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How to Appreciate Art – The Critical Process
Posted by TK on 12/28/2007 11:02:16 AM (ET)
Filed Under: General
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Identify the artist’s decisions and choices:

When creating a work of art, artists inevitably make certain decisions and choices, for example, the medium of the artwork, the color of a certain area, the linear perspective or the realism of the imagery.

Identify these choices for yourself and ask yourself why the artist made those choices. It is important to keep in mind that while many artists work instinctively and with spontaneity, they can redo aspects of their artwork that they feel are imperfect. The final effect is deliberate.

Ask questions:

After asking why the artist made those choices, question the title – what insight does it offer about the piece? Look at the context in which you encounter the piece – does it tell you anything about the piece? What do you know about the artist that will lend information about the piece? Is there any accompanying text that tells you more about its message and the artist’s intent?

Describe the object:

Observe both the subject matter (and how it is formally created) and how the different aspects of the work relate to each other.

Question your assumptions:

Ask yourself why you like or dislike a piece of art. If you don’t like it, ask yourself why someone else may like it.

Avoid a purely emotional response:

Art is supposed to evoke an emotional response – that is the very intent and purpose of it. Try to consider the work with a clear head to avoid letting your emotions dominate a logical response.

Don’t over-simplify or misrepresent the art object:

Art objects are complex (some more than others). Look beyond the obvious to find deeper meanings and multifaceted statements. Ensure that you have a full comprehension of all the artwork’s possible messages.

Tolerate uncertainty:

Remember that art appreciation is all about discovering possibilities – not necessarily definite truths. There is not always one correct answer.

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