Tuesday, May 01, 2012

POLL: How long do you spend looking at a painting you like?

How long do you spend looking at a painting you like? is the topic for The Making A Mark Poll for May 2012.

Looking at art: studying Gustave Courbet's "L'Atelier du Peintre(1855)
("The Studio of the Painter")
in the Musee d'Orsay 
 photo: Katherine Tyrrell (2009) - all rights reserved
I spend a lot of time visiting exhibitions and looking at paintings.  I've worked out a way of being able to see what I want to see:
  • quick tour of the exhibition - to see what's there and what catches my eye.  
  • second tour - this time paying close attention to work which won prizes and work which catches my eye
  • third quick tour at the end - just to make sure I didn't miss anything!
If I'm going through a very large art gallery or museum, then I slow right down and look at the art I want to see in a much more considered way, if I'm only passing by once.

How long do people spend looking at art these days?  Less than five seconds according to a Daily Mail experiment (see We know what we like, and it's not modern art! How gallery visitors only viewed work by Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin for less than 5 seconds).  This measured the time people looked at different paintings and concluded that contemporary art held less appeal for people visiting Tate Britain.
Damien Hirst Room: by damien hirst
Daily Mail
There again - How long does it take to look at a painting? asks James Elkins, Art critic and historian, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
An elderly woman told she came to see one of the Art Institute's Rembrandt paintings -- a curious picture of a young woman, leaning on the bottom half of a Dutch door -- three or four times a week during her lunch hour. How long had she done that? I asked. She said, "I don't know. Decades."
How about you?  More particularly, if we ignore all the art that doesn't take your fancy - how long do you generally spend looking at art you like?

The options in this month's Making A Mark Opinion Poll are:
  • Less than 15 seconds
  • Less than a minute
  • 1-2 minutes
  • 2-5 minutes
  • 5-10 minutes
  • Periodic visits
  • Frequent repeat visits
You can find the poll just below the flame icon in the right hand column. It will finish at the end of the month and the poll results should be posted the same day.

See more Making A Mark Polls summarised on The Making A Mark Poll - Resources for Artists


  1. I chose "periodic visits" because I live in such a rural area, but I'd like to have had two choices. I usually spend 2 - 10 minutes looking at paintings that intrigue me - and - I re-visit them if and when possible. I do the same thing online, revisiting certain websites and artists for another look.

    So I do both: I look for an extended time and I revisit.

    1. I was going to say exactly what Patrice said!

  2. i look at paintings i like for 2-10mins aswell and if the gallery was close and i really liked the painting, I would revisit. Also if the postcard of it is available, I would buy that too to hang around my room for inspiration:)

  3. I can literally spend hours? LOL! I love looking at art I like. Real paintings rather than prints, though I have had to purchase a few prints that I love only if I have seen what the actual original painting looks like. ;)

  4. Depends on the painting/drawing! The worst? Scarcely a blink. The best? Well, when I was lucky enough to visit the Met in NY, I was told "take a photo and go" after about 2 hours in front of Sargent's "Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau)"! And don't talk about Diego Velázquez's "Las Meninas" - fantastic - and Museo del Prado was glad to see the back of me! But - best of all - I have spent countless repeat visits in London, looking at 'The Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist' and each time might look (in absolute lost amazement) for an hour or so!


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