This paper questions the notion that contemporary art is beyond the grasp of the general public and considers what the public art museum can do to facilitate greater participation in the experience of contemporary art. The issue as to whether the experience of contemporary art can be made more accessible without resort to ‘dumbing down’ of either the artwork or the process of interpretation is explored. It is argued that the adherence to formalist aesthetics limits the capacity for viewers to engage with contemporary art and that more discursive approaches to looking at art are required. To this end, rather than give viewers’ explanations of artwork provided by expert interpreters, the paper presents viewer engagement strategies that have been developed from a detailed analysis of the behaviours of expert interpreters in their discursive engagement with art. The analysis includes case studies in which these innovative strategies have been enacted in a public art museum setting.
|Keywords:||Contemporary Art, Interpreting Art, Public Programs|
Arts Consultant, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia
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