Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's Just a Painting

How do you look at a painting?

Do you look at it and take in the picture at face value? Do you start by trying to take in the whole and then looking for any details that catch your eye?

Do you try to understand it? Is deconstructionism your approach to paintings? Are you trying to understand what the painter was trying to convey? Are you interested in the meaning of the imagery of the work?

I don't think there is one right way to look at a painting. There are many. One way that I'm not well versed at is to look at the painting in order to find out how it was done. To look for the techniques. To look for the choices and decisions the painter made. This approach is a bit more technical in some respects but it's no less fascinating.

James Elkins wrote How to Look at Mondrian. A close up look at what appears to be a deceptively simple painting. It won't help you answer all the questions about the meaning of the painting. It doesn't go in to deconstruction of the concepts and ideas. It does give insight into the techniques and choices Mondrian made.

I'll never look at a simple collection of stripes and colours quite the same way ever again.

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