Culture

How to talk about art

Baffled by Bacon? Confused by Calder? Here’s how to navigate any art gallery with success

Picture the scene. You’ve invited the girl of your dreams to the new exhibition the whole of London has been talking about. You need to impress with your art knowledge and your well informed, open mind. But here’s the rub: you only just know your Pollock from your Picasso and, quite frankly, you’re quaking in your Derbys at the very thought of it. Luckily, there’s no need to panic – here are The Jackal’s three quick tips for a picture-perfect date…

Do your research first

Well, obviously. But this time round, go beyond the artist-in-question’s Wikipedia page (admittedly it’s a good place to start), read the reviews, and borrow what people more knowledgeable than you are saying about the exhibition in question. And don’t be too proud to credit them. If anything, referencing different arguments will probably make you sound more clued up – and it means you’ll (hopefully) avoid the dreaded spectre of mansplaining a subject you don’t really understand.

Know your terminology

Chiaroscuro. Afrofuturism. Juxtaposition. Lots of art words feel good in the mouth, and are great to throw around while in a gallery. Spatter your conversation with them, but of course, if you don’t know what they mean, button up. No one likes an art fraud, and in this situation, you’ll end up looking a bit of a cad.

When in doubt, react

When all’s said and done, art is all about emotion (also a good point to make while in situ. You can thank us later.) Don’t be afraid to be a tad dramatic – an engaged reaction will show just how sentient and sensitive you really are. Let the art move you. Find the pieces that you like. Point out what you don’t like. Just don’t say a five-year-old could have painted that. Even if it’s true…