Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Review

Monday, May 9, 2016

A Checklist for Looking at Art

Art education at the Terrain Gallery in New Yo...
Art education at the Terrain Gallery in New York City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Most of this is from art educator David Perkins
·      Work to overcome the given passivity toward viewing engendered by television and videos.
·      Engage in active viewing and a lot of it.
·      Understand that viewing art is its own reward.
·      Accept that viewing art is a complex, challenging proposition.
·      Use questioning as the primary strategy. (I would say, “Don’t be afraid to express your uncertainty.”)
·       Look for the things in the work that carry the “kick” or the “oomph.” Move toward the "inner relations" of aesthetic experiences rather than the "outer relations" of art history.
·      Look for motion (or stillness), mood, personality, and surprise to hook into the aesthetic effects
·      Invest “looking time,” at least 3-5 minutes.
·      Find a good distance, where the work becomes a whole.
·      Let your eyes work for you. Remember to have a "hungry eye."
·      Make looking deep and clear. Let what you know inform your looking.
·      Let questions emerge. When the flow stops, look away for a few seconds, then look back. This refreshes the eyes.
·      Make looking organized. Tell yourself when you notice interesting features.
·      Label the features in words to yourself.
·      Juxtapose paintings, etc. to promote seeing.
·      Always look for the "point of entry," the emotional/intellectual hook that challenges the viewer to engage with the work.


Perkins, David N. "The Intelligent Eye: Learning to Think by Looking at Art." The Getty Center for Education in the Arts. 1994


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