism is at its worst when it comes to subjective endeavors like art appreciation. I think most artistic pursuits are overrated (to put it politely). True artistic talent is rare, and I do not believe a person should have to “work” to appreciate or find beauty in a piece. Modern art is especially pointless, and if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I am not beholding much beauty in paint splatters, blocks of color and soup cans. Realist and pointillist works, on the other hand, have always impressed me due to the amount of skill it takes to complete such intricate paintings.

I am usually not one to seek out art galleries, but I have been to quite a few for school and during family trips. Whenever I went to Vienna, Austria, on our free travel weekend, visiting an art museum was the last thing on my list of things to do. Somehow (maybe I was overwhelmed with the scenic beauty of the city, or maybe it was one too many espressos fogging my brain), we ended up at the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien on our second day there.

I was unenthusiastic about the visit, mostly because I was scarred by my most recent visit to the Guggenheim in New York City. For my twenty-first birthday, I went to NYC with a group of some of my best friends. My friend from preschool (yes, someone has tolerated and stuck by me that long) wanted to go to the famed art gallery while we were there. My friends and I were reluctant, but we indulged her. Needless to say, I did not enjoy the visit. The current featured artist was beyond strange, and my disdain for modern art was only further reinforced—I swore I would never go to another art gallery in my life unless required by a college course, or another life altering reason. I called on my southern determination and the likes of Scarlett vowing to “never be hungry again!” (not that I am ever dramatic).

When my Baylor in Budapest friends and I decided to go to the Kunst Museum, I was not in the least thrilled at the idea. However, I figured at the least I could entertain myself by making fun of the art and putting funny Snapchat filters on the paintings. My mindset was completely twisted. I was an art enthusiast’s nightmare.

Upon our arrival to the Kunst Museum, I was stunned at the intricacy and beauty of the building’s architecture. But, no, I was still not excited to tour the museum I was not in a particularly happy mood, to say the least. I thought to myself, “this is why I traveled across the globe? To spend my time feigning interest in musty old paintings?” My mind was quickly changed as I stood in front of the first painting.

There is something to be said about seeing the work of a gifted artist in person—the depth and detail of a master cannot be depicted in a photograph. The art was breathtaking—it came as a shock to me that I wanted to stay in the museum for more than five minutes. I recognized the names of famous artists, such as Vermeer, and I wanted to see them in person to judge for myself.

I am clearly not an expert on anything concerning art. However, I was truly taken aback while visiting the museum. I really wanted to appreciate all the details and colors in the pieces, especially during a time where resources to create art were expensive and scarce. Do not get me wrong, I could tell you little to nothing of the composition of a piece. And, I will not be found at a local Waco gallery, holding a plastic cup of wine, openly opining. I can only explain that on some level I was emotionally moved by the artwork in Vienna.

During our short visit, I was really drawn to the religious pieces. I am a Christian, but I do not really go to church or Bible studies often. Viewing these pieces was a different kind of religious experience. The artists were evangelizing through their paintings. I felt like I could see the face of God (as cheesy as it sounds) and I was almost in tears walking through the art gallery. This was a stark contrast from my attitude upon walking in the museum.

My experience at the Kunst Museum changed my mind showing me art is absolutely not overrated (except for most modern art, modern art is still overrated). The encounter taught me to be more open-minded and to leave my judgements and preconceived notions at the door, quite literally.

So, from one art skeptic to all the others, give it a chance—you might just be pleasantly surprised at what you discover.