In the previous post, How to Appreciate Paintings #66, we talked about looking at the painting first before looking at the label on the wall.
Looking at the painting before looking at the label allows us to experience the painting fully by ourselves. We form our own thoughts about what the painting is, we realize our own emotions brought about by the painting, we shape our own opinions of the painting.
Looking at the label after looking at the painting allows us to experience the painting from the viewpoint of another. The label provides information prepared by the artist or curator of the exhibtion. This information gives us new insights that may contradict, confirm, or change our earlier thoughts and emotions of the painting.
The title of the painting may surprise us, contradicting what we had thought the painting was about. The year the painting was painted may assure us, confirming what we had felt about the painting. The write up of the painting may prompt us, changing what we had concluded about the painting.
Our experience of the painting is richer and our appreciation of the painting is greater when we look at the painting first before we look at the label because we spend more time and effort with the painting.
Looking at the label before looking at the painting is like taking a short cut, where we reach our destination swiftly, but miss the opportunity to enjoy the scenery and sweat on our way there.
How to appreciate paintings? Look at the painting first, before you look at the label on the wall.