Prejudices in Viewing Art

It is impossible to view art without prejudices. In fact, is impossible to live, breath, or think without them either. Everything we have experienced in our lives has shaped us and is shaping us into the person we are or are becoming. Each person has his or her own set of experiences that sculpt them and mold them a certain way and it is ridiculous to assume otherwise. When viewing art it is great to have prejudices! Its what really connects you to a particular piece of art or what really turns you off. Either way, art is about an emotional connection. And without prejudices we would be looking at art blankly not being able to form an emotional attachment that would lead us unable to enjoy art.
Richardson’s view on prejudices while viewing art is in complete contrast to mine. He claims, “the first thing to be done in order to become a good Connoisseur one’s self, is to avoid prejudices, and false reasoning,” (Richardson 17). “Neither must our own passions, or interest be allow’d to give the least bias to our judgments when we are on a rational enquiry, where all these things are entirely heterogeneous” (Richardson 17-18). Richardson views our prejudices and passions as a hindrance on the ability to interpret art. I can definitely see his point and I agree with him about prejudice hindering our ability to thoroughly enjoy and connect with every single particular piece of art we encounter, but at the same time without our passionate connection to art it hinders us from ever being able to full appreciate/love/connect with a piece. And that selective passion to me is more important than having an all-encompassing understanding of art.
A movie I absolutely love is Blue Valentine. This is the type of movie that will rip your heart out of your chest, leave you hysterically crying even after the movie is over, and really make you contemplate what is important in your relationships. I think I am so effected by this movie is because of it’s content and its structural style. The beginning and the end of a couple’s relationship are played parallel to each other, both climaxing at the same time. It is heartbreaking to see how much love, hope, and sweetness exists in the beginning and what an ugly, vindictive, malicious mess it disintegrates into by the end. My response to this movie is completely based off of relationships I have had previously and prejudices I have about marriage from seeing other peoples. I don’t think that this movie would mean anything to me without my prejudices so I doubt Richardson would be in favor of how I view this movie and why it means so much to me. I think he would appreciate it for its structural creativity but I highly doubt that he would be as emotionally moved if he could not relate it to his own life.
A movie that I absolutely hated was Upstream Color. I tried so hard to appreciate this movie because of the numerous awards and recognitions it received by movie critiques much more experienced than myself. Again I think my lack of appreciation was completely content based. I felt that it was ambiguous, not relatable, and pointless. The awards it won were for sound design. Now this is where I think Richardson’s anti-prejudice views of art may have come in handy for me. My rejection of the movie because I didn’t like the plot completely interfered with my ability to appreciate its sound design. Where I failed to appreciate I think Richardson would have succeeded. However I don’t think it is a bad thing that this movie did not speak to my prejudices. Sound design is just not my thing which is totally ok! Just because I personally didn’t like this movie doesn’t mean that it’s not a great piece of art, it just means that it didn’t evoke a deep emotional connection, and that deep emotional connection for me is what is important when watching movies.

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One thought on “Prejudices in Viewing Art

  1. jlcheath,

    I think you are better at “avoiding prejudices” than you give yourself credit for! Though you did not enjoy the movie Upstream Color, you were able to interpret it, appreciate its sound design, and you admittedly tried to find the “good” in it. In my own opinion, I don’t think Richardson would deem you a “bad connoisseur.” This is just my opinion though. Your argument is well supported, and your post fit the criteria of the assignment.

    Grade, “S.”

    Good work,
    Samantha Q

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