2 Requirements for Appreciating Art:
1. Look at it objectively without prejudice
2. Know enough information about its relationship to history and culture
-Not created for external demands (unlike graphic design and advertisements, it’s internally motivated)
-Non-verbal language, looking at art is like hearing a foreign language for the first time
-Content rather than subject matter (not an one sentence “answer”)
-“That’s terrible” really means “I don’t like it” Learn to be aware of personal preference
-If you bring the wrong set of expectations to a work of art you won’t be able to “get it”
-Most people spend an average of 10 seconds looking at a work of art. It’s going to take longer than that to “get it”
How to Look at Art:
-Describe it objectively without interpretation (a skill that needs to be practiced)
-Make subjective connections (this makes me think of_______)
-Analyze the content of the work
-Interpret and judge
-Artists communicate in a different language they learn through making art
-Line, shape, space, value, color, texture, etc.
-Artists make a series of decisions based on their knowledge of their visual vocabulary
-If it’s in a book or on a screen it’s not actually the work of art
-Pictures can’t communicate scale or subtleties
“Art may not ‘mean’ anything in the literal sense, but like the atmosphere preceding a storm, it puts us into a frame of mind for pondering the timeless questions of existences and meaning.”
The above outline is based on the book Getting It: A guide to understanding and appreciating art by Becky Hendrick.
How to critique a specific work of art:
I. Describe What You See: What are the elements of the image?
- Start simple.
- What are the building blocks that make up the image?
- Take your time and absorb the experience of the work.
II. Analyze What You See: How do the various elements work together?
- Speculate about why the artist made certain choices.
- What are the areas of emphasis?
- In what tradition is the artist working?
- Is there an overall plan? What is the overall effect of the individual elements?
III. Interpret: What is the significance of what you see?
- Examine and explain the cause of your response to the work.
- Use adjectives and analogies to describe the sensory experience of the work.
- Think of a theme that could explain the response prompted by the work.
- The meaning of a work of art should be tied to elements previously analyzed.
- Be imaginative, let your mind roam for possibilities beyond the obvious.
IV. Judge: Give thoughtful and fair judgment.
- Start by defining the criteria/standards used in evaluating this particular work.
- Do your normal criteria adequately match the style of the work before you?
- Has the artist told the truth in the best way possible according to their worldview?
- Have all the artist’s choices worked together to create a cohesive whole?