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After reading the title of this article, you’re probably thinking to yourself - there is no true virtuosity to appreciating the art found in a museum or gallery.  You may be right, or wrong, but there is some truth to our society and how it views art.  Growing up in New York City, my parents took me on trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim, and Museum of the City of New York during my free time and because of my exposure to art at a young age, I grew up appreciating how art not only symbolized different cultures, but also told stories.

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Photography by Nina Godridge!

As a soon-to-be graduate of Smith College with a degree in Art History, it seems to me that some people look at a piece of artwork and are not grasping the subject matter or statement.  For example, Josef Albers, an abstract painter and theorist, spent his career creating contemporary and figural paintings. In his popular series Homage to the Square, his paintings are a contemplation of layers on layers of squares.  To some, the tribute to the squares is easy to comprehend, while other people only respect the time and persistence of Albers, as he painted one perfectly symmetrical square on top of the next.  While I am not asking you to form an artist’s eye, I am asking is you to look at the brush strokes: watch the formation of the piece through the artist’s strokes in creating of the piece of art.  What do you see?

Like a Renaissance painting or a scribe on a cathedral’s wall, there was a hand – the hand of a painter who spent hours trying to capture the beauty of a pair of delicate blue eyes, or the rustling green bush in the background of a windy summer day.

In society nowadays, more people are going to museums and galleries to recognize how cultures and societies have evolved.  It’s similar to appreciating the time and effort Steve Jobs put into creating the iPhone, or how technology has advanced that now we can enjoy virtual reality.  Art is formatted into our world. From the billboards on highways, shop window displays, and the icon representing an app. Artists and inventors go hand-in-hand in creating something pleasing to look at.

Even though I am trying to portray the concept of the artist’s eye and the vision put into the piece of work, the appreciation of art lies with how you interpret the artwork/art itself.  Some people might think the only way to understand art is to read about the piece or completely know the artist.  While in the study of Art History you do learn a lot about the history of the artist, you cannot read his mind.  You can only render the artwork in your own mind.  That is the important thing - you cannot allow other people’s criticisms to cloud your perception. You have to be the judge for yourself.  Looking through your own eyes, thinking with your own mind, you must examine the art yourself.

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The true art of appreciating art is understanding the value of what it represents. 

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Art has always been used as a mode to speak out about politics, culture, and problematic societal standards.  Artists are using their unique styles to not only represent themselves, but also their entire generation. Millennials have been working hard to distinguish themselves from the past, while at the same time, replicating the civil rights generation.  During the 1970s, a lot of artists were using their art to speak about civil rights.  Now with recent discrimination against the LGBT and black communities, artists are using their different tools and mediums to tackle these issues.  There is a constant overflow of the past transforming the present, which is how art has always evolved throughout the centuries.

Something must be said about millennium art: it mostly is found online, not in galleries.  This has happened because of how the art world is set up when it comes to stages of being recognized.  For every student that studies art, the chances of being displayed in a gallery are very low. Artists like Michelangelo, John William Waterhouse, Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, and others who have contributed to the art world for centuries, dedicated their lives to give you something to view, to appreciate, and to ponder. To get into that career field requires a lot of exposure of your work to an audience.  Every piece of art displayed on a wall (online or not) has a story to tell.  These stories create a lineage of time and space in which artists get to display images that have been tucked away in their minds. Art is beautiful that way because every mind is different, not everyone is the same. These talented people took something from their brain and brought it to life. That is why we have so many artists posting their work on Instagram, Tumblr, or Facebook. Recognition is hard to obtain these days because it is about finding the right ‘in.’

Recently, I was fortunate enough to visit Pablo Picasso’s house and museum in Barcelona, Spain.  I was surprised by my mother when she said she wanted the recorded audio to direct her around the museum.  At first, I got angry at her and told her it would be a waste of her time.  In audio recordings, sometimes the voice tells you appreciate certain things beside the whole painting.  As I started to walk through the exhibitions, I realized that I wish I took one too. It doesn’t take away how I depict the art ,but it gives background to that moment in history. Interestingly enough, Pablo Picasso spent time studying Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez in 1957. During his time studying the distinguishable painting, he painted various versions in which you see how he transformed as an artist.

Though we know Picasso as an impressionist, surrealist, and cubist artist, we must be reminded that he was only seven years-old when his father enrolled him into art school to study realism. Pablo Picasso is a classic example of the transformation of art throughout the years, and while some people shunned him for breaking the mold of art, there were more people applauding for forming a new mold of art.

Art has been this mode of communication amongst societies for years. Artists present the evolution of art that proceeds to come with new eras. With that,

all across the globe, museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Tate Modern, and the Louvre hold relics of art of the past.  Past, present, and future art will forever be a medium of representing a culture and society.  The true art of appreciating art is the value of what it represents. The representation of art speaks louder than words exiting the mouth, as it holds to one true form, one valuable subject.  Art is more than just a brush stroke on a canvas, it is the story that it tells through all the strokes to create one masterpiece.  The next time you look at a painting hanging on a wall - in a museum, college hallway, your grandmother’s parlor, ask yourself this question -  how am I interpreting this art? That is the moment you let your mind wander, connect, and fully depict what art means to you.  

 

22 year old New York City native is currently attending Smith College to earn her bachelor's in English and Art History. Growing up in a household where creativity was applauded, Nina uses different modes of expression and description in her work. As bSmart’s Art Director and Editorial Intern she hopes to break new walls with the website.

 

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