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How to Interpret Sculptural Artforms – Part One

So you enter a gallery, a public space, a friend’s home or a business office and there it is – a three dimensional artwork that you’ve never seen before. Maybe it’s not even an artform or sculpture – what exactly is it? And how does it make you feel?

As three dimensional artforms  speak, their language is dependant on the surroundings they occupy – light, shadow, space and texture are just a few elements that help shape the effect of that artwork on its viewers. Is there a correct way to interpret a sculpture or three dimensional form? Or is it mere feeling and sense of mood that determine our interaction?

I came across an interesting series of slideshows on the website of Artist and Educator, Mark Creegan. If you go to this link, there are a few slideshows about art interpretation. I publish here Mark Creegan’s list of  DESCRIPTIVE questions to ask yourself when viewing a three dimensional artforms;

    • What is it?
    • What is/are the material/s?
    • What type of form?
    • What formal elements are used?
    • What organizing principles are used?
    • What degree of dimensionality?
    • What is the method of construction?
    • Where is it?
    • What type/s of experience?
    • How does it interact with the space?
    • How do you interact with it?
    • How does negative space operate?
    • Where does sculpture end and space around it begin?
    • How is it displayed (pedestal, hanging, floating, propped, lying on floor, etc) ?
    • How is gravity dealt with?
    • Does gravity seem to work with piece or is the piece seemingly defying gravity?

In Part Two, I’ll list the next round of questions.

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