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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

"I may not know much about art, but I know what I like."

People who use this tired cliché don't realize that they're actually saying, "I like only what I know." They're missing the rich experience of art by not opening their minds to art of all kinds. The more I learn about art, the more art I like. I visit websites, museums, galleries, art schools, art fairs; I read magazines and art monographs to see works that have stood the test of time and new works on the leading edge of the visual arts, experimental work by developing artists, and current trends in fine arts. My appreciation of all types of art has grown by leaps and bounds.

Artwork that flouts academic standards or offends public taste usually attracts a lot of attention, but is it art? Is it good or bad? In spite of all the rhetoric for or against, only time will determine what is "good" or "bad" art. Ignore what the critics say: decide for yourself what you think about art. Don't stop looking at art because you're afraid of what you might see, and don't limit yourself to viewing art you already know you like. You might miss something wonderful. Study art history, and look at art at every opportunity. Visits to exhibitions greatly enhance your appreciation and understanding of art.

A work of art is more than a visual sensation. An artist's personality, technical skills, and knowledge of design merge to reveal that artist's unique concept in visible form. Sometimes the only way you can begin to decipher an artist's meaning is to overcome your own misconceptions: First, the idea that you have to like it in order to appreciate it; second, that if it isn't similar to your art, it has no merit. People who feel threatened by new art are stunting their own growth. Artists who try to validate their art by finding fault with art that's different are doomed to mediocrity. Those who think they have "arrived" are probably nowhere.

Whether or not you "like" a certain artwork has no bearing on its merit as art. Art isn't always pretty. Some is difficult--even painful--to look at, yet it succeeds because the artist has used the tools of art--design, materials, and technique--masterfully to underscore a deeply felt truth. Try to see beneath the surface of the object, to imagine the artist's experience while making it, his or
her unique viewpoint. Your own struggle to become an artist gives richer meaning to what you see and allows insights into processes and possibilities. Enter the experience with an open mind and you will leave it with a fresh perspective on your own art.

"Art is an experience, not an object." Robert Motherwell

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3 Comments:

Blogger Human Warnings said...

The danger of just valuing art which you IMMEDIATELY like, is that you will only like the most superficial art. The danger of STUDYING art in order to "understand" it, is that you will end up liking bad art, simply because you invested time in it.

REAL art, is Both immediately likeable, but requires a certain amount of investment as well.

3:57 PM  
Blogger LadyPegasus said...

I must beg to differ! I have heard this theory before and went on to study pieces of art I did not like, only to find that nothing changed. I did this a LOT to make sure. I also allow for myself degrees of like and dislike and realize that some pieces may indeed grow on one, however rare it may be.

Overall in art, as well in many other things in life, I know what I like whether I have studied it and am knowledgeable about it or not.
This is VERY true in things such as music, for me. I do not need to know the band's info, or even the bands NAME to know if I like a song or not. While it does help to know the song's name if I wish to obtain the music and the artists name is likewise helpful they are still neither one a REQUIREMENT to know if I LIKE it or not.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Mary Soracco said...

Just because I know what I like when it comes to art does not mean that I'm unwilling to like new things. I find new-to-me art that I like every day. I have no desire to become entrenched in the elitism that "knowing a lot about art" entails. I enjoy it for the aesthetic pleasure it brings me, here and now, and always thirst to see new things and interpret them in ways that speak to me and cause me to think organically.

9:49 PM  

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