Art Appreciation: Emotional vs Intellectual Delight

(c) Copyright 2008-2012 David j Dilworth

Art is merely – the use of skill to devise an aesthetic result.

“Running Fence” by Christo & Jeanne-Claude

Christo and Jeanne-Claude Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California 1972-76 Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 1976 Christo Click for ChristoJeanneClaude.net

Art can be as simple as a child putting a nick in a stick for his mother, or as grandiose as Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s miles of fabric across landscape.

Art has one particularly notable aspect. Unlike phenomena in physical sciences, its key facets of aesthetics, beauty and feelings, cannot be measured. It defines the difference between objective and subjective.

Emotional Impact

Only you know how you Feel about an Art work. 

We can not accurately tell anyone else how they feel. If I told someone else how they should feel about anything — that would be a presumptuous insult, especially about art.

So don’t let an art expert tell you which art you should like, or shouldn’t.

If you like an art work – that’s great. But you don’t need training to know what feels good. (1)

If you don’t like a work – that’s fine too; don’t worry about it — not even for a moment. (However, that is no reason to publicly offend the artist with your lack of delight.)

Intellectual Delight

Now beyond the raw emotional impact you might get from an image is an intellectual delight it may give you. (This is where art experts can help you.)

Blue Feather Details

Blue Feather Details

Woman's Sunlit Cheek

Woman’s Sunlit Cheek

There may be exquisite details (feather quills), subtle colors (a woman’s sunlit cheek fading into shadow), or hidden structure (eyes closeup), which only become apparent upon careful inspection.

And then . . .

Which brings us to yet another kind of reaction – Visceral !

Recently after hearing some fabulous sounds of ecstasy, upon my inquiry, a charming and gorgeous woman delightedly and proudly admitted she’d had an . . . , well . . .  lets say she had forgotten all about shopping — while viewing one of my photographs.

I leave it to you to see if you can figure out which image. The only hint you get is that there is no human visible. (and wow! do I now have an exciting new goal for my photographs . . . :-)

Good art, like good writing and good teaching, is what jumps off the work and stays in your mind.

Great art does that and more; it enkindles and ignites you to create new ideas . . . the more the better.

– David Dilworth, 2009