Learn to understand any artwork you come across in a fraction of the time it would take to get a degree in Art History.
Step 1: Google If you're trying to understand a famous work of art, a quick Google search will yield almost limitless information and countless explanations.
Step 2: Read the plaque If you’re stuck on your own, start by reading the title card or plaque. If it has a self-explanatory name like 'I love ham,' your work here is done.
Step 3: Question the location Question the work’s location. Is it a part of a larger exhibit? Is it grouped with other works that have a common theme?
TIP: Assume that everything in a work of art was created to support an idea. This might not always be the case, but it’ll get you thinking about purpose and relevance.
Step 4: Check out historic connections Check out any historic connections a piece may have. For example, if you’re looking at a sculpture made in the late 1940s, there’s a pretty good chance it has something to do with World War II.
Step 5: Appraise the values of the public For public art, try to appraise the values of the intended demographic. Minimalist, towering sculptures appear outside minimalist, towering bank buildings for a reason.
TIP: Most public art is commercial and designed to satisfy a need. Often that need is simply to add something interesting to an open space without insulting or angering.
Step 6: Ask yourself what you like If the work is designed for the home, ask yourself what you like. It’s going to be hanging on your wall, after all.
Step 7: Tell a story Imagine telling a story about the work of art, or being the artist and describing it to other people. Sometimes talking it through like this will help you make new observations or connections.
FACT: The oldest known sculptures are often called Venus Figurines, and almost all of them resemble pregnant women.