Art Appreciationunderstanding Art how to View Art

Appreciating art?

This is for all the “regular Joes” who feel inadequate when it comes to evaluating or appreciating art. You are not!

Those of us in the art community have elevated ourselves with this ridiculous and entirely elitist notion that “only we can truly understand the work”. As a result, people shy away from seeking out art experiences because they are made to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome since they don’t have any formal art education.

When looking at the history of art, beginning in ancient times, through the middle ages, and into the renaissance, we see that art was largely directed at the common people. It began as cave paintings of an almost spiritual nature, became portable, utilitarian objects, then great illuminated manuscripts, finally, monumental sculptures and frescoes largely religious or mythological in nature. It wasn’t until the modern era that we began to depart from this attitude of accessible art and create this current uncomfortable environment

The true beauty, along with the real trick, of art appreciation is to bring your own unique perception. Since each viewer comes to art with their own distinctive approach, enjoying and appreciating its beauty means finding common ground between the viewer and the artist. Isn’t the piece of art the common ground? Shouldn’t we celebrate the effort and exploration by artist as well as viewer?

Certainly artists have a point of view and they mean, whatever their medium, to convey that point of view. Not everyone is going to understand or relate to the work. The viewer, formally educated or not, doesn’t always have the same sensibilities and that’s O.K.! The entirely subjective nature of art is one of its most endearing qualities, and allows any viewer to exercise their own judgment.

As a viewer, take a few moments to truly assess a piece. Give everything you see a chance. When evaluating, ask yourself a few basic questions: Do I like the color? composition? subject matter? Then, go a little deeper: Does it remind me of anything? Does it make me feel any particular emotion? This allows you to make a decision as to whether you truly appreciate the art work or not.

It is unfair to both the viewer and artist to turn eyes away from artwork based on a perceived lack of knowledge. It is precisely our own experiences and base of knowledge that bring the fullness of art to life.