Aundrea Frahm’s Four Tips to Understanding Contemporary Art

 In MOA Features
Portrait of Aundrea Frahm

September 15, 2015
©Jonathan Hardy Photography 2015

Guest Post by Dallin R. Adams, MOA Marketing Intern

At a recent TEDxBYU event contemporary artist, Aundrea Frahm explained how we can better understand and appreciate contemporary art. You can view the talk here.

Frahm is both a former student and teacher at Brigham Young University. Beyond studying and teaching art, Frahm is a practitioner as well. Her work, We Revolve Ceaseless, is currently on display at the BYU Museum of Art through June 23, 2018.

In explaining contemporary art to her audience. Frahm first drew a comparison between contemporary art and soccer. Initially, the two may seem to have little in common, but to those unfamiliar with either the two have a lot in common.

To those unfamiliar with soccer, stumbling upon it for the first time it may appear only as a bunch of children playing in the dirt, kicking at a ball. One might ask, “What in the world are they doing?”, “How is this a game?”, or “Who let this become a game?”

The same questions are frequently asked about contemporary art. However, with some study and explanation, you may come to realize there is more meaning and depth behind what you’re seeing.

Frahm gives us “four quick tips for getting a more meaningful, memorable, and valuable contemporary art experience.”

Do your homework

With contemporary art, the viewer is required to do some work. The meaning of the piece is not spoon-fed to the observer, but rather, they must seek for the meaning themselves. As Frahm says, much like soccer, contemporary art has specific players (artists), important plays (exhibitions), and knowledgeable coaches (curators). Doing your homework includes taking the time beforehand to research what you will see and place it in a larger context.

Take your time

On average, people spend only three seconds when looking at a piece of art. It’s hard to tell if anything is good by spending such little time with it. Take the time to see what the art is. Perhaps look at it closer up, then further back. Maybe looking from a new angle will provide insights or a better understanding of the piece you’re looking at.

Ask good questions

Instead of saying “I don’t know why the artist made that,” ask yourself, “I wonder why the artist made it that way?” “What could I get from this piece of art?” “What does this mean to me?” As Frahm said in her talk, “Most, if not all contemporary art, there is no meaning or right answer. Only you know what an artwork means to you, and every person’s perception is different.

Acknowledge all artwork

Acknowledging all artwork does not mean you have to like or understand every piece of art you look at. Don’t simply dismiss something because it doesn’t fit your definition of what art should or should not be. Even though a piece of art may not be your favorite, acknowledge that it is art and may have meaning to someone else.


Finally, make sure to visit Aundrea Frahm: We Revolve Ceaseless before it leaves the MOA on June 23rd.



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