“1. Go to museums alone. Seeing takes concentration and calm
2. Don’t try to see everything - pick a few rooms and choose ones painting.
3. Minimize distractions - pick an un-crowded room and work in good light.
4. Take your time - sit, relax, get up, come back, expect that it may take a long time for a painting to speak to you.
5. Pay full attention - give the work what Fried called “absorption.”
6. Do you own thinking. Read, study, “but when it comes to looking, just look and make up your own mind”
7. be on the lookout for people who are really looking, not simply browsing and checking labels. Observe them with out disturbing them and, if you can talk to them without disturbing them, do.
8. Be faithful: return to paintings you’ve spent time with.”—
- James Elkins, Pictures and Tears: A History of People Who Have Cried in Front of Paintings (2001)
One of my greatest passions is studying how museums work. How their exhibits are designed, what they stand for, how architecture affects the way objects are presented. I love it all. I’m also really passionate about making sure (or at least trying to make sure) art, whether it be baroque, modern, contemporary, etc…, is accessible to all.
Annnyway, I hope that these simple guidelines from Elkins will be helpful to some/all y’all. I think they’re pretty great for both people who love art, and for those who are indifferent.