It goes without saying that there is not one correct way to appreciate and understand art; that’s what makes it so unique in comparison to many other aspects of life – it is subjective, highly personal, but at the same time universal and uniting.
If, however, you are to visit a contemporary art museum for the first time or simply are in search of some ways to approach modern art, here are some aspects worth noting:
Some people are prone to reflecting upon art, some people tend to form opinions while discussing with others. Consider which type you are before hitting a contemporary art exhibition or show you’ve been hyped about for a while; taking the wrong crowd or having no one to share it with can make or break the experience. Truly think about what you are trying to discover by going to this exhibition, something about the artist, the art, yourself, your friends? Be sure that if you go alone, no one will challenge your thoughts and emotions unless you do it yourself, and that can be highly therapeutic. On the other hand, having a group of people equally interested or invested in art can prove to be an intellectually demanding journey.
This question is extremely relevant when it comes to contemporary art. Needless to say, there is little one can do to avoid knowing what influenced Picasso, or what to look for in Dali’s symbols. When it comes to contemporary art, and if it is truly more focused on the experience of the viewer than the appreciation of the artwork, is it really that beneficial to know what the artist intended with this work? Some claim that this is the only way to actually understand modern art because if you go without any initial preparation, you will end up staring at a pile of trash. And perhaps that is true, but think about the purpose of you visiting the exhibition. Do you want to learn about the artist, his work, see how he applied certain techniques and how certain concepts important to him or her manifest (or don’t!) in the work? Or what matters more is personal impressions, emotional bond and lasting impact? Information is the key most of the time, but not all of the time.
There will always be individuals who visit museums, exhibitions, and galleries for the sake of being able to say that they’ve been there. Those can usually be seen only in the major art hubs, the ones that you simply must visit if you go to a certain city. However, for those looking to truly immerse themselves into the world of contemporary art, this question is a natural one. At the end of the day, there is so much to take in, where does one even start? Should a person begin with modern art that is well-acknowledged and attempt to discover what other people and educated critics see in it? Or should small galleries with the works of local artists should be the primary target, just to get the taste of it and form a preliminary opinion? True, there is not one correct answer. However, just like with the other aspects mentioned above, it is a matter of personal preferences that are important to consider if an eager art viewer is to get the most out of the experience.