Viewer Response

Visiting an exhibition "cold" vs. prepared

How is this a different experience?

Visiting an exhibition without any preparation or prior gathering of information is a very different experience from visiting the same show after having done a bit of background research (or at least reading the exhibition captions). Generally I think students get much more out of a show if they have done some prep, but it is still useful at times to drop into a new aesthetic experience out of the blue.

This way of approaching new artworks intuitively first, then adding knowledge and information -and seeing how this changes your response- can be linked to the activity Intuitive Response

Next time you are taking your students to see a major exhibit that they have done some preliminary research on, try going to see another show, maybe in a small gallery, something that they know nothing about, and asking them to compare their own immediate responses as a viewer.

Use these questions for a class TOK discussion or an informal written response in the journal

level: challenging

TOK/Art Questions on viewer response

  1. Is it important for a work of art to be seen by an audience or not?
  2. Does the viewer need to have knowledge of art history in order to understand the artwork? Should art be “accessible” to those without this knowledge?
  3. How has the role of the audience’s response to art changed from the Renaissance to today?
  4. What knowledge of art can be gained by focusing on the viewers response?
  5. Can it be argued that art is brought into being only in the response of the audience, that a work is created anew each time it is viewed?
  6. What is the role of the critic in judging the value of art?
  7. Are any of the following sufficient indicators of the value of a work: its popularity, its commercial value in the market, its universality in its appeal beyond its cultural boundaries, and/or its longevity?
All materials on this website are for the exclusive use of teachers and students at subscribing schools for the period of their subscription. Any unauthorised copying or posting of materials on other websites is an infringement of our copyright and could result in your account being blocked and legal action being taken against you.