Works of art are more complex than what meets the eye. To be able to visualize them, it is important that we learn how to look at a work of art, and this requires depth, attention, knowledge and other tools that we will mention below.
3 key steps to look at a work of art
1-Look. It seems obvious, but it is not. When entering a museum or stopping in front of a work of art, the first and fundamental thing to do is to look. That is to say, to make a general vision of the work, of the first impressions that it generates, what it transmits to us at first sight, etc.
2-Seeing: Is to look carefully and attentively. It is to put all our interest on who the author is, what materials he has used, the name of the work, its most relevant characteristics, etc. In other words, it is to make a deep reading that allows us to interpret more clearly.
3-Thinking. This last step is directly related to the previous one, since after looking at the work in detail, we can think and reflect on it. Therefore, this process becomes very subjective, in which each person will live a different experience from the other while contemplating it.
What should we look for?
Author, title and description: this information provides a key context. They give us an idea of the artist’s style, the identity of the work and its main characteristics.
The format: considering size and shape is fundamental. A horizontal canvas is not the same as a vertical one. Sometimes the former is used to glimpse scenery and the latter to give attention to portraits. The same applies to size: a work of great magnitude reflects the technical difficulties that the artist has gone through for its realization.
Colors: they speak for themselves and their use can denote the artist’s intention. There are even movements that are characterized by the use of certain colors, for example Pop Art, which we have talked about in another section. Pop Art stands out for its use of a variety of strident and bright colors, which distinguish it from other artistic movements.
Materials and techniques: watercolor or oil paintings, clay or iron sculptures, ceramic or glass pieces. There are many materials that differ in their degree of difficulty in their manipulation, the finish they offer, the possibilities of transformation, their variations, etc. Therefore, the artist’s choice is not random, since the materials are the language of his works and are a true reflection of their elaboration.
Style: understanding the artist’s influences, which movement he identifies with, the context in which he has created the work, the added value he brings to his creations, everything will determine his style. And after all, style is the artist’s stamp.
Is there a right time to look at a work of art?
The truth is that there is not. There is no established and correct time to look at a work of art. This will depend on each person, on the previous knowledge he/she has, on how much he/she commits to the observation, among other issues. What we can say is that it isn’t something quick and fleeting, but it is necessary to take a moment to contemplate the artistic work, to pay full attention to it in order to understand what the artist wants to communicate.