BEFORE YOU BUY: HOW TO LOOK AT ART?

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

A Brief Guidance and Explanation for New Buyer on How to Understand an Art Piece.



Imagine, you are walking throughout the national gallery of your respective country and discovering hundreds to thousands of paintings of your local maestros from time to time. Different styles, different approaches, and yet you are confused, “What’s the meaning of this? Why this one particular painting worth to be exhibited here?” Then, you hear someone talking within their group, admiring and praising the specific painting that does not give any spark to you. You are constantly wondering while keeping walk through the gallery’s corridors, what makes this artwork great and hailed, and you are upset because you want to understand but can’t. Together, we will guide you on this page a simple way to look at art and understand them a little.


You may hear about art from a glimpse of history subject in school. Still, honestly, there’s not much coverage about art history since there are fewer painters who gave an impact to the world rather than the other artists such as poets, musicians, and writers, especially in Indonesia, where you might find no painters are listed as a national hero. Yet, in “100 Figures who Changed Indonesia,” first published in 2005, Affandi and Soedjojono were listed as one of the 100 influential figures in Indonesia, which is great to hear. So, if you feel irritated for not knowing much about art and its history, fear not because maybe art did not have a significant role in the development or the journey of your national history, that was filled with war and military, politicians, activists, and journalists figures.


Let’s get back again; you are sitting in the same gallery, staring at the paintings surround you while wondering, “what these painting speak about?” In accordance to know them more, there’s guidance that you can follow by understanding some key elements of the respective painting that caught your interest which is:

  • The background history,

  • the painter’s biography,

  • the date this painting was created (you can examine from the political and economic status back then, or social issues that were hyped at that time),

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