Every two months the prestigious photography magazine LensWork arrives at our home. I am not the photographer in the family, but I love to look at good fine art photos. Some may give me ideas for my painting. Some I find to be mediocre. I also like to read the comments of the editor, Brooks Jensen. In the latest issue (No. 109) he writes about the importance of understanding that viewers connect to art in various ways.
In interacting with an aunt who was evaluating several images, Brooks noticed that the images that she considered valuable, interesting, and compelling, were based on whether she had any connection to the content of the image. Similarly, our artwork will only be valuable or desirable to those who feel a pull or are seduced by the content.
Brooks states, “The artwork that is meaningful and truly speaks to us — and thereby has value — is the artwork that connects with us on a deeper level than like and dislike. It connects with us because somehow it explains, clarifies, illuminates, sympathetically vibrates with, or in some other way touches us either emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually.”
Trying to understand why and how a collector decides to by a particular painting of mine has sometimes been a mystery to me. Sometimes a friend will surprise me by purchasing a piece because the content of the painting is not a topic that I imagine would be compelling to her. I then realize that there are many things I don’t know about her, or perhaps have projected onto her. Here is one such piece.
It is also mysterious how one piece in my show could have been sold many times because, I surmise, it had some universal as well as personal appeal. I can never guess which painting will be the highlight of the show, but there always seems to be one or two that are the most desirable. Here are two that fall into that category:
Equally mysterious to me is why a painting that I consider perhaps one of my best, does not sell at an exhibit. It may sell later or never. Here is one of my favorite endeavors that has not yet sold.
Have you done work or looked at a piece of art that surprised you by how compelling it is?