I am no art expert and would never presume to explain it to anyone. But I fell in love with art history (classic, impressionist, modern - you name it) in college and took so many elective art history classes that I ended up with a Minor in Fine Arts.
I'm sure real art connoisseurs will just cringe, but here's what I do to keep art - even the stuff I can't make heads nor tails of - fun and interesting:
- I like to know about the artist. If I'm going to an exhibition of a particular artist, I try to find out as much about her/him as I can. It lets me know what to expect and gives me a little insight into the whys and wherefores of their art. If I run across an artist I don't know much about at the museum, I find a crumpled piece of paper at the bottom of my purse and scribble out the name and work. I can look it up later, right?
- I always look at the work of art first and make up my own title before checking the identifier card. It's amazing how often I "get it" after really looking at the scribbles or splotches or weird stuff glued to a bedframe. Sometimes I'm absolutely right - my title of "Crazy Night at the Circus" might actually turn out to be something called "The Circus of Your Nightmares," or some such thing. But just as often, I come up with a much better title than the usual one for works of modern art, which is "Untitled." At least I give it a go, even if it turns out to be something like, "Toddler Makes Big Mess with Jam Sandwich." 'Way better than "Untitled #69," don't you agree?
- I really study the medium of the work. I want to see the relief of the paint glops and the canvas showing through charcoal or pencil up close and personal. So I get close. Front. Left. Right. Does anything show through?
- What caught my eye first about the work? How did I look at the elements of it - in which order? Why? The colors? The pattern? I dissect the parts of the art, even if it's the ugliest, stupidest thing I've ever seen. Something hit me about it right off. What and why?
- Lastly, I back off and give it the "forest" look, as opposed to the "trees." Take in the whole thing. Hm. Then I move on.
Don't know if that helps, Elsie, but give it a try sometime. Have fun with it. And yes, there is a lot of stuff out there - even famous stuff - that is just crap to me. Stuff that lacks passion or light/dark or fun or meaning. Stuff that just doesn't speak to me. But I'm always pleasantly surprised when a work that at first glance looks like something the dog did on the sidewalk this morning turns out to be quite interesting if I take the time to look closer.
Anybody else have "Fun with Modern Art" viewing suggestions?
It's Friday, by the way. In case you hadn't noticed.