How To Write About Art

After watching a concert, visiting an art gallery, or passing by a photo exhibit how do you write about your impressions? Your impressions are important because those may contribute to a deeper knowledge of a subject. Such fresh knowledge may even help others to act or decide on a situation or light up their day and make them feel better.

Preparing to Write About Art

Why do you visit an art gallery or watch a music or dance concert or play? For many people, going to the movies or watching television has become part of the weekly routine. The tube's remote is the first object they touch as soon as they come home. Soap operas and fantasy shows or films of any genre are natural means of escape from the heavy demands of work or relationships. Clicking on the moving images, the viewer's goal is often merely to cozy up on the couch and let the hours fly until sleep takes over. 

On the other hand, going to an art gallery or watching a concert demand the audience to be fully present. All art implicitly requires special attention from its viewers or audience. The visual artist mounts a series of sculpture or paintings which takes many days of contemplation, energy and diligence. The concert artist spends arduous hours of disciplined practice to perfect his sound. The actor go through rigorous rehearsals to come up with a realistic portrayal. Their effort is too individual to ignore. Each of their uniqueness is on display, their gifts courageously out there for all types of lookers. Watching and listening to their masterpieces give birth to new thoughts, new feelings, and new perspectives. Their usually passive receivers become "tasters" of a slice-of-life through a full comprehension of sound and images.

To Write About Art is to Share an Impression

In order to enjoy an art work some questions must be asked -- to test, to weigh, to see through the elements of the art piece on display.

1. What do you expect to see in an art show? How does the title of the exhibit strike you? What thoughts come to you just by thinking about the title of the show?

2. What do you see when you get to the art show? Does it meet your expectation? Can you put your general impression in one word?

3. Which work among those exhibited strikes you most? How are the elements of art manipulated in such work? (Think about color, lines, shapes, texture, balance, perspective)

More than re-creators, artists are purveyors of causes and beliefs, ideas and ideologies. But artists are also often handicapped by the limits of their medium.  

1. Have you read about the artist? What are his usual subjects? Does he have a motif? Does he repeat himself?

2. For this specific art show, does he have a theme? How does he use his art to put his content across?

3. How does his choice of medium inform his art? Or does it? 

A product of their time artists labor to become timeless. 

1. If the artist conveys an impression about life, how is this still relevant today?

2. Is the artist conveying a feeling or emotion? Are you able to relate with it? Do you have an experience which you can associate with this artist's expression?

3. Are you looking at an art piece that requires you to think more about it? What is the initial concept of the artist? What are his motivations? Can you grasp this context and are you able to situate this concept at this present time?

It's normal to doze off in the middle of an opera, to get distracted during an art show, or to walk out while a play is still going on. However, these reactions don't make the creative act meaningless. The viewer, however, loses a moment of insight. To gain most from the experience, the viewer must allow the art work speak for itself however long it takes. Art's higher calling is to affirm everything that has shaped and continues to shape humanity. To miss this from both the artist's and and viewer's end is to be less appreciative of what makes us truly unique in all of creation. 

How to write about art? First, read about an artist's book about an artist.

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