Wells

How to Look at Great Art-Tools for 07-09

How to Look at and Understand Great Art - Tools from Lectures 7-9

Lecture 7. The Illusion - Getting the Right Perspective (12-11-2018)

Notice how a sense of depth and distance is created in a two-dimensional work:
⦁ Do you see evidence of linear perspective - horizon lines, vanishing points?
⦁ Are background objects proportionally smaller than foreground objects?
⦁ Are background areas of the picture less detailed, distinct, and brightly colored than foreground areas?
⦁ Can you detect any distortions or lack of consistent perspective in the picture?
⦁ Are you aware of any anamorphic forms or trompe l'oeil?

Ask yourself:
⦁ How does the artist's manipulation of perspective affect the way I see the work?

Lecture 8. Art that Moves - Time and Motion (12-11-2018)

Notice whether the work suggests motion or the passage of time in any way:
⦁ Are there repeated depictions of the same character in one work?
⦁ Are there processions in the work?
⦁ Is the composition cropped, or are there unstable poses, suggesting future movement?
⦁ Are there optical illusions that seem to move when you gaze at the picture?
⦁ Does the way paint is applied suggest strong, active gestures by the artist?
⦁ Does the work actually physically move in some way?

Ask yourself:
⦁ Does this work suggest movement or passage of time, and if so, what does that contribute to its meaning and my response to it?

Lecture 9. Feeling with Our Eyes - Texture and Light (12-11-2018)

Notice how texture is created:
⦁ Walk around a sculpture and imagine what it would feel like to the touch. Is it rough or smooth?
⦁ For a painting, use a raking light (or stand at the extreme edge of the picture) to see whether the actual texture of the paint is thin and smooth or thick and textured. Imagine what it would feel like. (Don't touch!)
⦁ In a painting, how are soft objects, like fabrics and feathers, made to look soft? Are there little dabs of white paint that suggest hard surfaces?

Notice how light is used:
⦁ Can you see where light is supposed to be coming from?
⦁ How are shadows used? Do they create a sense of mass and volume? A sense of mystery?
⦁ Are shadows gray and black, or are they just darker shades of other colors?
⦁ Are there strong contrasts between light and dark in this work?

Ask yourself:
⦁ How does the artist's use of texture and light affect my response to this work?