y husband took me on our second date to the Utah arts festival. It was awkward. He didn’t talk much and I felt like he really didn’t want to be there. I would see some art and say something like, “This is pretty cool.” or “I don’t really like this one.” and he would look at me give a non-committal nod and we would move on. We didn’t have much fun that night. After the date my Mom asked me. “Was he fun to go around and look at art with?” My reply? “No, not really.” Looking back I don’t know why I kept going out with him, but I’m glad I did.
After we had been dating longer. We had a conversation about looking at art. He told me he felt so awkward that night because he didn’t know how to look at art. It had never crossed my mind until that point that anyone could think there would be a right and a wrong way to do it. So Just in case anyone else feels the same I’m here to give you all the secrets to know how to look at art.
How to Look at Art in Two Easy Steps
1. Look at the art (easy so far right?)
2. Have a thought about it: The thought should be your very own. It doesn’t have to be what the person next you thinks or what the artist thinks. It’s your very own thought. Some examples could be, “cool.” “weird”, “whats so great about mailboxes.” “That painting looks like barf.” “I don’t get it” “nice colors” “I like it.” “I hate it.”
That’s it! Pretty easy right?
Just a few More Thoughts on Looking at Art
- I believe art should communicate something to the viewer. If you look at art and it doesn’t make a connection with you move on. It could be the artist sucks because they didn’t communicate what they wanted to OR you aren’t the intended audience. Either way it’s not your problem.
- There is a reason why Norman Rockwell is more widely known than Jasper Johns. It’s because Norman Rockewell’s art speaks to a wider audience. It doesn’t mean one is better than the other. An audience is an audience after all.
- Sometimes artists like to create art with underlying meanings and deep symbolism and sometimes they just want to paint mailboxes in the sun. As the viewer you also have to freedom to get only a picture of mailboxes in the sun or read deeper into it.
- You’re free to like or dislike any art you want to, but it’s a good idea to look at it before you make up your mind.
Now go forth and enjoy some art. Here is a good place to start.