Deep Thought Thursday: Controlling how your art is viewed

My experiences with art, one of which I mentioned in Tuesday’s post, have led me to believe more and more that our appreciation of art relies in part on the context in which we experience it.

How much do environmental factors (people talking, music, distractions, solemn spaces, etc.) play in the appreciation of your art?

Or, how much do environmental factors play in your appreciation of someone else’s art?

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16 comments to Deep Thought Thursday: Controlling how your art is viewed

  • When I view other art like at museums and galleries, noise, music and people talking don’t really effect me. I guess I can tune it out if the art is engaging. So I guess I like the hectic exciting atmosphere of opening and crowded museums. Hmm, but then I’m more of a Red Grooms fan than a Rothko fan. If I liked a diffrent kind of art, I might need more solitude.

  • Gam

    Art might be more of a dialogue then an artifact. A conversation if you will somewhere between the subject-artist-viewer-critic. Conversations can be ignored, overheard, loud, intimate, didactic, moving, repetitive or even revelatory. The same conversation shared between two strangers may be other then the same conversation between intimates. And the same conversation between intimates shared in a public space would be different from the same conversation held in a private open space without distractions. Galleries can give space to art that is more opportune to intimate, considered sharing then the wall of the subway platform or local shopping mall. It isn’t that one space precludes the opportunity for openness required for an artistic “dialogue” but that particular spaces are more conducive to “meditative” considerations. So sure spaces effect the artistic experience, but more importantly are the “viewers” approach. Busy, hectic, angry, defensive?- if so it is unlikely seeing the art artifact in a gallery will be a better experience then seeing it in car dealership. I saw a call for abstract art to hang in a car dealership this week! – exposure is great, but there are different types and levels of attention. So too with spaces for viewing art. All are legit but they do reflect the level and type of attention the art will be accorded.

  • I believe that surroundings and the general “atmosphere” around the art being viewed has a huge effect on how it is perceived by the viewing public. Product marketers have been using this for years and have got it down to a science. Think of the difference of shopping in a Ambercrombie and Fitch, vs The Gap vs Banana Republic. Different vibes for different clothes, different customer demographics! Maybe we as artists and gallery owners might want to explore this more and create a different ambience dependent on the art and artist’s style. Great Topic.

  • Hi Alyson, I just discovered your site via someone who linked our digital art press here in Paris and mentioned you as well. I absolutely agree with your point of view – artists need to promote themselves – and the clever ways in which you’ve facilitated the project. As both an artist and a small art press, I’ve tried to help our artist clients produce material – posters, cards, books and catalogs – that is both cost-effective and just plain effective. I’ve also come up with new products, what I call “paper machines” to give them an edge at a very low price. The most recent is the “one-page-book,” a single sheet of paper printed on a single side that when folded produces an eight-page booklet. A larger sheet, 11 x 17 or A3 size here in Europe, can be used in the same way. I’ve provided a basic guide to this on our site. I think it might be useful for your readers as well. It’s cheap and can look fantastic, particularly if inkjet printed on fine Arches paper. We’re developing it for print runs of 1000 or so for artists who want to use this as an artist book or invitation or a catalog of recent works. Layouts can vary, but the bottom line is people won’t toss it like an invite card. Please take a look : http://lalandedigitalpress.blogspot.com/ I’m also an exhibiting artist, and while I use the .Mac site, I find the pure images on page after page, I don’t think it’s as bad as some people make it out to be. It’s a generic and inexpensive solution to about 1000 or so images I’ve put on the net. Dealers see this and sift through it all and it’s led to shows all over the US and Europe. Take a look, here: http://homepage.mac.com/mistahcoughdrop/ Great site… do let me know if you think the one-page-book is something you’ve already come across… Best, Matthew Rose / Paris, France

  • My first reaction was…”Oh, yeah, that definitely matters..”. But, then I started to think about it from the other direction. What effect does art have on the environment? Does an a space become more human and engaging when art is present, even if on the surface it seems as if no one is giving it due attention? If the art was absent, how would the space feel different? While I sometimes think control over the environment that art is presented in is important, making art so precious that we only allow it to be seen under a controlled environment may hurt us in the long run. It can make our lives less rich, and create less opportunities for more people to see and appreciate art. I have found moments of refuge in art in a less than perfect setting. A chance to escape the moment and get lost in another’s creation. I would hate to lose those moments in order to have all the art work I see be presented only in controlled enviroments, “conducive to viewing”. I guess it comes down to the saying about perfection is the enemy of the good. The opportunities for controlled viewing exist. Perhaps the easiest way to expand art in the world is to find more “good enough” venues, rather than insisting on perfection.

  • When I paint – iPod cranked with Beethoven’s Ninth, or Segovia, or Paris Combo’s cool grooves and a glass of Cabernet – I see of my work destined for a space filled with music, light, the smell of wine and good food, and people having great conversations. That setting would make them come alive. I cannot imagine them in a reverent, silent space. In short — environment matters!

  • This is a graet post for me as I’m working on how to make a good experience in the midst of 1200 other vendors at the Phil. Buyers’ Market. I’ve decided on a vase of bright flowers, great snacks and an eclectic mix of music to play low enough to just hear in my booth – all upbeat, no minor key; that said, I can see my work in a quiet space with all celtic music too. But that would be at least a month long hanging, not somewhere I have to capture others’ interest in 3 seconds. So I guess I’d say that art probably lends itself to many different environments depending on its end purpose at that point in time.

  • Pam: Interesting point. Perhaps it depends on the kind of art. Gam: Love this: “but more importantly are the “viewers” approach. Busy, hectic, angry, defensive?” Isn’t that the truth! It reminds me of all the kids that were forced to come to the museum when I worked there. What kind of experience do you have when you didn’t want to go to the museum/gallery/art festival in the first place? Michael: I love that you envision a space for your art. And I love the whole Beethoven scene. I can just picture it! (I was going to leave this comment on your blog, but you only allow Google comments. Might want to change that.)

  • Fiona: That’s a terrific comparison. While we know art isn’t equated with retail stores, it helps to consider how they are promoting their line. I wonder if we show some art in TOO solemn of a space. ??? Judy: I love your questions! I so appreciate the desire to look at in the reverse: What effect does art have on its environment. We could probably find all kinds of marketing language that answers this–ads from frame shops, art consultants, commercial galleries. Tammy: Very interesting. Let us know how it turns out! Have you done PBM before?

  • Well, I think it depends on the kind of art and the price range. I think small, relatively inexpensive art with a warm abstract feel or food theme sells well in cafes. People have time to look at it as they eat and can picture it in their own dining spaces. Garden sculpture looks great in, well, a garden or courtyard. Art for a formal living room, foyer or corporate space is best in a gallery. Sure, galleries are busy at openings, but those occasions are for meeting people, really. Dealers have called the big buyers to have a look beforehand. My dealers always knew what their clients had at home and what they liked. Some art–local landscapes and popular imagery–even looks okay at street fairs. Contemporary abstracts and expressionist works–uh–well, not mine, anyway.

  • I never really thought about it. Probably not much, because I am usually in my own kind of world or conciousness.

  • Environment and context are absolute to serious appreciation. It’s different from take a “look”. look from studio LDA

  • I hope some of you have tried the one-page-book idea.. please let me know… Matthew Rose / http://lalandedigitalpress.blogspot.com/

  • I believe music may be the most basic element that provides context for human beings’ experience. [Smell may be more basic, (a la Proust?)–but maybe in a another post.] Since my main subject is coastal scenes and fishing boats, I have found some recorded music that uses a simple folk approach to sea chanteys and related melodies, which I use as the background music for my open studio events. There were actually a few tears shed in response (I think), and it definitely created the right ambience for the marine art crowd on hand. Since my studio is far from the coast, I want to help people get in the right mood to appreciate my paintings. If you think about it, the music of your youth always brings back some of the vitality and excitement of that time for you. If a particular music genre links up with your subject or style, don’t miss out on providing it for your studio visitors.

  • I had a solo art show at an oyster bar near my home. I noticed that everyone (and I mean every single person I spoke to) liked one or both of the same 2 pieces. I was stumped. Prior to this I had complements on other works hung at this show. Then I took a good look at the lighting in the bar. Most of the works were only adequately lit, but the 2 everyone liked were on a different wall and had much brighter lighting. I’d have to say the environment makes a huge difference! FYI The only 2 paintings that sold from that show were the ones in the brighter lighting!

  • I think that we artists need to think a bit more consciously about the “BUZZ” that we create with a show. I have been to so many art openings that, while fun as a way to catch up with friends, just seemed so much like so much of the same. How to do this without going over the top or being too outrageous I am not quite sure. My painter friend Franco Ruiz Mondini is a master at it — he breaks the mold,(pink martinis, walls of small affordable “multiples”, a limo parked outside as a private salon for the special guests) but I am not sure his over-the-top approach works for all personalities and styles. What would other approaches be? As I plan toward a solo show opening this summer in a small artsy, resort coastal town, I am pondering my options.