Monday, May 3, 2010

“My five year old could have done that!”

Art. It’s complicated. We all have our views on what is art and what’s not. And we all have our views about what’s good art and what’s not.

A lot of people don’t give art a chance, but here are some ways to give it a chance, to allow it to speak to us, some ways we can open our eyes and hearts and minds to all kinds of art.

Art can be simple, powerful, baffling, dumb, beautiful, complex, silly, funny, mystifying and serene. Just like the people around us.

And just like people – if we give art a chance we can gain a lot.

And just like people, we can’t help having an instant first impression – that’s ok. Don’t worry. That’s normal.

Go with that, and then use these three ways to give art a chance: Description, Analysis and Interpretation.

But first – here is one incredibly important handy hint that helps with understanding art ... Sneak up on it! – look at it sideways – surprise it from behind, if you can.

A surprised artwork will give up its secrets more easily than one that is approached head on with a swagger.

Description.

You’ve already snuck up on the art – it has shown you its face and you have had your first impression.

Take that first impression, give it a grin and pop it in your back pocket. Ask yourself some describing questions.

What do you see?

Has the artist used colour? What kind of colour? How many colours?

How has the medium been used? Roughly? Smoothly? Thoughtfully? Angrily?

Is the work textured? Hard? Soft? Does it make you want to touch it?

Are there lines? Shapes? Is it 2-dimensional? 3-dimensional?

Hold the answers to the description questions in the palm of your hand gently, lightly, as if you were holding a baby bird. Try not to drop them, you’ll need them later.

Next it’s time to do a bit of analysis. You’ll need to do a bit of fancy footwork while you’re asking these questions... step close to the art, shuffle away from it, nod your head knowingly, purse your lips.

Begin.

Is your eye drawn to any particular area of the artwork?

Is there anything that stands out?

Is the composition balanced? Or unbalanced?

Does the work make you think of movement?

How does the artist show movement?

Is it flat or does it have a feeling of depth or space?

Where was the artist while the art was being made? Outside? In a studio? Stuck inside her head? Off his rocker?

You’ll be able to tell - the answers to these questions are more complex, they have demanded more of you, but they are certainly not the hardest questions you’ll have to ask this piece of art! That comes in the next section; interpretation....

But before you do that – stack the answers to your questions of analysis in a pyramid at your feet. They stand alone, and don’t need to feel your heartbeat.

So... Interpretation.

What kind of mood or feeling do you get from the painting?

If you could imagine yourself within the piece of art, how would you feel?

What sounds would you hear?

Why do you think the artist made this piece of art?

Does the title of the artwork give you any insight?

What part of the artwork do you think interested the artist most? Why?

Does the work have energy, wairua?

Does it resonate with you? Or repel you?

Is there a message in the art? Is it political?

Keep looking – stare even. Look through the art, meditate with it.

Take your time to come back to now. The answers to these questions are as light as feathers, and delicate – keep them out of the wind, keep them out of the rain.

Tuck them into your handbag, pick up the answers from the floor. Take the whole lot to the gallery cafe. Order a chai latte.

Lay your answers on the table – the descriptions, the analysis, the interpretation. Take your first impression out of your back pocket – put it on the table too.

With a studied pass of your hand, meld them together – contemplate, sip, mull.

That’s how you feel about this piece of art.

It’s become a friend. Perhaps...

Art. It’s complicated – but so are you, and in your complexity you have allowed this art to speak to you.

You have opened your eyes and heart and mind to art.

It’s unlikely your five year old could have done it.

30 comments:

kōtiro said...

Oh my god everyone should read this! l absolutely love it. It's poetic! An awesome description.

I'm gonna put your questions in my bag and pull them out when I'm next in a gallery.

miss robinson you are a clever girl!

fnessm said...

Clever indeed... I'm gonna go out and find some art to sneak up on - love your work!

林韻如 said...

Beauty, unaccompanied by virtue, is as a flower without perfume.

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怡潔向霖 said...

說「吃虧就是便宜的人」,多半不是吃虧的人。 ............................................................

ElwoodK_Rank佳玲 said...

Well done!............................................................

asda said...

Judge not a book by its cover...................................................

家賢 said...

人生是故事的創造與遺忘。..................................................................

雅竹 said...

Quality is better than quantity.....................................................................

峻帆峻帆峻帆 said...

死亡是悲哀的,但活得不快樂更悲哀。....................................................................

賢林賢林 said...

人不能像動物一樣活著,而應該追求知識和美德............................................................

張怡 said...

如果成為一支火柴,也要點亮一個短暫的宇宙;如果是一隻烏鴉,也要叫疼閉塞的耳膜。.................................................................

JasonBirk佳琪 said...

People throw stones only at trees with fruit on them.............................................................

芳容222許林堅林芳容儀 said...

Of two evils choose the least.............................................................

溫緯李娟王季 said...

培養健全孩子最好的方法是父母先成為健全的人。............................................................

天花天花 said...

Of two evils choose the least.............................................................

于倫 said...

Some people cannot see the wood for the trees.............................................................

雅莊王edgd春2蕙婷余惠其 said...

人生中最好的禮物就是屬於自己的一部份..................................................

宮惠如宮惠如 said...

分享是件快樂的事!!感謝您用心的文章!! ............................................................

陳佑發 said...

一個人的際遇在第一次總是最深刻的,有時候甚至會讓人的心變成永遠的絕緣。............................................................

郭俊緯郭俊緯 said...

不會從失敗中找尋教訓的人,成功之路是遙遠的。.......................................................

姚吳宗瑞家弘 said...

成熟,就是有能力適應生活中的模糊。............................................................

明芳綠美 said...

Lets cross the bridge when we come to it............................................................

張鴻黃淑娟水 said...

Make hay while the sun shines...................................................

凱v胡倫 said...

人生像一杯茶,若一飲而盡,會提早見到杯底..................................................

瑞彥強瑞彥強瑞彥強 said...

人不能像動物一樣活著,而應該追求知識和美德................. ................................................

幸平平平平杰 said...

人生有些波折,才能有些成長,所以不論順逆,凡是成長、成功的助緣,都應該心存感激。.................................................

士文婷文婷松 said...

從人生中拿走友誼,猶如從生活中移走陽光......................................................................

孫邦柔 said...

成功可招引朋友,挫敗可考驗朋友......................................................................

王怡迪 said...

河水永遠是相同的,可是每一剎那又都是新的。..................................................