Editor's Note: Linda Mai Green is an American curator and photographer now based in Berlin. I interviewed Linda about modern art, and how a non-expert can understand, appreciate, and enjoy art. Her responses are below.
Jake Horowitz (JH): How can someone without any artistic background understand and appreciate modern art?
Linda Green (LG): By looking and listening carefully, and if intrigued, by doing some reading into the background of the artist and the concerns of his or her time, or geographic location. Sometimes modern/contemporary art that I see in galleries or museums can really stump me. When it does, I take a step back, examine the materials, the process (how the artist actually made the piece), how the piece looks overall, and then form my opinion about those things.
JH: How long is too long to stare at a painting/sculpture?
LG: There's no too long, unless you feel hungry or thirsty or have to go to the bathroom.
JH: What are 2-3 good “introductory” artists that can help people get more invested in art?
LG: Damien Hirst is always controversial because of the astronomical prices people pay for his art. No matter what anyone says about him, his works definitely create a lively debate about the value of art today. One of my favorites, Cindy Sherman, got her start in the 1980's in the so-called "Pictures Generation" group. She photographs herself in elaborate disguises to play with our expectations of images. Another important artist to know is Marcel Duchamp, who famously submitted a urinal in 1917, entitled "Fountain," to an exhibition, but it was rejected.
JH: What period of art are we in today? What are the characteristics? Are we in a heyday for art, or at a low point?
LG: That's a hard question. If the artist is living, his or her art is contemporary. In 200 years, what will they call our period? I am not sure, but I think the hallmark of our period is the advances we've made with information, the internet, and other digital developments. Because of these developments, everyone today can access images from anywhere around the world, be a photographer, or even make movies. This democratization will be an element that will be discussed in art history of the future as well.
JH: How do artists break into the business? How successful does an artist need to be before his/her work gets featured in a museum?
LG: It's sad to say, but yes, art can be just like any other business. Artists "break through" with a mix of talent, luck, and connections. Museum curators usually pick artists for exhibitions, so artists must be on the curators' radar.
For more, follow Linda's blog here.