If we want to know about our history, we look at art. The long-cherished artworks tell us how the people have lived and thought for eons. In fact, art is seen and believed to be the reflection of society at the given time.
While we learn history from art, there are some lessons that we can learn from art history itself. These lessons are not just for artists or art history students but for everyone. Here are four of those lessons that you need to understand.
Praise Doesn’t Dictate Your Worth
We all seek validation and look at our peers’ reactions to know if we are doing well in our lives or not. While receiving praise is good, don’t take it as a prerequisite for greatness. Art history is full of artists who didn’t receive recognition for their work in their time!
In fact, anything new ever created was criticized. People, in general, prefer the status quo, and if you break it, you will be criticized at first. But that doesn’t mean you or your actions aren’t worthy. It is just that they can’t see it yet.
Caravaggio’s “St. Matthew and the Angel”
Caravaggio artworks have always been a subject of dispute. In 1602, he painted this unparalleled masterpiece. However, in his days the painting was rejected and received condemnation as he portrayed St. Matthew as a peasant with a dirty foot. Depicting a common man in works related to god was not acceptable back then.
Keep the Curiosity Alive
“Every child is an artist. The problem is to remain an artist once they grow up”
– Pablo Picasso
Children are curious by nature. But as we grow up, we bury the curiosity and start seeing the world how we are told to see it. This is how we lose our creativity. When you stop wondering or asking questions, you stop doing anything out of the ordinary.
The most renowned artists are those who dared to think differently, who were curious enough to go beyond the norm of their time. These artists have taught us time and again that creativity is outside the box.
Want to keep your curiosity alive? Be observant of people and things. Ask questions that don’t have straightforward answers like ‘what is that kid thinking now?’. Allow the smallest things to amaze you, and don’t be afraid to let your imaginations run wild.
Always Turn Up
Do you have the habit of shying away from things, especially if you are not good at them? Have you stopped doing something because someone said you are bad at it? Or because you didn’t feel appreciated enough? It is understandable if you have. But you might want to change your attitude if you ever want to improve and become great one day.
You might not see it initially, just like Paul Gauguin, Alfred Sisley, and Paul Cezanne didn’t. But these artists never failed to show up. Despite all the criticism that was thrown against them and their works, they always turned up and were original. If they had not, the world would have been deprived of their masterpieces.
The artist we know today as the founder of French Impressionism was not always appreciated for his works. In fact, his works were called ugly, unfinished, and even formless. As a result, he lived in poverty for a very long time. Monet had a unique style of painting landscapes. His strokes were more liberal, which was not accepted by critiques of his time. Only in his forties, his paintings started selling, and today they are studied in art colleges. So, always turn up and be yourself.
Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
Nothing great was ever built in an instant. We might lose sight of this in this world of instant gratification. We get answers to our questions in a second, we order things that we want online without moving a leg, and we want videos to play without buffering. Patience is a lost art in today’s fast-paced result-driven world.
We tend to not pursue things that don’t produce results immediately. All we see are overnight success stories and never the time and effort that goes behind it. However, looking back at art history will teach us that masterpieces weren’t made in hours. The artists we admire today took several years to finish their pieces.
“Mona Lisa” By Leonardo
Who doesn’t know about this masterpiece? Even if you are totally unaware of the world of art, you would have heard of this painting and seen it. According to Giorgio Vasari (Leonardo’s biographer), it took Leonardo four long years to complete Mona Lisa. But Leonardo himself believed that art is never complete, it is only abandoned. That is how we have to see our lives as a process, not a means to an end.
It is not just the art that is awe-inspiring, it is also the story and the lessons behind it. Every piece carries with it an artist’s thoughts and life experiences. The more we learn art history and the more we observe art, the better we understand its underlying meaning and values.