Section 1 should have given you some vocabulary and ideas to begin thinking about and talking about art.
You can now begin to discuss what you’re looking at, what it means, and – if you know it – the background of a work of art. Learning to look is a skill, like any other.
Because I’m a painter, and museums are full paintings, we’ve primarily focused on painting – but there is art all over. Books, buildings, clothes, gardens, photos, jewelry, cars, dance, plays, food, pottery, metal work, textiles, wood work – the list of what people make meaningful and beautiful is almost endless.
It would take a lifetime or two to explore it all, but we only have about a month, so we’ll look at two uncommon arts (and artists) and one very common – maybe the most common – art: movies.
Some questions to think about as we go over this section:
- Is what I’m showing you art?
- Could you argue that everything is art?
- Then what makes something art? What qualities separate it from the every day?
- Does feeling have to be involved?
- Does it have to be beautiful?
- Does it have to be meaningful?
- Does it have to be intriguing?
- Is what we like completely relative, or are there standards that need to be met?
- Are there different levels of art? Is some more important than others? Is none of it important? After all, what real good is it?
- Can art lose its importance over time? Does it need to be renewed each generation or are there basic human ideas, needs, feelings that art always picks up on?
- Why are our opinions often so different? What goes into our opinions? Can they change?
- Why do people go to so much trouble to make art? Buy it? Show it? Argue about it?
- Are artists different? If so, what qualities do they possess? Is it just that they have more or less of something, or are they completely different?
- Is everyone an artist in some way, however small?
- What is style? Why is it important? Why does it change? Do we change first, or does the style? What does it reflect?
- What if there were no art – every car, every dress, every house, every hairstyle just did what it was designed to do? That’s how it works it nature – so what’s with us?
- Just for fun, here is a clip from The Colbert Report. What changes the work from a silly photo to serious art? Do you agree with Steve Martin’s judgment?