Intuitive Response

The first encounter

When looking at art works for the first time we naturally have an intuitive response, we like or we don’t like or maybe we feel indifferent. We may have a strong aesthetic response or we may feel an emotional reaction. Our first responses are important, they can signal new directions, genres or artists that we want to explore. An intuitive response is however, only a starting point; we then need to gather more information and place the work in a broader context.

When discussing an art work, for example in the CS, one can start with an intuitive response and work towards a more methodical analysis. See the easy Easy Visual Analysis model page.

Good art should elicit a response of 'Huh? Wow!' as opposed to 'Wow! Huh?' (Edward Ruscha)

Teaching Activity

This slideshow is an activity I designed for teachers in workshops but it works equally well with a group of students, especially as an icebreaker in new group. It is a playful way of discovering something about your own intuitive responses to art works, both familiar and unfamiliar. By noticing what we are drawn to, we can attempt to understand why some work speaks more strongly to us than others and make conscious decisions to further explore the kinds of artistic expression that appeal to us. This is particularly useful for students who have had little exposure to art history and may be unfamiliar with certain kinds of artistic expression.

Show the slides in pairs

Look at the images below in pairs, use the pdf for optimal on screen viewing  Slideshow in pdf best projected on a large screen. Ask students to move to the side of the room that corresponds to the image that elicits the strongest intuitive response ( like or dislike). Ask each person to say a few words about why they choose that image.

Download the Intuitive Response Slideshow in pdf

Teachers notes about the images

In this slideshow we are looking at 4 sets of different approaches to artistic expression.

  • Formal vs Expressionistic
  • Conceptual vs Representational
  • Pop art vs Folk art
  • Performance vs Object based

Background information is not necessary when looking at the work as the activity is about intuitive rather than informed response.

except in the case of the performance pieces in slide sets 2 and 4

The idea is to look at the images, respond immediately, followed by a discussion of your choices. This is enough to stimulate some awareness around personal preferences and possible areas of investigation. End with a question: " What does this tell you about yourself?"

Slide set 1 Formal vs Expressionistic

Agnes Martin and Joan Mitchell

Slide set 2 Conceptual vs Representational

Simon Starling

Starling’s fascination with the transformative potential of art, or transformation as art.

Autoxylopyrocycloboros (2006). In this work, Starling reclaimed a wooden, steam-powered boat from the bottom of Lake Windermere, England. He took it on a four-hour journey on Loch Long in Scotland, where he dismantled the boat and fed it, piece by piece, into the very boiler that powered the boat. This eventually sank it, thus returning it to the bottom of the lake.

http://www.contemporaryartdaily.com/2014/10/simon-starling-at-museum-of-contemporary-art-chicago/

and Winslow Homer

Slide set 3 Pop Art vs Folk Art

Inuit master carver

Inuit carving of a hunter carrying a cub, Niviaksiak, Cambridge U Polar Museum, mid 1900s .jpg

http://www.spri.cam.ac.uk/museum/news/uncategorized/tis

and Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons

It is 1988 and Michael Jackson sits surrounded by golden flowers, in golden clothes, hugging close to him his pet chimpanzee, Bubbles. People walk around him and gawp. They don't know if they should laugh or feel creeped out or simply admire an innocent homage to genius.

The art of Jeff Koons creates a world beyond taste. It rubs the least respectable mass-cultural artefacts into the noses of people brought up to think art is about the good, the true and the lofty. Two decades after he gave the world Banality, I meet him at London's Serpentine Gallery. It is the eve of his exhibition, Popeye Series, which stars the famous spinach-eating sailor and an inflatable lobster. The king of kitsch has never looked more kingly than he does now. Jeff Koons in 2009 is a mega-artist, a business artist, rivalled in commercial success and fame only by his friend Damien Hirst

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2009/jun/30/jeff-koons-exhibition-serpentine

Slide set 4 Performance vs Object Based

Marina Abramovich

MARINA ABRAMOVIĆ THE ARTIST IS PRESENT 2010

PERFORMANCE BECOMES LIFE––AND LIFE BECOMES ART. FOR MARINA, THE BOUNDARIES ARE QUITE POROUS–

ALL DAY, EVERY DAY, FROM EARLY MARCH UNTIL THE END OF MAY, 2010, SHE WILL SIT AT A TABLE IN THE MUSEUM'S ATRIUM, IN WHAT SHE DESCRIBES AS A "SQUARE OF LIGHT." MEMBERS OF THE AUDIENCE WILL BE INVITED TO JOIN HER, ONE AT A TIME, AT THE OPPOSITE END OF THE TABLE. THERE WILL BE NO TALKING, NO TOUCHING, NO OVERT COMMUNICATION OF ANY KIND. HER OBJECTIVE IS TO ACHIEVE A LUMINOUS STATE OF BEING AND THEN TRANSMIT IT­­––TO ENGAGE IN WHAT SHE CALLS "AN ENERGY DIALOGUE" WITH THE AUDIENCE.

and Damien Ortega

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