Inside Looking Out
Art in the current time of COVID-19 has been difficult to view, new works have been centered on health and ominous themes, and yet there is still a desire to become exposed and learn more about art. For those wishing to know more about art, they might first turn to museums for their virtual tours and online collections. While these tools are useful, they often times are limited. Tours might not include all works, or the tour itself is static and unnatural. Online collections are difficult to navigate if the viewer does not know what they wish to see, and pieces might be recorded in the collection but do not have corresponding images of the work or detailed museum labels. The intent of museums is to bring you into their space to view art, so it is understandable how the online tools are underdeveloped, but how might people access and discover art during the quarantine? There is no one solution, but many unconventional methods to see and experience past and present art.
If viewing museums online collections are not satisfying or too difficult to use the next best option might be to view art through books. For those who are just beginning to learn about art or wanting to brush up on their art history knowledge might want to read E.H. Gombrich’s The Story of Artand/or H.W. Janson’s History of Art. These books serve as an overview to the Western cannon of art and are not flawless in their introduction of art periods and styles. However, they are approachable and include photos of the works they discuss which makes them fine introduction into the art world. If there is a specific culture or time period that someone wants to focus on, some of the best books come from university presses such as Yale, Harvard, Cambridge, Columbia, and Oxford.
Besides reading about art, art enthusiasts have the option of listening about art through podcasts. Many podcasts have been produced specifically to discuss art history and opinions about art. A quick online search will provide numerous podcasts options and many of these podcasts are accessible through Apple Podcast and Google Podcast.
Another way to engage with art is through trying to spot art and art references in pop culture. Famous works are displayed in numerous films, referenced in music videos, utilized as magazine covers, and inspire advertisements. As a fun exercise and or challenge it might interest viewers to see Vogue’s history with artists like Warhol, Dalí, Míro, Currin, Mattisse and Duchamp or name each work/reference Beyoncé and JAY-Z make in their 2018 music video APES**T. As another engaging art challenge, recreating art works might bring one closer to the art community. It has been a trend throughout the quarantine to pose for photos to mimic famous art works through objects found around the home. The Getty Museum and the Dutch Instagram, Tussen Kunst & Quarantine, have been sharing and generating photos of recreations across social media which have been engaging with viewers and also provide a way to discover art which might not be as well known.
These options are not the only ways to engage with art during the time of COVID-19, but are suggestions to expand one’s exposure and engagement to the art world.