For many years, for many decades, in many places and by many, many people, the question has been asked of what exactly it is that makes art real, true art. People point to artists like Picasso, who painted abstract piece, or Piet Mondrian, who painted, upon other things, his famous Composition II with Red Blue and Yellow, a series of different sized squares and rectangles, all solid colors. These pieces of art are revered by art enthusiasts and worth millions on the market, even though they may not come across to the layman as encapsulating real life very well.
And the appreciation of art is certainly not limited to just the fine art of painting or drawing, but to pieces of artistic expression such as music. Many people–particularly older generations–often complain that “today’s music” can’t hold a candle to the jazz, blues and classic rock of yesterday. Likewise, many young people find artists like Bill Evans, John Coltrane or Elvis to be bland, boring or downright bad!
But learning how to appreciate not just your favorite piece of art and music, but all of the art you find is central to improving the way you walk through life.
They Tell a Story
Both art and music tell stories deeper than what you may see on a canvas or hear on the radio. When someone spends weeks crafting a beautifully painted piece of art, the real essence of the art isn’t necessarily in what the picture shows, but what it tells! “The Old Guitarist” by Picasso isn’t a remarkable painting only because it was created by a talented artist, the piece actually tells a story and can evoke emotions in viewers. When you gaze upon the work, you feel how the old guitarist feels, you understand his thoughts and emotions simply through Picasso’s choice of form and colors.
Similarly, music of all forms can tell a story, whether lyrics are a part of the song or not. Some songs can be taken at face value–if someone sings about falling in love there is a good chance the story being told is about just that. But other times you must look deeper to appreciate the story behind the music. When Elvis Presley sung Hound Dog, he told a story that was originally written by BigMama Thornton. She wasn’t singing about her puppy, of course, she was singing about her husband, who couldn’t provide for her, whined and cried, and fell into the trap of becoming a “dog,” someone who isn’t faithful.
It Can Help us Emotionally
How many times have you heard someone who is going through a tough time turn to music to help them through it? If we are grieving the loss of a family member or the end of a relationship, we often turn to music–some turn to sad, slow music to bring out the emotions (and tears) that we feel like we want to shed at the time, while others turn to upbeat, happy music to help them to forget about their woes and feel happy again.
Looking again at Picasso’s Old Guitarist we can see how emotions are portrayed in the painting, which has no words and feels no observable feeling. Picasso, however, uses flatforms and a crouched perspective on his painting as well as the trademark deep blue palette to evoke feelings of sadness and despair in the viewer. These feelings are put on full display though only Picasso’s artistic skill, he doesn’t have to tell us how to feel when we look at it, we just know–we feel it.
Art, whether it is paintings, drawings, sculptures, music or otherwise was created to be appreciated. It’s time that we as a civilization learn to appreciate it and let us take away from the art what the artists intended, making the relationship between artist and consumer beneficial to everyone involved.