What Jami Attenberg says about the value of reading fiction holds for the value of looking at art paintings:
Fiction is a magic trick of sorts. But at its best it doesn’t just conjure up an imaginary world; it makes the real one disappear; it makes the author disappear. Only a book can do this—let you lose yourself so completely. So, if you can, forget about everything else. Just be there with the book.
(Quoted from page 13 of the March 26, 2017 issue of The New York Times Book Review.)