'The art that matters to us—which moves the heart, or revives the soul, or delights the senses, or offers courage for living, however we choose to describe the experience—that work is received by us as a gift is received.'
Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property,
Vintage Books, New York, 1979, p.xii
In The Gift, Lewis Hyde examines the idea of the gift, and the work of art as a commodity. He draws a connection between the assertion that the creation of a work (the talent that creates it and the inspiration that drives it) is a gift, and the idea that after it has left the artist's hands it can still be experienced as a gift—'when we are touched by a work of art something comes to us which has nothing to do with the price.'
Articles about gifts to the Gallery are usually pretty standard. They talk about 'our' gratitude, and 'magnificent additions to the collection'. Which is fine. But what they don't usually do is talk about how it feels to receive that gift—the excitement of unwrapping it, the surprise. They usually dwell more upon where the work takes the collection than where it might take the soul.
In the last few years, the Gallery has been the recipient of a number of acts of truly extraordinary generosity, and what follow is by no means intended as an exhaustive roundup of these. Perhaps it's best viewed as our Christmas 'out of office auto-reply', but over the next few weeks of blog posts, Gallery staff talk about how it felt to get some of their favourite presents of recent years.