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How To ‘Get’ Modern Art
How to learn, read, appreciate modern art?
March 18, '20
How to appreciate modern art?

by Virtosu Art Gallery

March 18, '20

How To ‘Get’ Modern Art


How to learn, read, appreciate modern art?

Believe us, we understand. You want to understand modern art, but you just can’t. Your partner has dragged you around galleries, and you’ve tried, but it’s all just a little ‘odd’ for your taste.

You are far from alone, and far for us to condescend you by implying that you don’t understand what you are looking at.

Many people ask:

How to learn modern art?
How to read modern art?
How to appreciate modern art?

Senecio, 1922
Paul Klee, Senecio, 1922

The truth in the matter is that more or less everyone who does like modern art went through a process of enlightenment, usually with the help of a more educated individual (in terms of modern art) taking the time and trouble to explain some concepts that definitely will help in seeing some of the pieces in a new light. And not all modern art is gold, of course, but there is a beauty in a lot of it that you will begin to see if you take a slightly different perspective.

Here’s how you can do it:

Don’t try to solve it

It is in our nature as human beings that we try to understand the ‘whys’ and ‘whats’ behind everything. One of the aspects that makes children better learners is that they have a natural curiosity combined with an acceptance that we grow to mistrust as we become adults. The fact of the matter is, with modern art, especially abstract pieces, there is no secret code that you are missing, or at least there isn’t most of the time.

“A lot of modern art will reflect emotion and perception rather than a logical idea, and if you think about it, these are not human fields that have a lot of sensible meaning,” argues Cassie Blackstock. “How often have you tried to define your emotions in a precise moment? Hard, isn’t it. So art is an outlet by which you can express yourself without trying to put some tangible logic on it. That’s the beauty,” enthuses Courtney Lee, an art blogger at Australian help and Paper Fellows.

1938, Rythme n°1 Robert Delaunay
1938, Rythme n°1 Robert Delaunay

Think about how it makes you feel

A lot of modern art will then try to provoke a reaction in you, as the audience. Think carefully about how a piece makes you feel. Sure, there will be pieces that don’t make you feel anything, and that goes to show they are not for your taste. Most pieces will provoke some kind of reaction in yourself, albeit disgust, apathy, confusion, curiosity, bewilderment, or something abstract. And that is the point of art.

Read the accompanying text

All museum and gallery pieces will provide some information about what you are looking at, and it is always recommended that you take the time to consider that to help you at least see where the artist was coming from when they created their piece of art. Sometimes just knowing that a work of art was produced by someone in a particular time and place will give it some context that will assist in some kind of appreciation of what you are looking at.

Take a little time, but not too much

How long should you stand in front of a piece of work? There is no correct answer to that question, and it all depends on how you receive it. If it is doing nothing for you, then just move on: there is so much more to see.

Woman Picking Flowers - Frantisek Kupka
Woman Picking Flowers - Frantisek Kupka

Have an open mind

This is where we are in danger of sounding patronizing, which is not our intention. But if you go into a gallery thinking that modern art is ‘rubbish’ and that a ‘five-year-old could do better,’ then there is little chance that you will have a change of heart once you start having a look around. Of course, you may be a bit cynical, but go in, have a look around, follow the advice here, listen to what others have to say, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

“Going with someone who does have an appreciation and an understanding will help, as that is how nearly all of us begin in our journey,”

says Raphael Hunt, a lifestyle writer at Academized and State of writing.

Appreciate the different forms

Not all people like all types of art. Most of us would choose one style over another every time. So when you go into a gallery, accept that maybe still life, or installations, or sculpture, or whatever it is, is not for you. However, you will find at least one medium that communicates to you better than all the others, and that will be your starting point. It may be your endpoint too. It’s ultimately an individual taste.

About author Molly Crockett, a lifestyle writer for Ukwritings and Essayroo, shares her lifestyle and personal development tips with her audience. In her spare time, Molly teaches writing skills for Boomessays.

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