The art world seems to enjoy manufacturing these walls of elite status which I have (a.) never felt like I was on the inside of, and (b.) enjoy chipping away at every now and again.
For example, someone I know recently wrote to me about a new painting of mine that she saw. She said:
“I’m not great with my art knowledge, I only know what I like and I am awed by your work below.[Julian & Lilya-Sade] I love the technique and effect. It’s as if there is texture, dimension, and I feel that you’ve captured the lightness and darkness in a way that draws me in wanting to get closer to see “how did he do that??” And while I don’t know the people in the picture, you’ve captured or created such sweetness, shyness, and prettiness in them thatI want to meet them.”
You see,here is a beautifully articulate and thoughtful comment (that was also very flattering) yet it starts with the phrase “I’m not great with my art knowledge”. Well my response to this person is that they do know plenty about art and, in all honesty, she communicated what she liked about the work better than I could have.
I hear comments like this all the time and I’m constantly trying to counter the notion that if you’re not inside those walls then you can’t appreciate art. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yet this concept of an elite status undermines that very simple concept that no one can tell us what defines good art.
In order to break down those walls, I like to compare visual art to music. Here is another art form which has a seemingly equal number of styles and unique variety as the visual art world. However, consumers of music seem to have far more freedom to say what they do and don’t like when it comes to music selection. You don’t ever feel like you need to know or explain specifics about song writing, poetry, rhythm, or instrumental technique in order to appreciate good music. People are able to simply identity that which moves them and enjoy it. So why should visualart be any different?
Now, as someone who did not study fine art, I can say that the more I do learn about certain techniques or about a specific artist has broadened my appreciation to some degree. So I’m not saying that you do not need to learn about artists or about art styles but you should not let that lack of specific knowledge hinder your enjoyment but inspire you to learn more.
So I challenge you to find art that speaks to you. Look for images that make you feel something that you can’t quite explain, and that you find yourself staring at in great length. Don’t even try to explain why it makes you feel this way but just enjoy it. On the contrary, feel free to acknowledge art that does not make you feel anything. That reaction you will get from beautiful art cannot be forced upon you so don’t feel like you’re missing anything when the title or a statement about the piece leaves you more lost.
Justremember, the most intelligent music critic could write all they want, and award shows can honour them, but nothing will ever convince you that Nickelback makes good music.
Enjoy thatwhich is beautiful.