Seeing Art in Person
I don't know anything about art.
We often hear this statement outside of the gallery and even occasionally when people visit our gallery. Our reply is always the same: you don’t need to know anything about art, you just need to know what you like and don’t like, leaving the rest to us. Art is all about your personal reaction based on feelings and memories that a work of art will evoke. It’s impossible for us to tell you that you are right or wrong in how you feel. In fact, it is absolutely okay if you don’t personally like a work of art, even one that the academics and museums hold in high regard.
We often host school groups at our Gallery and we always ask the students to pick out the work they like and the one they don’t like. The students are surprised when they are told it is okay not to like something. We take it a step further and ask them to explain the reasons they like certain works and not others. Inevitably, one child’s favorite painting is another child’s least favorite work. This results in a good discussion and life lesson that it is okay for people to be different and have different opinions, but still be friends.
You should never feel badly about not knowing about art. The very nature of art allows you to form your own opinions even without having any knowledge about art history. That being said the more museums and galleries you visit and books and articles you read, the more you will start to learn about art in the academic sense. People have told us how a certain artist will grow on them. In part this is because they have learned more about the artist and the meaning behind the work, but also because we all change with life experiences.
Art is about your emotional reaction that is tied to feelings and memories which you associate with a work of art. There is no doubt that as you age and experience more, both good and bad, that the same work of art will appear differently to you. It will take on new meaning for you on a personal level. That is the magic in art. The work itself doesn’t change, but your reaction to it most likely will, over time.
On the academic side of the art world, we tend to view art through a different lens, one which takes on a long-term view of art. Tobi Kahn, once said all of his works are beautiful even if they are not all pretty. In our gallery, we look for this beauty, which comes with a deeper meaning and impact of an artist and his or her body of work within the greater context of art history. However, on a personal level, we too develop our own feelings towards works and what we end up acquiring for our private collections. However, despite, our personal feelings, there is always a level of respect for artists who are genuinely striving to leave their impressions on the world of art.