Dudes, how much do you know about art?
Some say that art is man’s loftiest endeavor — a mortal attempt to be like God, to create something where there was nothing, to move the spirit and touch the soul. Others say that art is a load of sheep dip. Most of us fall somewhere in between, able to appreciate a pretty picture, but in constant amazement that “patrons” will pay $700,000 for a painting of a red square on a white background.
That said, would you know how to speak about art if the conversation at the table, bar or gallery moseyed over in that direction?
Let’s break it down; Art Appreciation is not rocket science. Recognising the value of art simply means being able to look at works and forming your own opinions.
However to have sound judgment, you need to have a basis to work from; a context from which to wax lyrical and opine on what you’re seeing.
This is where the elements of art come into place.
The elements of art are sort of like atoms, in that both serve as “building blocks.”
Instead of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, etc., in art you’ve got line, shape, form, space, texture, value and color. Artists manipulate these elements, mix them in with principles of design and compose a piece of art. Not every work has every last one of these elements contained within it, but there are always at least two present.
For example, a sculptor, by default, has to have both form and space in a sculpture, because these elements are three-dimensional. They can also be made to appear in two-dimensional works through the use of perspective and shading.
Art would be sunk without line, sometimes known as “a moving point.” While line isn’t something found in nature, it is absolutely essential as a concept to depicting objects and symbols, and defining shapes.
Texture is another element, like form or space, that can be real (run your fingers over an Oriental rug, or hold an unglazed pot), created (think of van Gogh’s lumpy, impasto-ed canvases) or implied (through clever use of shading).
Why are the elements of art important?
For several reasons. First, and most importantly, a person can’t create art without utilizing at least a few of them. No elements, no art, end of story. And we wouldn’t even be talking about any of this, would we?
Secondly, knowing what the elements of art are enables us to (1) describe what an artist has done, (2) analyze what is going on in a particular piece and (3) communicate our thoughts and findings using a common language.
So it is with the elements of art. Once you know what the elements are, you can trot them out, time after time, and never put a wrong foot forward in the Art World.
So when you’re next stumped for conversation at a gallery show, try “The artist’s use of _________(insert element here) is interesting.”
This is a much safer course than attempting to psychoanalyze the artist (after all, you may be standing in a clump of people that includes his or her mother) or using words which leave you a bit uncertain of exact meanings and/or pronunciations.
Or you could just stare closely at the canvas for a long, slow moment, then suddenly lean back dramatically, let out a low whistle of amazement and declare … “Utter bollocks!”
Speaking about art appreciation, it seems the designs from Enrico Coveri’s menswear line are channelling cubism – the 20th century avant-garde art style pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture.
Pablo Picasso’s Le guitariste, 1910, oil on canvas is a great example of Analytic Cubism and we think Enrico Coveri’s Spring 2011 campaign, as seen in this post, is a great case of excellent cubist art on cloth.
(FYI – so you can rattle this off at your next arty event – In cubist artworks, objects are broken up, analyzed, and re-assembled in an abstracted form—instead of depicting objects from one viewpoint, the artist depicts the subject from a multitude of viewpoints to represent the subject in a greater context. Often the surfaces intersect at seemingly random angles, removing a coherent sense of depth. The background and object planes interpenetrate one another to create the shallow ambiguous space, one of cubism’s distinct characteristics.)