Oil painting on canvas depicting two ping pong paddles, one red and one blue, and a white ping pong ball lying spread out on a bright green surface. The blue paddle is only barely visible in the bottom left corner of the painting, while the red paddle and white ball lie close together near the top right corner.

How Artists Use Colour to Communicate

The new M+ Collections Beta website lets you explore over 5,000 objects and archival items from the M+ Collections online. As a ‘beta website’, it will grow and evolve over the coming years, as we explore new ways to let you discover and roam through the collections. One of the ways you can already do that on the website is through colour, using the new colour picker feature.

Apart from being a fun way to discover new works, this feature can also help illuminate some of the ways that colour theory can influence our understandings of artworks and objects. Below, we give a quick introduction to colour theory 101, and how artists and makers can use colour in their work, using some examples from the M+ Collections that you can find on the beta website.

The Colour Wheel

Chair standing in a gallery space with white walls, viewed through a hole in in a stone sculpture. The chair has a rounded seat and backrest made out of wood and bamboo woven in a basket technique. The armature and legs are made out of elegantly bent iron rods.

What’s the Difference Between Art and Design?

What exactly is the difference between art and design?

The M+ Collections are separated into three categories: visual art, design and architecture, and moving image. These categorisations can be useful; however, often, the boundaries between them are blurred. How, then, can we define whether something is an ‘artwork’ or a ‘design object’?

First of all, let’s quickly go over some of the traditional differences between art and design:

  • Design is functional, art is not.
  • Design solves a problem, art expresses a feeling or idea.
  • Design objects are mass-produced, artworks are unique.
  • Design is objective, art is subjective.

Think of some of the artworks or design objects you’re familiar with. You’ll probably find that you can slot many of them neatly into these two categories—but you might also find examples that poke holes in this art/design boundary.

A person looks at a painting hanging on a white wall. The painting is of five men standing with their arms around each others’ shoulders underneath a rainbow. They all wear mask-like, laughing faces.

How to Look at Art, Even If You’re Not an Expert

Here’s an open secret: you don’t need to be an expert to appreciate art.

Philip Yenawine is a pioneer of Visual Thinking Strategies or ‘VTS’, a way to look at art that empowers museum visitors to enjoy and make meaning from any artwork they see in front of them. He co-founded the education organisation Watershed Collaborative, and was formerly education director at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He recently spoke as part of M+’s Open Up: Museum Learning in the 21st Century talk series.

Below, Yenawine gives a short guide to VTS for our blog readers. You can use his practical tips at our upcoming show at the M+ Pavilion. Better still, bring your friends—VTS works best as a conversation!

How to Use VTS to Look at an Artwork

A woman dressed in a cream-coloured, shapeless garment holds four long-stemmed white flowers in her hands. She is captured in the middle of blowing a mouthful of white petals from the flowers into the air in front of her. She is standing in a park during sunset.

A Brief Introduction to Performance Art and Its History in Asia

What is performance art?

Performance art, or live art, is, in essence, a form of visual art that uses the body as primary material in a time-based practice.

This means that the artist is using actions of either their own body or other bodies to express a feeling or idea, unfolding in a particular location over a certain period of time. Although performance art can sometimes look very similar to other types of performances, like stage theatre or dance, its main difference is the intention of the artist.