Thursday, October 7, 2010

Art Appreciation 101

Yvonne and I grew up with art in our lives, our mother painted, she even painted a mural on one of our walls, a zebra standing in grass, looking out into the living room, and of course it was a “hands off” wall.

The art season is in full swing; I spend at least two Saturdays a month in galleries all over New York City. I also visit on a regular basis our wonderful museums. It’s not easy looking at art these days with the digital world we live in. It doesn’t seem to be about the art anymore. It’s about getting picture of the art or posing next to the art instead of enjoying it through the naked eye. I seem to be jockeying space to view the art while avoiding being photographed by strangers. Never mind the distracting conversations between chatty visitors talking to each other or their cell phones.

A good friend of mine runs a gallery in New York’s Chelsea district. I asked him about some dos and don’ts concerning gallery hopping from his point of view, from taking a picture of a picture to talking to an artist about art.

“People don’t seem to view art anymore,” he said. “They seem to be more interested in recording the image.” He doesn’t mind visitors taking pictures but the polite thing to do is to ask someone at the gallery desk if it’s all right to take photographs. If you’re planning on using the image for business reasons you must let the gallery know, images will be provided upon request, I do it often because I have an art blog on my company’s site.

Interested in buying?  Feel free to inquire about the price, not all galleries have prices listed on the description sheets. You may ask for a price consideration (discount), but don't push beyond what's offered, it's not a bargaining point, coming across pushy is frowned upon. Never ask the artist the price of his work, ask his representatives, if he has one, that’s what they’re there for.

I enjoy visiting artists in their studios; however, this is only appropriate if a gallery does not represent the artist. Studio visits by private collectors are usually discouraged; my guess is some collectors may treat the visit as if they're going to a sample sale in a showroom or the gallery may feel there may be too much information shared on the artist’s process. Of course professionals such as curators are always allowed, the arrangements are made through the gallery.

Oops, something broke! Don’t assume you have no responsibility even though most galleries are insured. Ask immediately what you can do, which brings me back to touching walls. It’s great to expose children to the visual arts; they love the wide-open spaces and the bright colored paintings. They shouldn’t touch the work nor be allowed to run around as if they’re in a playground. Museums have programs for art appreciation for children; it’s a great place to start teaching children about art.

While Yvonne thinks a glass of wine goes well with a nice piece of art, I don’t believe alcohol and art are a good mix. Remember you’re not at a bar. My gallery friend recalled a story he'd heard about a person complaining that there was no wine. "Hey, I came down here for a glass of wine.”  He was directed to a bar down the street.  Enjoy the wine, just be careful.

Happy gallery hopping wherever you are.


Anonymous said...

Time for gallery owners to get cell phone blockers.

Anonymous said...

Excellent piece on art!

Anonymous said...

It a shame that the appreciation for art is lost. Even in this digital age, some things should never go out of style.