How to View Art
A Conversation with Dr. Ariela Lazar
About the Event
Please join us virtually for a lecture by Dr. Ariela Lazar on her upcoming three-course sequence How to View Art.
How to View Art teaches participants the skills of art observation with the goal that participants become skilled, independent art viewers. In this preview event, Dr. Lazar will present the principles behind this popular program, as well as answer your questions.
Director, Visual Arts Education and Outreach
“My father was an artist,” says Ariela Lazar. “I grew up around artists. I looked at art with them and listened to how they spoke about their artistic choices. Later on, I was very fortunate to have fantastic professors who opened my mind to the fundamental questions surrounding the philosophy of art. What is art? What is a good work of art? Must artwork be beautiful? These sorts of discussions built on and expanded my early direct experiences with art.”
Drawing on this deeply informed capacity to view and appreciate artworks, Lazar started buying art for herself and her family about a decade ago. Numerous friends quickly took notice and began seeking her advice when it came to purchases of their own. The experience led her to set up her own art consultancy, Lazar Art Advisory, but Ariela was soon dissatisfied with bringing arts to her clients alone.
As an academic, Lazar was surrounded by thoroughly educated and very intelligent people who often lacked the basic set of skills required to look at artworks. “Art wasn’t accessible to them,” she explains. “Aesthetically, they were blind. That’s when the idea for the class first started germinating within me. It wasn’t a class on the history of art that I wanted to put together, but rather one in which I would teach a set of skills that could enrich a person’s appreciation of art. Through lessons in color theory, perspective, composition, and technique, I realized I could give students a set of tools with which they could go off and view new pieces of art in a rewarding way on their own.”
Originally imagined as a class for undergrads and grad students at the University of Chicago, Ariela came to see teaching adult professionals through the Graham School as an ideal context in which to share her insights into the process of perceiving and engaging with artworks. The excitement the adult learners bring to class, she notes, along with the breadth of their experience, provide a uniquely rewarding and even surprising experience.
“They come to class for enjoyment,” she says. “It’s a treat they give themselves. And that’s something palpable in the experience of the interactions we have in class. What’s more, all their life experiences go into the discussions. Students who have traveled widely and visited many of the world’s great artistic destinations tell me they now look back on those experiences with fuller appreciation. It is wonderful for me to see their joy in discovering this new domain of life.”