How to Look at Great Art-Tools for 01-03

How to Look at and Understand Great Art - Tools from Lectures 1-3

Lecture 1. The Importance of First Impressions (10-09-2018)

Notice where the work is displayed:
⦁ Indoors or outdoors?
⦁ Alone or with other works?
⦁ Museum, church, government building, street, park, or other venue?

Notice how the work is displayed:
⦁ Painting - frame or no frame?
⦁ Sculpture - pedestal or no pedestal?
⦁ Is the frame or pedestal suited in some way to the work?
⦁ Is the work freestanding or an installation, or does it transform the environment?
⦁ What are the work's genre and medium, and what tools and techniques may have been used to create it?
⦁ Is the work a reproduction that might lose some features of the orignal, such as texture or detail?

Ask yourself:
⦁ How do the basic features of the work and the way it is displayed affect how I see it?

Lecture 2. Where Am I? Point of View and Focal Point (10-09-2018)

Notice your relation to the scene, or point of view:
⦁ Do you seem to be seeing the work from above, below, or straight on?
⦁ Are you an outside observer looking in on a self-contained scene?
⦁ Does someone or something inside the picture invite you into the work?
⦁ Does the work actively confront you with cropping, compacting, or close-up point of view?

Notice which parts of the work your eye is drawn to, the focal point(s):
⦁ What catches your eye when you first look at a work?
⦁ How does your gaze move around the work as you explore it?
⦁ Where does your eye finally come to rest?
⦁ Is this the kind of work that doesn't have a focal point, or that has more than one? (If it's a three-dimensional work, be sure to walk around it.)

Ask yourself:
⦁ How do the point of view and focal point in this work contribute to its meaning?

Lecture 3. Color - Description, Symbol and More (10-09-2018)

Notice the colors the artist has chosen:
⦁ Are the main colors primary (blue, red, yellow), secondary (orange, purple, green), or tertiary (a blend of primary and secondary, like teal)?
⦁ Are the colors in this work analogous (near each other on the color wheel, like blue and purple) or complementary (opposite each other on the color wheel, like red and green)?
⦁ Are the colors mainly dark or light?
⦁ Are the colors high intensity (like bright red) or low intensity (like pink or maroon)?
⦁ Are the colors the same as we see in nature(blue sky) or not (red or yellow sky)?

Ask yourself:
⦁ How do the artist's color choices influence my response to the work?