Why We Must Experience Art In Person
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Why We Must Experience Art In Person

The artwork in photographs only tells part of the story

Why We Must Experience Art In Person
Bailey Shafer

With the rise of the digital age, art has become more accessible than ever before. All it takes is the stroke of a couple keys and suddenly a library of art from any time period can appear on the screen. There is much to be gained from exposure to so many types of art. That being said, when we stop viewing art in person we lose a bit of the meaning and the experience.

Photography and internet has made art so much more accessible for the world. It is considerably cheaper and much less time consuming to look up a work of art than to travel to it. Generally speaking the art still retains many of its important qualities. You can see the subject and the background and colors will all still appear in an image.But there are things missing. A picture can't show the buildup of paint created by repeated brush strokes by the artist. It can't show you the bend in the wood the work was painted on. Seeing art in person really changes how it is interpreted.

My art knowledge prior to my sophomore year was limited at best. I didn't really realize all that I was missing until I actually started to see great works of art in person. From prints of Van Gogh's sunflowers I couldn't see the brush strokes; I had no idea they were so pronounced. To be able to see the really see the minute details of artwork transformed the way I thought of the works themselves. Every work was a product of trial and error, with hours of work put into even the tiniest of spaces.

With sculpture, the importance of viewing art in person is even greater. Sculpture attempts to convey a sense of motion to the viewer. Still images may show you one particular angle to view from, but they eliminate the infinite number of other possibilities from which to experience it. The problem is how do you capture a picture of a sculpture best. Video would be a better solution than still photography, but it still does not allow for the viewer to naturally follow the movement they see around a sculpture.

Looking at art through photographs has made it far more accessible. it usually is not possible to see all the great works in person. Most of the time we cannot hop on a plane and fly to a given location, it just isn't feasible. Photos are great in these instances, but it is important to realize that they are not a complete image of the painting or artwork. There are details that cannot be seen here. Only getting up close and examining the art can we see the full story of it's creation and life. One art piece I saw had the canvas entirely removed and replaced because it was rotting. I didn't even know that was possible! Others have been restored by removing old coatings of deteriorating varnish. Statues from antiquity tell stories with their missing parts, so even the imperfections add to the wonder of them. These stories aren't always going to be seen in a digital photo.

Keep on diving deeper into art, even if through photographs. The experiences is still worthwhile. However, realize the artwork tells a deeper story, one which can be explored through visiting in person.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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