I DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT ART BUT I KNOW WHAT I LIKE?
Perhaps you've gone to a gallery or art museum, looked at the artwork displayed and said to yourself, "What the heck is that? I can't understand it! Why is this here in a gallery?"
Or, maybe you've gone to a gallery or art museum and your reactions was, "Wow! Great stuff! I like this! I don't know why, but I do!"
Or, maybe you've gone to a gallery or art museum, and, after viewing the exhibits, you walk away feeling bored and disinterested. You may have said to yourself, " Why do I bother with looking at art? I never understand it. It's beyond me."
Like any other discipline, art requires the viewer to be knowledgeable about the information it presents. Sometimes we think we should just automatically understand art. After all, there it is, just hanging there on the wall and all we have to do, we think, is just look at it. But do we really SEE it? Often, our response may be, "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like."
That is just another way of saying, "What I like is really just based on my ignorance."
THE MORE YOU KNOW, THE MORE YOU CAN ENJOY
Liking a certain artwork is a pleasure. You have communicated with visual phenomena and really enjoyed the experience. It can be a very enriching, rewarding experience to know how and why an art form developed or have some knowledge of how and why an artist works in a particular way. More than likely, your perspective is quite limited if you have never studied art or know how it has developed in not only, our Western culture but all over the world.
What if you could gain information on the many forms of art that have been produced since humanity began, and how it developed over time to the present day? What would this kind of study mean to you? It would mean that, equipped with that knowledge, you would be able to enjoy a lot more art! Here's why.
The more you know about art and its development, the more you can enjoy looking at art! You will see much more and understand the context, content and style of the art form. And this is the basis of Art Appreciation-a study of how to expand your knowledge of the art world, past, present and future and, with that perspective, be able to communicate with the rich visual/creative world!
HOW TO BEGIN
So, how do your start gaining knowledge of this vast art world? Where do you begin?
Begin by dipping your toe into Art History. With a basic Art History 101 knowledge you will be able to see how art, as we know it, was not really a term until the science of Art History was developed in our western culture. And, when it was developed, as you can read in many art history books in the library, art has existed as long as humans have been able to pick up a stick, brush or chisel and record their lives and experiences.
There are several ways of learning how to appreciate art:
ONE -- Learn about the basics of art history. How art developed, from the Lascaux cave paintings to modern art today. Older art history books deal primarily with artistic development in Western culture. Newer books add developments in Asia, China, Russia and the mid-East. The study of Art History has, over time, become global. In learning the time lines and factors that produce new perspectives and styles in art, you will not only gain a new historical perspective, but also become acquainted with the various art forms produced over the past centuries.
TWO--Choose a certain period or style in art history and learn about it. Perhaps Impressionism interests you. Or maybe you've always wanted to know the difference between Op Art and Pop Art. Through studying the cultural impact of a certain style on a specific period in time, you can understand why that particular art form developed and appreciate the artwork in a broader context.
THREE--Take a tour of your local art museum. Museums offer a wide variety of art educational programs and tours of their exhibits. Or travel and see the actual art in its setting. There are many websites on the Internet listing global art tours and travel, often by geographical location or specific art and architectural styles. On site art tours offer a unique and interesting way to travel and can give you an intimate, one on one perspective with the historical art and culture of the area. Tour groups are generally small in number and conducted by very knowledgeable guides delighted to respond to all of your questions and comments.
FOUR-Visit your local art galleries often. Galleries are supportive of their artists and gallery owners and attendants are usually quite pleased at your interest in their exhibits. They will be glad to give you information on the artists, such as whether they are local, where they have shown their work, what awards they have won, and who has purchased their artwork. Keep informed of present and future exhibits. This hands on approach, connects you closely with affordable art that is available where you live and often created by artists who live in or near your area.
DISCOVER A RICH VISUAL WORLD
Art Appreciation is as big or small a study as you want to do. Whether you want to make it an occasional outing or a serious study, whatever you choose, learning how art forms have historically developed and understanding what is on the walls in your local gallery will definitely change your perspective.
Wouldn't it be great to be able to discuss a painting on the wall in a gallery, instead of shrugging and muttering, "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like."
Think of it. Perhaps your response would be more like, "I like the way this artist uses color in an Expressionistic style. The brushwork is so vigorous! There is a lot of energy in the composition. Also, the use of thick paint produces an interesting texture."
Through Art Appreciation you can discover a rich visual/creative world that will inspire you and beckon you to learn more.