How can you understand art better? There are three very simple steps you can take to gain more insight into the meaning of different pieces: look, see and think.
This look, see and think method works well and can be used for any type of creative piece, from fine art to movies and music; in fact, it is surprising how many forms of art there are.
The look, see and think process is about slowing down the way we take in and disseminate information, breaking down the information and purposely holding back from making snap judgements until you have undertaken to gain greater insight into what you are seeing or hearing.
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1 – Look
It sounds obvious that one of the first things we do in a gallery is ‘look’ at the artwork, but do we really, properly look?
Start by working out what it actually in front of you. At the most fundamental level, this is the medium and the materials. Next consider how it looks – is it neat, messy, careful, slick, clean or rough? The artist will have used certain materials to create this look and feel for a reason; therefore, understanding this could help you to gain a deeper insight into what they are trying to get across.
2 – See
Although subtle, the difference between looking and seeing is important. While looking is about taking in what is physically in front of you, seeing is about identifying the symbols within the work and trying to understand why they are there (iconography).
3 – Think
The finally stage in the process is all about interpreting what you have seen. What possible meanings could the symbols within the piece or pieces have for the artist? Unlike science, there are no right or wrong answers here; interpretation is very much subjective. A key element of gaining a greater understanding and insight is looking at the piece in the right context; looking at it in broader terms will enable you to make better sense of the information in front of you. Check out additional details, such as the title of the piece, when it was created, and find out about the artists themselves.