Ways to understand art – RABBIT TALES

May 31, 2019

If you want to buy art don’t listen to the art news! Of course what I mean is, don’t pay too close attention to the big art news. Buying art isn’t solely the reserve of big business and big wallets. It’s about finding art you love and understanding why. I was listening to the lunchtime bulletin on the radio last week when news broke that Jeff Koons was now the wealthiest living artist following a record breaking auction. Christie’s published a great post about the artwork HERE

Sitting at my desk here at 2020, I cheered at the announcement. Not just because Jeff Koons is one of my favourite artists of all time (more about that later) or not that I believe a huge price tag puts a true value on art, but I imagined the buyer and the effervescent joy that that giant balloon bunny elicits. The news just made me smile. I know that my reaction may seem incredibly naïve. Fear not, I’m under no illusion that the work was purchased without a mercenary motivation. The incident, though, reminded me that art can be defined by our own reaction to it. We don’t need to question why we love the art we love. 

Let me explain…

Someone with a big desire to buy art recently made Jeff Koons the wealthiest living artist


I’ve had a soft spot for Jeff and his offbeat and humourous approach to his art and its reception for a long time. On a trip to Paris, before I had even considered studying Art History and the job of curator wasn’t even a glint in my eye, I walked around a corner in the Pompidou Centre and was met by a large shining silver balloon bunny. I can still remember the grin that took over my face. The mixture of comedy, irreverence and fine art was such a surprise. Until then, I didn’t know that art could sit in all those categories at once.

Art, as I understood it at the time, was a painting or sculpture in a classical style that at the very least, paid tribute to it. This cartoonish rabbit up-scuttled all those notions in my head while simultaneously appealing to so many facets of my twenty-something self.  

Not too long after my bunny encounter, Koons was the topic of a university lecture and I learned more about him, his challenge to the establishment and unabashed love of kitsch. I came to understand even more why I loved it so much. Encountering Koons’ work taught me that art didn’t have to be complex to be Art and my reaction to it didn’t have to be high-brow for it to be right. My reaction just had to be mine.

Jeff Koons at Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain
ME ENCOUNTERING KOONS ONCE AGAIN IN BILBAO LAST YEAR (That solo figure in the reflection, that’s me!)


Great question! Maybe nothing 🙂 Though I think it’s worth considering this. When you come across a piece of art, don’t let your own reaction to it be outshone by the official definition that surrounds it. For example, when you’re on the motorway and you pass an installation of sculpture, if it’s a bird with wings spread and you think about the freedom flying gives, enjoy that train of thought. Or, if it looks like a random pile of shapes you can’t make head nor tail of, that’s just fine too! Most importantly, if you come across a piece of art that you love don’t worry about what you should think about it. Listen to your instinct about why YOU like it. I promise you it will fit right in and be the best choice to purchase.

If you have any uncertainty about the practicalities of buying, sourcing, pricing OR displaying art, I’m here to help! Click HERE to find out how!

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