20 August, 2008

Art Appreciation: Writing About Art

The first step in writing about art is the most important and also the most challenging- the choice of subject. The subject chosen should be accessible, within one’s scope of comprehension and make for interesting and inspirational writing at the same time. Further, while approaching a work, it is essential to analyze the context.

When you enter a museum, are you gripped by its aura and sanctity or do the hallways remind you of other places? Usually, museums are designed in such a manner so as to portray a work of art as “free” or sans any external influence and distractions. The walls are white, the environment bears pin-drop silence and the floors are carpeted so as to smother the sound of footsteps. Even after so much precaution, a work of art remains far from “free” because our analysis and appreciation of a piece (positive or negative) is based on individual perception which is governed by the world and our experiences outside the museum walls. Therefore, the purity and sanctity of art is bound to be adulterated. Therefore, the ideal gallery is one that removes all sources of interference and displays art in its actual context. Furthermore, once a subject is chosen, it should be looked at with a “blank” mind; i.e., you should curb your desire to relate it to personal memories and experiences because personalizing it would snatch away the intellectual facet and mystique and most likely, make readers lose interest in the essay. An effective way of creating an interesting an thoughtful essay is to chose a piece you like and try to create a “dialogue” between yourself and the painting. Try to express “what the painting wants to say”. Imbibe a sense of exploration while writing about art as it adds more dimensions and sustains the reader’s interest.

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