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Why look at art?

Why look at art? This was the question we posed to several of our colleagues at a conference for museum professionals. Special thanks to Laura Mann, Anna Velez, an anonymous professional, and David Torgersen whose voices and insights are included here. Created by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker.

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  • orange juice squid orange style avatar for user Kutili
    Who defines what is art and what it isn't?
    (283 votes)
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    • mr pants teal style avatar for user Tommy
      I think it all depends on who is looking at it. What is art to one person is not necessarily art to another. If you enjoy something, appreciate it and maybe even find some deeper meaning within it, then you probably consider it art. This goes for everything, not just paintings and things that you find in museums. anything can be art if YOU think it is. So I guess the answer to your question is every individual person :)
      (49 votes)
  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user ∫∫ Greg Boyle  dG dB
    Art has mean different meanings to different people. Why do you like art and what feelings do you have looking art?
    (74 votes)
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  • male robot hal style avatar for user Konrad Taube
    Why do people consider "Modern Art" to be real art? When I look at Claude Monet's Impression, Sunrise and then look at Warhol's soup cans... I feel that it's almost an insult to Monet to put them under the same category as "art".
    (11 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user Suhail Naqshbandi
      You need to understand the history and philosophy of every piece of art. Comparing Monet with Warhol is not fair at all. Monet's ideas worked on the principles of play of light and color while as Warhol believed that art should be treated as a commodity. According to him, it should be affordable and popular. He believed in idea being superior to craft. His was a new way of thinking. Whether it was good or bad, depends on our perceptions. But then his influence in the art world is of great significance. In today's time, you have Damien Hirst cutting animals, preserving them and projecting them as pieces of art. And he is considered the richest living artist in the world. Many call him a conman but what is it that makes him stand out? Maybe we need to understand that.
      (17 votes)
  • male robot hal style avatar for user Zuka
    I think that art opens new ways of thinking and feeling. What do you think?
    (14 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Sydney German
    Can looking at art ever be harmful? Can it send bad messages or be deceiving? If so, is it still important to look at that kind of art?
    (5 votes)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Jason
    What makes that painting special/what is it trying to convey?
    (3 votes)
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    • piceratops tree style avatar for user Arthur Smith
      That's a "color field" painting by Mark Rothko. He was an abstract expressionist who explored the expressive content of color relationships, separated from any representational image. He was asking the question, "If I just throw some colours together, without actually painting anything, what feelings can I create? What moods?" Some people like to stare at his works a long time, and then close their eyes - or look to the left or right. You'll see an "afterimage" with the opposite colours of the original. The real challenge is to look at them and see if it tells you anything at all about who the artist was - that was the ultimate goal of the expressionists. Imagine talking to the artist who painted these works. What would he sound like? How would he act? What would he say they're about?
      (15 votes)
  • piceratops seed style avatar for user Grace Music
    Where is the coolest are museum in the United states?
    (6 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user Nicole Zhou
      The coolest museum in the United States in my opinion is definitely the Art Institute of Chicago. I went there in February. It is such a cool museum with all kinds of artwork from the world. The museum organizes different art into various exhibition hall. I was really into the exhibition where they hang up Monet's painting. Just standing there and stare at the painting for a while, I can really feel the beauty and feelings that are expressed in the paintings. Being in a museum like this, not only the artwork itself identified as art, but also how the atmosphere being displayed in the museum is identified as art as well.
      (3 votes)
  • leafers ultimate style avatar for user Darion Durant
    Would Clothing count as art since so many of them back then had many differnt patterns on them
    (1 vote)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user RhiyanBrown
    i love art so much that i make my own art!
    (3 votes)
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  • male robot hal style avatar for user mseyahirr
    I think art was made for humans communicate and express things that language can't
    (2 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user celinelielle
      Art's most important moment is the point at which the artist expresses or creates his or her vision, aka the work of art. Remember, the work of art never existed in time and space before and is the artist's interpretation of an already existing reality, whether, for example, a horse in a field, a can of soup, or an emotion being felt by the artist or someone else.
      It is the quality of the artist's expression that determines its place on the hierarchy of "yes, this is good art, or, no, this is terrible."
      Why the works' most important moment is the moment of creation rests in the recognition of the artist's importance and talent. An artist with only a modicum of talent will produce a work of art not worth looking at. And why? Because it is the ability (the talent) of the artist to
      interpret the thing into an expression that never before existed that determines the value of the art.
      I guess my point is that art cannot be sufficiently understood or appreciated unless the viewer consciously takes into consideration, at the moment of viewing, that the work is a creation, that it never existed before, and that fact is critical to an understanding and proper appreciation of the work.
      (2 votes)

Video transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING] SPEAKER 1: I think it's important that people look at art because we live in a visual world. And understanding, and looking at, and thinking about the way images communicate in all kinds of ways is important to being alive today. SPEAKER 2: If one has heightened visual acumen, which you get from spending time looking at things, whether it's looking at newspaper photos closely, or looking at works in a museum, or looking at your surroundings, or birds more closely, that sort of attention to an environment makes you a better person. You are existing in a more aware, alert, present space. SPEAKER 3: Sometimes people think that the only way of looking at art is going to museums and places like that. But maybe sometimes art is everywhere, in the street, if you look at architectural places, or everything. So you really don't need to go to a museum to see art. It could be anywhere, in a park, or looking at buildings, or going to a movie. So I think that's everyday life. SPEAKER 4: It's all about noticing for me. It's all about trying to see beyond the first impression. People look at art. And they'd say, I like this. I don't like this. And they move on. They have predetermined notions. But if you can just stop and take a breath and look a little deeper at something, you can really start to notice some kind of detail that you might have not noticed before. And I think that skill applies to so many things in life aside from art, about being able just to slow down and be aware of actually where you're standing. And just even stop talking, and just maybe open up your ears, for example. There's so much detail around that you can absorb if you really just take a moment, and just let it come in, and listen. [MUSIC PLAYING]