Why you shouldn’t read descriptions of visual art – Newsmax | Candle Made Easy

First principle of appreciating art: Don’t read (or listen) when looking at fine art. Just look! When you encounter paintings or sculptures, let the art speak to you alone. Or not.

Also, while visiting a museum or gallery, if you are viewing art firsthand rather than through secondary images (websites, catalogs, etc.), don’t read the poster with the artist’s name and the title of the artwork… until maybe later.

Why? Art is a two-way interaction. Every (good) artist represents reality and human conditions/concerns aesthetically according to personal values-ideas-emotions-observations-experiences. Every art viewer also brings something with them her personal values-ideas-emotions-observations-experiences to participation/interaction with the artist’s views expressed through a physical presentation that is the art.

The same mutual creative-receptive interaction applies to other art forms, but written descriptions, explanations and pronouncements by the artist usually accompany fine art exhibitions, so caution is advised.

Great art expresses universals applicable to life and dwelling. An artist’s personal life art experience and/or motivational process in creating art may later be interesting to learn about after the initial art experience is over, but when viewing art in reality or secondary modes as mentioned above, the art experience is the art experience only when it happens, not together with written material explaining the art or the artist’s intention.

A recent experience by this author may suffice as an example: I was scrolling through a website with over two dozen paintings and sculptures that had recently won a prestigious, juried competition with the idea that my NYC-based non-profit arts foundation – American Renaissance for the Twenty – first Century (ART) – like many other art organizations, may give an additional cash prize to a selected artist.

ART’s criteria for advocating any art is excellence in aesthetic beauty and life-enriching content – that is, beauty of form and positive-uplifting values ​​(content) expressed in the art. (Each awards organization has its own criteria for judging art, but these are ours.)

I came across a finely executed painting of a young (probably adolescent) girl looking thoughtfully at an object in her hand; The object was not visible. Her long blond hair was exquisitely detailed, her facial expression intelligent and thoughtful, her body graceful, her clothes neat and attractive – in short, here was an image of a pretty young woman in pleasant reverie contemplating a valuable item, and technically rendered from the hand of a sensitive artist.

Spring, I thought, “This corresponds to the high claim of ART to merge form and content and not only to bring joy to the eye, but also to bring meaning to the moment of viewing and food for thought.”

That’s when the title caught my eye: “STILL”. My reaction narrowed: What exactly is she looking at that the word “STILL” would convey?

I gleefully searched my own memory bank to imagine what image might give her such pleasure. A photo of a deceased grandmother who still lives in her heart? A poem to be treasured forever? What from her past – “Still” – is causing that look of sweet connection on her face?

My mental activity is what I brought the experience of she Experience – the value interaction between art and viewer.

Next I read the accompanying explanation of the impetus – meaning – behind the painting, written by the artist, the young woman’s mother. She painted this picture of her daughter because the girl was about to go to college and she (the mother) would miss her terribly while she was away, also because she knew that this first departure from home was the beginning of a more permanent one came when her daughter would embark on a life of her own after college, separate from the intimate family cocoon.

She captioned the picture “YET” because, as she explained, her daughter has “still” been home for the past few days. She – the mother-artist – then revealed that the object the girl was staring at in her hand was… your phone.

So what picture was she looking at, I wondered now? A “selfie”? A game? A college curriculum? An archaeological site? Did it matter? No! Because what they— the subject of the painting — experienced had nothing to do with the painting.

What mattered was the experience of the mother artist. Her maternal love was obviously valid, but it was her own feelings that preoccupied her, so the painting had no meaning of its own, other than that of a young woman looking at something in her hand, in this case the everyday object of a cell phone.

The painting was beautiful and could have had universal meanings—reverence, memories, hopes—but now I knew that was the only reason why the art became more meaningful I as a spectator I brought my own value system with me. I learned them once of the artist That means it was all over for me.

Not only no award for the artist, but an annoying experience for me as a person. What a self-centered artist. How subjective their vision. What a waste of my imagination and pleasure in imagining.

Moral of the story: When looking at art be with the art. Why the artist chose a subject, what it means to them, how they executed the work can all be fascinating. But not during the art experience itself. And also afterwards … maybe worth it, maybe not.

Warning: look. Enjoy aesthetics and merge with meaning (like she see and interact with). Or not.

Our deepest values ​​through strong emotions and physiological dynamics are heavily engaged when viewing art. Projection is also part of merging with art and that is precisely why contemplating our values ​​in the physically manifested forms of art can be both a spiritual and an aesthetic experience.

Art is not a game. Art speaks to our soul – the core value of our identity – for better or for worse.

Seeing, feeling, thinking, imagining, reacting and being With that’s what art is about. Read? Fine. But be selective about what and when. And prepare to learn more than you want to know.

Alexandra York is an author and Founding President of American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART), a non-profit arts and culture foundation based in New York City (www.art-21.org). She has written for many publications including Reader’s Digest and The New York Times. Her latest book is Adamas. You can now find more information about Alexandra York here.

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