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Understanding The Artist

Many times, when art is not understood, it is devalued in our minds. We are not sure just what the artist intended, how he wanted us to react. And what are we supposed to think about his work? All are legitimate questions. Maybe we can uncover the answers.

Picasso was certainly a misunderstood artist. We look at some of his later works and wonder at the health of his mind! His drawings, though, done at the beginning of his career, prove he was of an excellant mind and an equally excellent draftsman. His drawings are beautiful and highly refined.

As he progressed, his drawings changed to symbols of the subject matter. It looked like something we knew and could identify, but then again, it was so very different. Instead of a literal rendition of a face, he drew and painted as if he were seeing two or three sides at once.

His painting grew more bizarre and the public's feelings, at times, were mixed. On one hand, he seemed a genius, on the other, was he for real or what? Was he putting us on? Was it huge joke he had perpetrated on us? We're still not sure!

When we view representational art, we know what we are looking. It's a vase with flowers on a lace tablecloth. There is no guess work involved. We can easily identify the subject matter. Not so with abstract art. Because we can't identify anything, we are unsure of ourselves and what our
reaction should be.

We turn away out of confusion and our own inability to understand and appreciate the work presented to us. An abstract painting usually starts out with a recognizable subject. The artist wants to go a step further, do something different. So he begins to take apart, to dissect his subject, slice it, dice it, reduce it to it's barest essentials. Many times there isn't any thing left of it's identity, only lines and unrecognizable shapes.
But the artist wants to tell us something about that object. If he/she cannot excite us with a full rendition of the object, then he/she must resort to a feeling or a mood. This is where color and design enter in. The artist must engage our attention with the only means
left to him now, color and design.

So when you stand in front of a painting and you can't make anything out of it, look at the title, that will help you and if it doesn't, well then, just enjoy what is there before you. Don't try to label and identify, simply appreciate the colors and design, try to feel the mood and let the painting speak to you.


Author : Kay Milam

Copyright-2002 All Rights Reserved

A bit about me.. I have painted, made sculptures, and taught art in my private studio and higher learning classes in two colleges, to both childern and adults.

My paintings are in galleries in Texas, in private collections, and may be viewed at my website.

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