I can still remember my reaction to certain works of art -- the first time I saw Mozart's Magic Flute at Covent Garden, the first time I saw Nureyev leap from the ballet stage and hang midway between heaven and earth, or the many times I stood in front of a painting by an artist I'd never heard of before and felt transported beyond my day's ups and downs.
Music, painting, sculpture, film, photography, drama, literature, poetry, dance -- each can become a means through which an artist can speak to us, transcending time and place.
I remember years ago being taken on a tour of the San Diego Museum of Art. Among the many works on display, my attention was grabbed by a small -- almost tiny -- oil painting of strawberries by Renoir. My friend, who wanted me to see the entire collection, was tugging at my arm, trying to pull me into the next room. But I was transfixed by... the strawberry! If art's true purpose is to open the doors of perception, then that uncommon common strawberry had, for that moment, opened mine.
Art has been a big part of my professional life as well, as I wrote books on two of the greatest artists of the 20th century -- Pablo Picasso and Maria Callas.
So I'm delighted to announce that today we are launching HuffPost Arts, a section devoted to covering all things artistic and cultural. Like all of our sections, HuffPost Arts will bring you the latest news. It will also be home to a freewheeling group blog in which artists, critics, curators, and those who love the arts will sound off.
Our Arts section is being edited by Kimberly Brooks, a wonderful artist in her own right, who has been writing passionately about artists and their art since the early days of HuffPost. (You can read Kimberly's blog post about the new section here.)
In fact, I am looking at one of Kimberly's paintings as I write this. It's on my wall, hanging near a self-portrait done by the young Francoise Gilot before she became involved with Picasso -- and long before I got to know her while working on my book about him.
Kimberly and her associate editor Nicole Campoy-Leffler have put together a dynamic section, and recruited some great bloggers. The section also features Patricia Zohn, who has been staking out the Arts turf for many years on HuffPost. And we look forward to having your active involvement with the section, sending tips, posting comments, voting on slideshows, and contributing your own stories and images.
So if you are an artist -- or someone who loves music, painting, sculpture, film, photography, drama, opera, dance, et al. -- check out HuffPost Arts. And let us know what you think.
Every Friday, HuffPost's Culture Shift newsletter helps you figure out which books you should read, art you should check out, movies you should watch and music should listen to. Learn more