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Taking your first steps into higher education
Taking your first steps into higher education

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2.2 The relationship between effects and techniques

Think back to Activity 4. Did you find yourself concluding that you liked or disliked any of the artworks? Or even that you loved or hated them? As with poetry, liking or disliking something is a common first reaction to an artwork and there is nothing wrong with having these views. As you know, an artwork is often created in order to appeal to your emotions, so it would be rather odd if you ignored them. The 2003 Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry agrees:

I think it’s about time that people started to bring their senses into play more and trust their bodily reactions to work – become more willing to say, ‘Wow! That is really lovely. I love that!’, rather than looking for the meaning of it all the time.

(Berens, 2003) 

(If you would like to hear more from Grayson Perry, try listening to his series of Reith lectures [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] [press ctrl and click on link to open in a new window] for a wonderfully entertaining introduction to contemporary art – but this is not part of the course!)

Having said this, for academic purposes it is also helpful to allow some reaction time after your first impression, and to think about the techniques that have achieved these effects and what the artist might be trying to say. Then, rather than simply saying ‘This painting is really gloomy, I just don’t like it’, you can say something like ‘This painting makes me feel gloomy and uneasy because of the dominant purple and green colours.’ Such a statement makes a connection between the ‘effects’ and ‘techniques’ points of the study diamond and can form the basis of an argument about the possible meaning of an artwork.