Pacing the hallowed, white aisles of contemporary museums and galleries can be an alienating experience for the art world novice. Ornate Renaissance canvasses and heavy Classical marble statues stand side-by-side with frenetic contemporary mixed media sculpture.
Aron Kuehnemann knows this. Kuehnemann tackles the insular nature of visual art and the oft-elusive understanding of its actors and objects in ART: BECOME CONFIDENT FAST. He’s honed this understanding through running the Art Circuit, a subscription-based service with the aim of bringing fine art into the homes of customers. Of course, that’s in addition to being an aspiring art writer and scholar. Clearly he has some investment in this audience of hopeful art academics.
ART attempts to tackle an exhaustive list of subject matter, one that spans all of Western (and some non-Western) artistic movements and practices. Even the neophyte among art viewers knows this realm is rife with jargon, allusion, paradox, and few direct answers. Kuehnemann embraces this reality while pulling back the veil on basic art queries in intelligent but approachable language. ART addresses the big issues. What is art? Does curation constitute practice? What is the role of the artist? How can we make sense of subjective creations?
ART does this all with a digestible structure, taking the reader through basic modes of aesthetic reasoning, historical context, and philosophical inquiry with a great many helpful charts and accompanying graphics.
One problematic note is ART’s inclusion of artists and work. Its text contains the essential details and basic acknowledgement of non-Western, non-white and non-cis male work but little more. To be fair, Kuehnemann makes allowance for this bias and has written many passages of reflection on art world inequities. Still, ART centers the discussion where it often sits, mostly among well-known European male masters.
Kuehnemann also is clearly is a student of the classic Western tradition, very concerned with parsing out questions of beauty, ones that fall on deaf ears of many contemporary critics and theorists. While much of Western art centers around the figure, ART’s discussion of bodily perfection, complete with female figure proportions, is a bit vexing and superficial for those looking for deeper understanding.
ART sketches a valuable and solid framework for discerning the nebulous intricacies of visual art and its makers. Though this study may not be exhaustive, Kuehnemann blends thorough research, thoughtful questions, well-drawn historical anecdotes and skillful aesthetic methodology, making for a constructive art world guide.
~Nicki Yowell for IndieReader