| I was recently going through my old files and I came across this article I wrote for an online magazine – and it could not be more fitting. For those who are going out for the final weekend of the Italian Masterpieces at NGV, or find themselves being invited to art galleries and exhibitions that they awkwardly blow off because they have a belief they don’t know enough about art to go to an opening (like I used to), well, make this the one this is the one thing read today:

Andrew D Flanagan |

There are two misconceptions with the world of art and gallery openings. 
First is that you need to know about art. Second is that you need an invite.

Both ideas are incorrect.
Most openings are come one come many; a social affair for the art world, art lovers, and greater community. Even so, that doesn’t necessarily silence that voice in the back of your mind saying ‘You don’t know anything about art and you shouldn’t be there’.
The best piece of advice I was given:
Fake it til you make it.
We are all constantly learning, and this is no exception. Think about these events as a social affair bringing together a community focusing on an artists interpretation of the world. They are events for everyone to attend. They attract a range of people from all walks of life, experiences and circles. There is no one who doesn’t fit the mould for the art scene. Its about everyone. Artists, friends, family supporters, clients, ongoing supporters, collectors, industry professionals, and you.
In some ways its less about art and more about the social side of things. Never let the artist hear me say that – but a lot of people aren’t there for the art but more the collective presence of being a part of the community of the artists and the scene.

Just being honest.

Art openings are celebrations of the art, welcoming community participation and discussion. What to discuss? Everything.

When you arrive at the gallery have a look around. Don’t be shy. Get out there. Say hello. Look at all the art first. Get a feeling for the event and the people there. Don’t do the seagull impression searching for famous or

attractive people. You are important, and behave as such. The attractive and famous will find you, or you will be introduced to them.

Take the art in and ask yourself a few questions: Do I like it? Why do I like it? Why don’t I like it? How was it made?
Spend the first 15-25min looking at the work, reading information about the exhibition, artist bio and curatorial text. When introduced to new people always find out who you are talking to. The amount of times I’ve said something negative and it turns out to be a relation of the artists is embarrassing. Even then its your right to say what you want; its your opinion and the art world is all about opinions. As long as you can justify your opinion.

When talking about the work remember it doesn’t have to be art shorthand and detailed discussion of the brushwork. Anyone can learn and experience the work. That happens through discussion.

Don’t use fancy words you don’t know the meaning of to try and impress someone. In saying that use your words correctly, and more efficiently. Words like exorbitant, monumental, monotonous and unvaried rather than a rip off, over priced, boring and the same as every other piece of contemporary art -ever. When you go to say, ‘I could do better than that’, twist the focus and say you’ve inspired me to create my own art.

On that note – I hate contemporary art for that reason. It seems to be just paint splashed on canvas representing a feeling of a perspective of our community etc etc. If you ever admit that you are hit with

a wall of ‘You are just uncultured if you think that…’ No. Really. It’s literally paint he threw at the wall. There is a piece of art in Amsterdam that is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars – that is a canvas painted black. That’s it. Black.

It is what it means. How it makes you feel… It’s all part of the game. Learn to love playing it and you will have a good time. More often than not, everyone else is probably thinking the exact same thing.


For a more in depth discussion think about the following specific elements within the artwork.

Things to consider when looking at a painting

What is the title?

Who is the artist?

What is the size of the piece?

What media and processes were used in creating it?

Look at the Subject – people/ place/object.

What Elements were used? The Colour(s).
Consider Light/Dark values. Shapes in the piece.

Look for Texture. Rough/ Smooth, how that effects the work and what it says.

How has the artist suggested depth or space in the piece?

What emotions/moods/feel- ings does it communicate?

Then go into the Elements of the work


Value – lights and dark Line

Texture Shape / form Space.


Variety Gradation Movement Rhythm Proportion

**Use these words when talking, and discussing the work, and you will be considered an art connoisseur in no time.

About The Author

Andrew D Flanagan Editor Melbourne Social 101

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