Now, let's talk about how I can appreciate the painting that I showed above. Obviously this style of artwork is quite different from my own style, so in order to gain an appreciation for this style of work, I needed to find out more about the context--the WHY and HOW. So, I started by learning more about the artist, Robert Ryman. It turns out, although most people would classify his work as minimalist (myself included), Ryman prefers to be known as a REALIST, in that he works to present the materials that he uses at their face value. For a 2010 exhibit, he wrote: "I am not a picture painter. I work with real light and space, and since real light is an important aspect of the paintings, it always presents some problems." Knowing those two things: 1.)Working with a wide variety of MATERIALS and 2.) Working with REAL LIGHT and SPACE inform his work, provides a whole new level of understanding and appreciation for Ryman's work. He has experimented with a very impressive number of different materials in order to better understand how to paint with them. Although his finished pieces look relatively simple, his process that goes into each piece is incredible. For the piece above, titled, "Duration," he used lauscaux acrylic paint, which have the same texture as fine oil paints. They are also LIGHT-FAST and highly resistant to aging (which is no surprise, based on the things we've learned about his WHY). This piece also explores the colors of different lights, which you can see upon closer observation. The bolts that he used in the corners were designed specifically for this piece. Last but not least, Ryman uses titles purely for identification of the work--not in any reference to the specific piece. He made this piece purely in reference to the materials used. So, after learning more about the context for this specific piece, I would have more of an appreciation for his work in an exhibition space such as the one pictured below, realizing that HOW he made the piece was just as important as WHY he made it.
So, while you might not LOVE every work of art that you come across, I would encourage you to explore those artists and the context behind their work in order to develop an appreciation, or a better understanding of why they make what they make. You might surprise yourself in the process!