Looking and Understanding Visual Art is Easy – if You Know How
Remember the other day? When Berlin was melting away? The day I was a non-painting, spider-sceptic artist that felt the urge to look at someone’s else’s art for once (yes, that does happen, as much as I love my own works) and yet not willing to step outside her heat-blocking walls?
Yes? Good. Because nothing has changed.
Browsing through MoMA’s Online Art Collection
Yay! So much art! Idon’tknowwheretostaaaaart!
Why don’t we start with something familiar? And by this I do not necessarily mean artists that most of us already know but artworks that play with familiar images. No, no worries I’m not going to start talking about my own art in sheep’s clothing… Who do you think I am? I’m German, I will throw my artworks and thoughts straight into your face if I feel like it. (Yes, you can read that as a threat – or insult, since I haven’t thrown anything yet).
Not Only Landscape Art Relates to Your Last Weekend Trip
As I was saying, familiar imagery that just got twisted a bit and by doing so turned into really cool works of art (highly subjective influencing methods at play). No, I’m not referring to those lovely mountain and seaside aquarelles you saw on your last vacation. Gosh, you’re a tough little nut, aren’t you? I mean … oh forget it, just hit that link and take in some Roy Lichtenstein art.
I’m not going to give you an introduction to Lichtenstein’s work – MoMA does that wonderfully right here. Also let’s just look at pictures first. And yes, it’s a bit a paradox me telling you to just look at the darn pictures while I keep blabbing on.
But seriously, the artworks first. Don’t read what it’s all about just now.
Why You Should Look at the Artworks before Reading the Artists’ Statements
Simple, you want your own life become part of the work. Yes, you do. You can’t escape it anyway. Your background, life experience, opinions and prejudices, let them all out and melt with the artwork. Now look at it. What do you see? How does it make you feel? Probably very different from my own sensations contemplating the same works. And most likely quite different from what the artist or critic has to say about it. And that’s not only ok, that’s great!
That’s why this blog is called Angela, Looking at Art. And not “Let’s hold hands and have the same emotional reaction to everything we experience in life”.
Agreed, so far I haven’t talked much (obviously not at all) about my looking at art. But we’re still in kindergarten, making sure we’re all on the same level before we hit the real… I mean, start school.
Back to Roy Lichtenstein
But why on earth did I make you view Lichtenstein’s works of all 77,000 artworks offered by MoMA’s online collection?
Because he made art that’s based on comic strips that are based on soap opera like life experiences.
Today’s lesson is about relating your life to what is shown to you in artworks. If you cannot relate to art per se (total generalization at play) you might be able to relate to comic strips or soap operas. And if you can do that, you’re almost set to relate your life experiences to Roy Lichtenstein’s works.
Once you understand how that works – and as importantly – let it happen, you’re good to go to look at art on your own without fearing you don’t get art. You will see something in it. Whether you like it or not – well, honey, that’s quite a different question.
No, don’t say it. Keep that one for yourself – for now. I said we’re still in kindergarten. And today was about you associating your own life experiences with what you see in an artwork. Not about “But what makes it art”. That’s for another (far far away) blog post.
What’s up Next?
So, as you figured – and probably hate me for that already – I’m not telling you what to see in an artwork. But hey, next time I will tell you what happens to me when I look at Jutta Koether’s work! Don’t know her? Even better!
Let me peek into your diary! What drama in your life pops up in your head when you look at Lichtenstein’s works?
Don’t be shy and leave a reply!