Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Art of Gift Giving


The art of gift giving is about celebrating life. It is about joy, laughter, mirth, amusement, and a smile that you share with another.

Portrait of Louis XIV (1638-1715) as Jupiter Conquering the Fronde
Charles Poerson (1609-67)

During the reign of Louis XIV, about two centuries before Wagner proclaimed his doctrine of the Gesamtkunstwerk, the blending of the arts into a unified experience was already an aesthetic ideal. 

The Fisherman and the Syren (1856)
Lord Frederic Leighton (1830 - 1896)
Private Collection

Louis XIV (5 September 1638 - 1 September 1715), Louis the Great or The Sun King, would have been a difficult man for whom to buy a Christmas present, for he had everything under the sun. A similar dilemma is often times faced by today's holiday shoppers while seeking the ideal gift this holiday season. 

What does one buy for those whom one wishes to express a sentiment of appreciation, for those whom one wishes to evoke a smile, for those whom one wishes to share in a moment of wonderment and delight? 

Often times the question: "What would you like for Christmas, Chanukah, or Day of the Kings?" is asked when trying to decipher what to buy someone".  

What an awkward question to be asked. Think about the look on your own face when someone asks you this question. 

Biondina (1879)
Lord Frederick Leighton (1830-1896)
Victorian Neoclassicism

Unless someone you know is specifically saving up to purchase something unique or special... like a piece of art, a new guitar or even a Smartphone, more than likely the question will be reacted to with a sense of guilty appreciation. This turns gift giving into something stressful or daunting.

How does one spin this dysfunctional holiday dalliance 
into a beautifully orchestrated Viennese Waltz? 

By allowing the character of the individual upon whom one wishes to bestow a gift of gratitude be your holiday shopping guide. 

Gift Giving
(by category)

What does one give the artist in their life? Perhaps...

A painting, an engraving, an exquisite piece of porcelain sculpture, or an antique tool their favorite artist might have used to inspire their next painting or piece of art. 

What does one give the musician in their life? 

Season tickets to the symphony, a beautifully illustrated book on the history of their favorite instrument, an antique brass sheet music stand, or time in a studio to record their latest song or musical score. 

What does one give the writer in their life? 

A first edition of their favorite book, an antique royal book stand, a stylish new writing instrument, a beautifully hand blown Morano table lamp for their library, or even a letter of declaration, a beautifully written, heartfelt sentiment of appreciation that a writer would relish. 

What does one give the explorer in their life? 

A personal satellite to enable communications from remote locations, a new camera lens or helpful gadget for documenting interesting finds, a rare book on survival techniques and strategies, or an antique compass for finding their way back home. 

What does one give the historian in their life? 

A beautiful leather bound journal from Florence, a letter or official document or ancient correspondence bearing a famous signature or seal, a vintage bottle of their favorite wine, a relic from a historical society, a pair of antique spectacles belonging to a beloved historical figure, or a subscription to their favorite archaeological digest. 

What does one give the sailor in their life? 

An authentic 18th century half-circle surveying/pelorus instrument (Graphometer), a handcrafted antique wind-up music box, a late 19th century brass telescope for star gazing, or a quality navigational instrument to aide them in their voyages. 

What does one give for the technology lover in their life? 

A handcrafted thumb drive, a mummy cord wrap for keeping their earbuds untangled, a mini iPhone scanner that saves favorite photos into digital ones, a fine and rare Cuff-type folding chest microscope c. 1800s, a small tortoise shell magnifying glass, or a beautifully illustrated book on the history of invention. 

What does one give for the art collector in their life? 

A painting or first-edition memoir written by or on their favorite artist, credit with Christies International, an antique easel that only an art aficionado would cherish, or paints from Sennelier, the shop where Pablo Picasso, Cézanne, Gaugin, and many other famous artists purchased their particular shades that helped to transform the world's understanding of artistic creation.

Whether you are purchasing a 19th century Cartier bracelet or antique harp, or making someone a beautifully bound leather photo book, or making a bouquet of beloved trinkets or collectables, it is not so much what you buy as how you approach giving. 

Gift giving is an event. It serves as an opportunity to share in a special moment of enjoyment for someone for whom we care or appreciate. It is about the laughter that springs forth, the smile that overtakes, the poetic rhythm associated with a vitality that radiates from the soul when one is presented with a gift that demonstrates that they are understood and appreciated by those who care about them. 

Whatever you give, be it your time, your talent, or your extraordinary ability to find a rare or nostalgic object, it is the symbolic gesture of individual appreciation that each person appreciates, enjoys, and remembers...

1 comment:

Bob Bruhin said...

I'm not a difficult man to buy for. I would be quite happy if somebody bought me a Syren like the one the fisherman has.