Many experts have disagreed on what should be defined as true art. This means there are certain forms of art that are art and others that look like art, but they are not it. So how do you know where to draw your line? Art appreciation is all about finding meaning in what you see, more than just “wow, that is nice!” or “I can never have that in my house.” Try to imagine for a second what the world would be without art. How dull and vague buildings would be? Well, such a question takes evokes different reactions to what should be regarded as art. There are always boundaries to draw.
Why do we study art? The main reason is that art represents the highest expression of culture, engulfed in ideas and aspirations. Art is the most prominent way of challenging assumptions and beliefs, which in turn opens more visions and possibilities to pursue different channels. When we look at modern art, for instance, we are referring mostly to fine art, which includes written works and photography. And when we talk of renaissance art, then the reality of functional arts such as goldsmithing comes into play. Autonomous art or art for art’s sake did not exist until a few years ago, yet it has challenged many art errors. Reading or looking art should not only be for entertainment but find what inspired the artist, or the author of such works.
Art does not interpret itself. When, for instance, you are looking at a particular image, it is essential to note that the message is more important than the picture. The image you behold is merely a vehicle used to drive the idea home. Art presents human emotions and thoughts in a more indirect and intellectual manner. Every piece of art has value both to the make and the person reading it. Ancient art, in particular, represented the communities they came from. In the predynastic period of Egyptian civilization, for instance, art served as the establishment of culture. Patterns of civilization started appearing in Egypt during the 6th century. Archeologists have discovered from the graves at Al-Badary, Dayr Tasa, and Al-Mustaqiddah varieties of early Egyptian art. They all paint a picture of a rich artistic and industrial culture.
When looking at such pieces, we don’t only admire their beauty but the messages they carry as well. Think of how difficult it must have been to create something out of imagination without the luxury of technology, as we see today. In this context, someone studying art can create their own difference for the inclusion of precise figures or continue further down on a specific agenda.
One of the most famous artists and critics, Jon McNaughton, who runs a Fine Art Company, finds ways to make meaning from what might seem obvious. Among his notable works is the “Via Dolorosa.” This picture depicts Jesus Christ’s certain journey of doom to Calvary with the cross on his back. From the naming of the painting ‘Via Dolorosa,’ which is Latin for ‘way of suffering,’ one can already tell the kind of emotions such an image will evoke. Is shows that road believed to have been followed by Christ to his death. This painting does not only talk about Christ but the whole of Christianity as the most persecuted people in the world.
Besides this, there are other figures McNaughton uses to emphasize his belief. His central theme is ‘good versus evil,’ and every painting presents an important representation of religion. The “Via Colosa,” at the same time defined “who is who” in the past two thousand years. All the important topics on religion can be seen in this single image. When you read about Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution, it shows Darwinism impacted Christianity in many significant ways. When you go to Marx, you will meet communism as the most significant antagonist to Christian beliefs. Come to the most recent figure, Obama, and his statement that individual salvation is dependent on collective salvation is still represented. Such an approach as Obama takes responsibility away from an individual, thus making Christianity seem useless.
One image can travel through all times of human history to create a link of understanding. Art is a media for putting forward political, religious, and social ideas. That is why different groups of people understand various pieces of art differently. Consider, for instance, Mormon art, which has always caused problems when interpreting into kitsch. On the one hand, is Mormon art that emphasizes superficial images of sacred space, and on the other hand, the kitsch art disregards deep symbolism and encouraging introspection. It, therefore, depends on the person reading the art to make meaning; however, the need for it to make sense.
The most basic steps of appreciating art are looking at it, identifying the artist, and then thinking about the meaning. The first step is simple; you only look at the art collectively and admire the creation. But once you identify the artist, more questions should start flowing through your mind. In this case, you need to consider the following factors:
- Art movement and style. Movements are terms that classify artiste of a certain period. They also sort them according to style. These movements include historical titles created by critics or historians. You may realize some of their titles are witty or simply sarcastic, but they ensure you place the art and its creator.
- History and timelines. Looking at the history and timeline of a piece of art will help you understand its position in history, therefore compelling you to appreciate the artist. Ancient art is mostly communal, so you will appreciate the society at the time and their efforts in creating a civilized society.
- The visual elements. Look at the line, shape, tone, color, pattern, texture, and the form of the art. How and why are they used? Knowing this will help you appreciate such work.
Art appreciation is all about getting into the shoes of the artist and feeling what they feel. They say art keeps the spirit of the artist alive even they are dead. You can travel to their realm and witness their experiences through their work. You just need to learn how.
Mar 02, 2020