(Reading time two minutes)
In part one I talked about the first steps in understanding art. I am working with a basic premise: you must participate in understanding some art fundamentals in order to make educated observations about what you are looking at and what you may want to purchase.
Step one: look at the best of “world art”: DaVinci, Picasso, Van Gogh, realism, impressionism, abstraction. Simply let yourself absorb it without judging it. My mom doesn’t like Picasso, but that’s just because she’s not trying hard enough! It is important to understand that the masters of several centuries ago were masters of realism. Realism gave way to impressionism and impressionism gave way to abstraction. The one thing that all of these artists had in common is that they understood form. In order to stretch form, you must understand form. The fundamental building block of two and three dimensional art is form.
Looking at the early works of Picasso, it is easy to see how well he understood form. This allowed him to “abstract it”. The greatest jazz musicians like John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis were all masters of their instruments, but also understood musical form and structure. You have to know the rules before you break them. So as the artists themselves had to understand the fundamentals before they could progress, so must we as viewers.
Step two: Now ask yourself: what do I like and why? It can be simple: I like the colors; I like still life paintings; I like wildlife; I like to be able to recognize what I am looking at.
Getting back to the wine analogy, once you understand the characteristics of what makes a good or great pinot noir or merlot, you can then start to appreciate what it can be or should be. You are also able to make an educated decision as to why you like it. So even if at the end of the exercise you decide you still like you neighbours home made plonk, you now at least have made the effort to understand the process.
After reading both parts of this article, you should have come to this conclusion: In order for me to make educated choices about what I like and what I would like to own, I will participate in understanding basic fundamentals about art such as where the measuring stick is, what the artist’s “intent is”, the importance of form and basic observations of my own as to what I enjoy.
When you stand in front of a totem pole, its obvious that it took a lot of work and skill. It is also obvious that the carved figures must represent something, but what, we are not sure. A book about interpreting totem figures would not only help us identify the creatures and the lore behind them, it would also allow us to enjoy the carving on another level. That, in a nut shell, is what participating in the process will give us.