Art and art appreciation is usually categorized as entertainment, primarily because it is something we do with our free time. Unless you are an artist, gallery owner, agent or dealer, art is probably not your profession so you participate in your enjoyment of fine art when you can get away from work.
But there is something unique about fine art that is different from other forms of entertainment. More so than bowling, playing cards, camping or skiing, great art can make changes to us at a fundamental level and make us more mature and reflective people.
Art appreciation is an acquired taste. To be able to enjoy fine art, one must go through a period of acclimation and growth as a person. To someone who does not know how to enjoy fine art, the sight of an art lover standing for an hour in front of a great painting, unmoving seems virtually absurd. They cannot understand that even though the art lover is still and the art work is not moving, there is a hurricane of emotion, passion and communication between the art lover, the artwork and the artist all taking place that cannot be seen with the eyes.Artists share some characteristics with poets, playwrights and even evangelists because they often are burning with a message to passalong to mankind. And because art is their language and way of talking to us, that artist pours his soul into an artwork to reach you and I when we come upon that artwork and “unlock” the meaning and hear the message the artist has to say.
In that way, great art can communicate philosophical, ethical, moral, political, poetic or religious ideas just as loudly as any speaker presenting a convincing diatribe from a pulpit. The language of the artist is the image and the stirring emotions those images provoke.But those images can change how we view the world and how we understand the deeper idea that the artist wanted us to ponder with him or her in ways that could never be communicated any other way.
Artists call upon us to look deep within ourselves and reflect on our place in the universe and within the scope of human history. These are “deep thoughts” that we would not ordinarily ponder left to our own. So the artist is doing us a great service by facilitating deeper reflection. That deeper reflection makes us wiser people, more mature and intelligent people and people of heart and soul more so than if the artist never spoke to us.
The reflection that time spent with great art births in us can cause changes at a very deep place in our personalities. It is not uncommon for a dad to come away from time with a great artwork with a resolve to be a better father and to take time to savor the moments he has with his children. A minister may come to a moment of quiet in his soul looking at a fine art work and walk away with a deeper appreciation for his place in the lives of his congregation and a stronger conviction to do all he can to minister to the needy in the community.
Even the politician or businessman will be challenged by great art to stop and think about not just what we do but why we do it. Fine art shines a light in our souls and shows us things about ourselves that no human counselor could ever reveal. And if we grow into better people, people of heart and an empathy for others around us and people who spend time in time and reflection about the big affairs or our lives, then the time we spend with fine art allowing it to change us will have been time well spent indeed.