I bet you didn’t expect me to say that, did you? I bet you expected me to tell you art is in the eye of the beholder and anyone can enjoy any art easily.
But you know what? I’m mystified by a lot of “fine art” these days as well, and I make the stuff for a living. The good news is you can access art. Simply because modern conceptual art is somewhat, well, conceptual and sometimes perplexing, weird, strange and unfathomable, doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate fine art itself.
You don’t need a degree in art history to access art every day, anywhere at almost anytime. In no other time in history have we been given access to so much art at one time so many places.
And I bet you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about since I just kind of insulted “fine art.”
It’s simple. Do you own a smartphone or a car? Do you enjoy the design of said car, its shapes and colors and placement of controls? Do you like the interface on your phone? Did you pick out a special case for it? Is it a texture you like?
Do you have a favorite t-shirt? Is your surfboard painted or decorated in any way whatsoever? Did you get a haircut recently? Do you have more than one pair of shoes and, if so, what are they for and why did you chose them? Do you read billboards? Magazines? Do you watch TV? Movies?
If you do any of these things, chances are you are appreciating art. It’s pretty much everywhere, and most of the time we don’t notice we are appreciating it. Furthermore, we are excellent critics of this art as evidenced by our choices in purchasing phones, shoes, surfboards and automobiles.
We are often picky and demanding, and we want what we want, and we want it for a reason. And those reasons make up art appreciation. We enjoy line and form, we enjoy color and shapes. We evaluate something’s beauty or clumsiness, its usefulness and its decoration.
In short, we are all experts at appreciating art and design because it is everywhere. Many of the principles that determine the value of fine art are those that are used to design the objects—both virtual and physical—that we enjoy (or don’t enjoy) on a daily basis.
It doesn’t stop there.
Do you watch the gorgeous sunsets over the Gulf in awe? Are some better than others? Is there one that stands out in your memory? Ask yourself why. That question will basically organize those principles about art to which I’m referring. You appreciate certain color combinations or cloud shapes. You like (or don’t like) the contrast between the horizon and a particular building.
Basically, you are judging the “art” of that sunset much as a “fine art” photographer would. Or as any “fine art” critic would.
You are your own best art critic, so go out there and enjoy its beauty.