Recent Articles
Genesis Tramaine Artspace Edition Debuts at UNTITLED, ART
Artist to Watch
Genesis Tramaine Artspace Edition Debuts at UNTITLED, ART
5 Great Pieces To Bid On in the Together In Distance Auction
Investment Pieces
5 Great Pieces To Bid On in the Together In Distance Auction
What to Say About Your New Robert Longo Print
Living With Art
What to Say About Your New Robert Longo Print
News Of A Very Special Auction
Investment Pieces
News Of A Very Special Auction
10 Questions for LatchKey Gallery co-founders
10 x 10 x 10
10 Questions for LatchKey Gallery co-founders Natalie Kates and Amanda L. Uribe
INTERVIEW: Elmgreen & Dragset
Meet the Artist
INTERVIEW: Elmgreen & Dragset 'What We Need to do, As Cultural Workers Today, Is to Find a New Way of Getting Back Our Dignity as Citizens'
10 Questions for RESORT Gallery co-founders Seth Adelsberger and
10 x 10 x 10
10 Questions for RESORT Gallery co-founders Seth Adelsberger and Alex Ebstein
10 Questions for River Gallery Founder Carl E. Smith
10 x 10 x 10
10 Questions for River Gallery Founder Carl E. Smith
10 Questions for Davis Editions and Originals Founder Jeff Davis
10 x 10 x 10
10 Questions for Davis Editions and Originals Founder Jeff Davis
10 Questions for Baby Blue Gallery Founder Caleb Beck
10 x 10 x 10
10 Questions for Baby Blue Gallery Founder Caleb Beck
10 Questions for Carvalho Park's Jennifer Carvalho
10 x 10 x 10
10 Questions for Carvalho Park co-Founder Jennifer Carvalho
The Making of Love, Rihanna: Luxury Supreme
Close Look
'A Piece of Art That I am Really Proud Of' - Rihanna on Love, Rihanna: Luxury Supreme
INTERVIEW: Sterling Ruby
Meet the Artist
INTERVIEW: Sterling Ruby 'In America, often the response to negative aspects of the system is to retreat to platitudes about morals and family values. In this way nothing is achieved.'
INTERVIEW: Kerry James Marshall
Meet the Artist
INTERVIEW: Kerry James Marshall 'I never think of artworks as having a quality that’s intended to mobilize people to action. They don’t make people do things. But they do put questions in the mind of a viewer that they may not have entertained before...'
Come On Our Virtual Studio Visit With Maria Jimena Herrera
Meet the Artist
Come On Our Virtual Studio Visit With Maria Jimena Herrera

Collecting 101

How to Really, Truly Appreciate a Work of Art

By

How to Really, Truly Appreciate a Work of Art

Some people might tell you that taking in a work of art is no different from gazing upon a beautiful flower, or a spectacular sunset. But ask yourself: do you really know how to look at a flower? Can you parse the various biological marvels on display? Are you perhaps missing something? Art is no different—there are places to inspect, aspects to weigh, artistic skills to suss out and savor. These, of course, will differ from person to person, but here are a few things to look for (other than the obvious beauty-related ones) that will help you really, truly appreciate a work of art.

 

1. HOW WAS IT MADE?

 

WILLIAM ANASTASIWilliam Anastasi’s Untitled (Method & Madness A) Jul. 19, 2010, 2010 – $16,000 on Artspace 

When you look at it, most art just sits there, static, a picture or object on display. But the sensitive eye can rewind the video tape, so to speak, and read the way the artwork was constructed. Were the brushes laid down fast or sedulously? Where was the camera placed? Like a detective at a crime scene, take the time to unravel the way the artwork in front of you as a record of a performance—one that expressed the artist’s virtuosity.

 

2. WHAT'S IT MADE OUT OF? (BE CAREFUL)

 

LAURA MURRAYLaura Murray’s Oklahoma Study #7, 2015 – $700 on Artspace 

Artists, modern-day alchemists, love to transmute. A nail poking out from a stick of wood, in the hands of Susan Collis, can be pure platinum; a church by Al Farrow may be made from bullets; Amber Cobb’s cloth dangling from the wall might be silicone. As for paintings, marvel in the fact that each stroke of paint consists of pigment—essentially, colored dirt—suspended in viscous matter, which the artist conjures to do their bidding.

 

3. DOES IT SET YOU FREE?

 

BREYER P-ORRIDGEGenesis Breyer P-Orridge’s Triple Androgyne, 2014 – $150 on Artspace

Artists often operate from a step off the mainstream, using an outsider’s vantage to offer new perspectives on things we often take for granted and suggest possible alternatives. These can relate to anything from the way Picasso saw a bull’s head in a bicycle seat to Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographic revelation that male sexuality has a wide ranges of orders that aren’t listed on the normative menu. Allow these works to untether your imagination. 

 

4. HOW DOES IT CONNECT TO OLDER ART?

 

WADE GUYTONWade Guyton’s Untitled (They Work Together Beautifully), 2015 – $10,000 on Artspace

Harold Bloom wrote of the “anxiety of influence,” and artists are acutely aware of their places within the traditions of their mediums. Sometimes, as in the case of Jose Dàvila, they try to harmonize with their artistic forebears, making work with reverent reference to what came before; others, like Alan Magee, strive to exorcise their influences. As with a note on a musical score, the artwork you’re looking at may depend on one that came before for its meaning. Try to determine if that’s the case.

 

5. HOW DOES IT CONNECT TO SOCIETY?

  

CLAIRE FONTAINEClaire Fontaine’s Untitled (refugees), 2015 – $130 on Artspace

Art doesn’t have to be “about” anything, really, but sometimes it’s about you. Or your friends. Or your political order. Or the fate of people half a world away. Artists frequently use their position to put their own particular lens on society, illuminating ills, underscoring hypocrisies, offering potential futures, or delving into resonant traumas of the past. If that’s the case, take the time to decode and absorb the artist’s message.

 

6. IS IT AVANT-GARDE?

 

BRENNA MURPHYBrenna Murphy’s opal resonancy valley, 2014 – $4,000 on Artspace

Think of artists as the scouts of their tribe, slipping out in the early half-light to explore the uncertain terrain ahead. What they bring back might not look like art—it might be confusing, unrecognizable, irritating. When you see a work that you just can’t place—as in, it’s not a painting or anything else you’ve seen before—and its disagreeability makes you uneasy, pay close attention. It may be the next breakthrough in art.

DISCOVER

a treasure trove of fine art from the world's most renowned artists, galleries, museums and cultural institutions. We offer exclusive works you can't find anywhere else.

LEARN

through exclusive content featuring art news, collecting guides, and interviews with artists, dealers, collectors, curators and influencers.

BUY

authentic artworks from across the globe. Collecting with us means you're helping to sustain creative culture and supporting organizations that are making the world a better place.

CONNECT

with our art advisors for buying advice or to help you find the art that's perfect for you. We have the resources to find works that suit your needs.

INSIDER ACCESS TO THE WORLD'S BEST ART

Artspace offers you authentic, exclusive works from world-renowned artists, galleries, museums and cultural institutions. Collecting with us helps support creative culture while bringing you art news, interviews and access to global art resources.

  • COLLECT FROM 300+ GALLERIES & MUSEUMS