Friday, June 30, 2006

How to Look at Art

So perhaps this is in response to richard's post. Perhaps not.

Either way, for a while now I have been wanting to post some of my favorite art pieces a la Kristen and Tulip Girl, but today's Comment article on "Looking at Paintings" inspired me to get on with it, if you will.

I encourage you to read the entire article and begin looking at art in a new way. Of course, this topic also might have something to do with the fact that I am currently reading The Story of Painting. For fun. I think this one by Janson & Janson is out of print, but you could always read Sister Wendy's version, I imagine it's similar and probably more entertaining. I found this one at a thrift store for $.30 and it's worth at least $13. It's good stuff-- quite a thorough, yet succint overview.

Below, taken from the aforementioned article, is a helpful guide for looking at any painting, whether postmodern, Pre-Raphaelite, or pop-art.

Questions to Ask a Painting
By Russ Kuykendall

  • What is the subject of the painting?

  • What is the craft that produced the painting? That is, how did the artist get the gold metal she portrays to gleam like metal, or achieve the illusions of perspective? Or, what are the aesthetic relationships of the medium, colour, and brushstrokes?

  • Who painted the painting? What do we know about the painter and his craft that might add to our understanding of the painting?

  • What is the historical context and the worldview of the painter and her painting? What was the historical community to which the painter belonged? The school of painting, the political community, et al.?

  • Does the painting have a narrative? If so, what is it?

  • What does it provoke? What do I like or dislike about the painting? What can I take away from this work?

  • How does this painting stack up—not as a narrative—but as a work of art? What will people a century from now think of the piece as a work of art?

  • © Work Research Foundation 2006

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