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How Can I Understand Art Better?

Isi has been an artist since childhood, has taken college level courses in art, and has been president of a local co-op art gallery.

How Well Do We Understand Art Like Van Gogh’s?

“Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh, photographed at MOMA

“Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh, photographed at MOMA

How Can I Understand Art Better?

Understanding art is not very complicated when you understand a little bit about what art is. At its core, art is a form of communication. Like any form of communication, there can be misunderstandings because of how differently each person thinks. This can be overcome by taking some time to get acquainted with art.

What Is Art?

Art is more than just doodling. Doodling can be fun and enjoyed by anyone, whether the work is of any perceived quality or not. Even very small children enjoy taking a pen or pencil and making marks on a piece of paper. However, there is no intent behind the marks because the baby is only moving the pen and enjoying the fact that it makes a mark.

There have been instances of very young children creating art, and this is because their love for the creative process has been cultivated by loving guardians, and they have learned to create intentionally.

The first thing that sets art apart from doodling is the fact that it is a form of communication. The artist intends to communicate something using their chosen medium. The success of this communication depends on the ability of the audience to respond to the artist’s intent in a specific way. It also depends on the skill of the artist.

How Are Your Art Communication Skills?

Tamara de Lempicka - Telephone Irinaraquel

Tamara de Lempicka - Telephone Irinaraquel

How Is Art A Form Of Communication?

It might be assumed that if the artist‘s vision is not exactly understood by the viewer, the artist has failed but this is not the case. Some works of art are intentionally left open to interpretation. Some are created to instigate a variety of responses or stir up controversy. Still others may be interpreted differently because of the particular point of view of the viewer, or because of a simple misunderstanding.

There can be many barriers to communication but the biggest hurdles come from something I call noise. Noise is what goes on in a person’s thought-world. Since each person comes from a different background and set of circumstances and experiences, each person will have a unique way of perceiving any communication that is encountered.

This is true even when people are brought up in the same country, same state, same town, or even in the same family. There are some basic things that everyone can understand, but there are a great many things that each person interprets just a little differently.

In the same way, each artist is a unique individual, and each artwork is a unique creation. Visual artists seek to communicate visually and there are innumerable artists who each have their own way of accomplishing this.

Over time, there have been artists whose work has been held in very high esteem and there are those whose work has historical significance. There are also those whose work is infamous and for that reason it is important.

Understanding that art is a form of communication is the first step in understanding art better.

Art Is Wildly Full of Variety

“The Creation” Acrylic Pour Art Collage by Robin Turner

“The Creation” Acrylic Pour Art Collage by Robin Turner

Why Are There So Many Different Kinds Of Art?

Throughout history there is evidence of the creativity of humankind. For most people, it is just enjoyable to enhance everyday life with little touches of creativity. Bright colors, interesting designs, and quirky shapes make life more interesting. Monumental works convey a sense of awe and an appreciation of higher levels of skill.

Art can answer questions about what people of the past enjoyed or considered to be important. It can answer questions about how people interacted with one another or with their environment. It can also be a response to political or religious ideas and it can express concerns about common issues people face.

Art can also be used for commercial purposes to make products more attractive to potential buyers. A vendor at a marketplace might use an artistic way of displaying their goods to make more sales, or a large corporation might hire graphic artists to create appealing commercials for their products.

Art is everywhere, and when we understand that it is a form of communication and that each work is created by a unique individual with a unique perspective, it is easy to see why there are so many different kinds of art.

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With such a rich panorama of objects, ideas, and subject matter, studying art might seem a little intimidating. Understanding art can be simplified if you pick a starting point and take your time. Look at art gradually, rather than trying to become an expert all at once.

To Study Art, Choose A Perspective

“Perspective”  Acrylic Painting

“Perspective” Acrylic Painting

How To Study Art

Since there is so much art available, it helps to have a method for learning to understand art. Choose a starting point or point of view and study that for a time. When you are satisfied, move to another aspect of art.

For example, if you are more interested in what was going on in the world of art at various points in time, you might want to look at art chronologically. Find an art timeline, and examine the kinds of art that were produced in each century. Consider the uses of materials, designs and colors. Find out about the function of art works, or who was behind them and why that is important.

Studying art based on certain aspects of art would also be a good way to go about it. You might consider subject matter, such as animals, people, fantasy, or nature, and look at the differences in the way these subjects are portrayed throughout time. You might also look at how various artists depicted these subjects and compare their ideas.

Geographic influences might also be considered when studying art. For instance, you could compare the art of China to the art of Native Americans or Europeans. You can also compare things like the use of line, color, materials, and subject matter.

Another comparison you might make in studying art would be the differences between common art and formal art. You could look for the ways a particular culture uses art in everyday objects and compare that to how they use art for more formal purposes.

Studying groups of famous artists and comparing their styles and the way they influenced one another is also a good way to study art. For example, many famous European artists were influenced by one another, such as Van Gogh and Matisse.

Finally, you could study the ways in which famous artistic styles have influenced art. While every artist is unique, each one is often influenced or inspired by other artists. Some artists like to pull ideas from the works of a variety of influences, and put them together in new and exciting ways.

There is no single way to study art that is more correct than another. The important thing is that in order to understand art better you will need to take some time to study it. So find a way that appeals to you and get started. Even spending 15 to 30 minutes per day studying art from a particular perspective will help. As you begin to understand art more, you will also come to appreciate it more.

© 2020 Isibane Bergen


Sp Greaney from Ireland on October 24, 2020:

This is a really great explanation. I think approaching an interest in art from this perspective makes it a lot more easier for people to enjoy and understand art. If one likes a subject or a style, then researching more about this opens up a whole new world.

Danny from India on October 15, 2020:

You mentioned it rightly. Understanding art needs one to looks at things from deeper angles. As they say ' What is hidden needs to be unraveled. ' So in every art, the art affinicado needs to unravel the hidden meaning behind the portrait.

Isibane Bergen (author) from Western North Carolina on October 12, 2020:

Thanks, Lora, for your kind words, and for reading! I love art and hope to share that with others.

Lora Hollings on October 12, 2020:

These are wonderful suggestions which you offer in your article for understanding art and as a consequence, appreciating it much more. Learning more about the artist, how art has changed throughout time, and the different styles of artists, will only enhance our experience of this amazing medium of expression. Thanks for sharing!

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