Understanding Art

Last Thursday, I had a few hours of free time, which I was happy to spend in Barnes and Nobel going throw some art magazines. Since art is a huge part of my life (I run an online art gallery and do monthly interviews with artists), I picked up a few magazines to see what they’re publishing, and what the international and local art communities are talking about.

Now I think I know why so many people don’t understand art or refuse to read about it or voice their opinion.

Art in America Magazine

Did you know that based on data from the Alliance for Audited Media, as of June 30, 2017, there are no art magazines in the top 100?!? And after reading a few articles, I can confidently say that so-called reputable experts are to blame for it.

The way they twist the language while describing somebody’s work is unspeakable. It’s like they’re in a literary class and the teacher asked them to replace the words with the most sophisticated synonym they could find. Are they writing to communicate with the average reader, or are they trying to impress their peers with their intellectual brilliance?

Art Talk
There’s a reason why marketing, news and blogs are written at a 10th- to 12th-grade reading level. If the reader doesn’t understand the message, the entire exercise was a costly, fruitless effort. Sure, it plays well at the country club, but it just kept would-be art lovers confused and unenthused.

How does this serve the art community who’s trying to get people into museums, galleries and exhibitions? It doesn’t just have an intellectual opportunity cost (the opportunity lost by choosing to do something else, because you did not know); it has an economic impact as well: lost sales of art, ticket sales to events, concessions, etc. that won’t stimulate the local economy. It makes me wonder if Einstein’s quote applies to them: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Here are my top picks from just seven sentences – in ONE paragraph! – from one article in latest issue of Art in America.

1. Each screen-speaker paring offered an autonomous event, though the cavernous hall echoed with the ebb and flow of Blanchett’s various recitations.
2. …Frantic fever pitch in her respective declamation…
3. …hectoring chorus.
4. …Glories, aural ruins…

I almost felt like I could use those before a speaking event as Tongue Twisters:

• Cavernous Hall Echoed with Ebb and Flow
• Glories, Aural Ruins
• Frantic Fever Pitch

By the way, it was written by a reputable author. And I’ll still call Sandro Botticelli’s Venus “beautiful” instead of (Warning! Migraine causing $2 word coming) – “pulchritudinous.”

Venus BotticelliSandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus (c. 1486). Tempera on canvas. Detail. (wiki)

As they say, Art in America is widely read by art dealers, collectors, historians, art professionals and others. I would love for OTHERS to be as excited about reading it just as much as art professionals. And I really hope we’ll be able to enjoy the read for the next hundred years.

Do you agree or disagree, please share in the comments below.

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