Evaluating Art

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How ought one to go about evaluating a work of art? The first thing I learned as an art major at St. Johns was how to evaluate a work of art or one that was in progress, often times it was a piece we got to pick at the Met or the Momma. Sometimes it was our classmate’s work that we had to critique and evaluate. It was this process that drove me away from the Art department. There was too much nit picking and it got to be a pain in the ass to sit there and listen to some power hungry professor ripping apart my classmates work. What I took away was that you have to break your evaluation down into four stages. First you have to hold your personal and emotional opinions, Second you have to understand the time period the completed work of art was created in, third you have to understand that craft behind the art and the language and finally you have a summation with leads to either and appreciation or an un appreciation. You may like or dislike the subject matter, or composition and colors or maybe even the theme but this is fine and understandable and inevitable but if you want to evaluate the work, set your emotional responses aside momentarily. How does the work make you feel? Angry? Bored? Jealous? Patriotic? Happy? Sleepy? Sneeze? Pick a feeling. Use your gut in the beginning because you can always change your mind later if the context of the work changes your perception over time. The idea here is to focus on consumption. According to Pierre Bourdien consumption is the first stage in the act of communication. In this case the goal is to evaluate and you need to be able to communicate first before doing that. Before you do any of that, you need to consume and absorbed the artwork. Now try, as specifically as you can, to understand the work's historical placement and significance. What is the work's historical context? Is it a war anthem? A counterpoint to a political view? Try to place the work within a historical and or political framework as best as you can....
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