First Steps

 If you are new to analyzing art this is OK. In my job I had guests stop me and ask for help on how to get through an art appreciation class or art history project.

Here are tips to get through it.

  • Think of the art work like meeting a new friend. What story are they trying to tell? Who are they? Is it a painting or a sculpture? Is the work big or small?
  • What jumps out at you the most? The color or the grooves in the object perhaps?
  • Take your time to write down your impressions and first thoughts.
  • Then when you are ready read the information about the art that is next to the painting.
  • Is it new or old? One of a kind or numerous?
  • Do we know who the artist was? Did he or she work as part of a group or alone?
  • It is OK not to have a famous artists attached to your project. This could help you focus better on your work. This will make your work more interesting to both you and your teacher.
  • If this is an assigned project and you have to write something about a topic you are not too keen on just do your best. If you never take a class like this again this is your one chance to do something you might not otherwise do.

Now that you have some thoughts in mind let’s look at a work of art.

Public Domain
https://emuseum.mfah.org/objects/60984/still-life-with-melons-peaches-figs-and-grapes?ctx=c8ac0b1eac1f0f435c336eadbb2e7bfbbd4ffc22&idx=14#

I chose this image of the melons and grapes as most of us remember the fuzz of a peach or the toughness of a melon. This painting can symbolize a rich persons ability to have a bounty of food. Think of Thanksgiving, with the turkey and green beans. This work of art is saying the same thing. Look at the colors and how the food is placed next to one another. The melons are ready to be eaten, as they will open on there own when ready.

Bust of a Bacchante
https://emuseum.mfah.org/objects/364/bust-of-a-bacchante?ctx=5a9881e21811f5b7a49e59cca8c2b495f645cdb1&idx=96#

This image is of a portrait bust.

The common theme among both of these are grapes. She is a bacchante or a figure that would be present in both Greek and Roman mythology of events featuring Bacchus the God of wine. She could also be an idea for a person attending the festival to fill her role and they dress up as someone like her.

The painting of the still life also has grapes and could be some of the food up for grabs in ancient times. So not only have we looked at two works of art but can see a connection between the two wealth and festivals.

I hope this helps to open the door to your own art adventures in a museum near you.

Special note: The Corona Virus is leading to many museums around the world to have to close their doors. See if you can take a virtual tour and find information online on your favorite artist.

Author: HisArtMuse

Writer and researcher on art,history and culture.

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