How to Evaluate Artwork. Art is a beautiful and unique expression of creativity and the human spirit. Whether sculpted from clay or metal or brushed skilfully onto canvas, every piece of art is different and is interpreted differently by every viewer. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind when evaluating artwork.
Learn the basics. No matter what medium of art you are evaluating or the style of the artist who has created it, you will be better equipped to understand the work if you have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of art as a whole. Find books at the library that trace the progression of art through the ages and that detail the various time periods and art movements that have taken place throughout history. It may not seem that the Baroque movement will help you understand modern art at all, but all art is tied together and knowing the basics will give you a better understanding and help you feel less intimidated when faced with an entire gallery of artwork.
Find out about the artist. Galleries frequently have profiles online or in the local newspaper about the artist whose work they are currently displaying. Before viewing the artwork find out a little about the artist, their background, their inspirations and the media that they prefer to work in. Understanding their points of view and knowing a little bit about them helps you better understand how their life experiences impacted their work.
View it from all angles. A piece of artwork often appears different when viewed from different perspectives. Rather than just looking at the piece from directly in front of it, walk around it. Look at it from each side. Back away from it to take in the entire piece as a whole, then step close to it and examine the details, structure and texture.
Approach it with an open mind. One of the best things about art of any kind is that it is subjective and open to individual interpretation by everyone who sees it. If a piece of artwork doesn't make sense to you or you don't relate to it, don't automatically write it off as being meaningless. Remember that the piece has come out of the artist's creativity and inspiration and that it has meaning to them. Focus on one or two elements of the work instead of the whole piece and ask yourself what those individual components could mean. Being open-minded about art and attempting to interpret it in different ways gives you more of an appreciation for all types of art.
Ask the artist. Many gallery exhibits often have the artist present at the opening to talk with viewers about their work. If the artist is not there, a curator and gallery managers are available to answer your questions and share the artist's perspective to help you better understand the artwork.
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