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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

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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

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From 1–3 June 2018, M+ presents M+ Live Art: Audience as Performer, the inaugural edition of a new exhibition series showcasing live art, also known as performance art. The first exhibition will focus on the theme of audience as performer, and will feature works by five performance artists: two new commissioned pieces by Hong Kong artists wen yau and Isaac Chong Wai, and works by Indonesian artist Tisna Sanjaya, Chinese artist Duan Yingmei, and Taiwanese artist River Lin. The series came out of the 2015 exhibition Mobile M+: Live Art , which featured many of the performances reproduced in photos on this post: by Eiko Otake, Patty Chang, Ming Wong, and Haegue Yang.

Interested in this series but unsure about what performance art is? Below, to contextualise this exhibition, we give a brief introduction to performance art and its long and rich histories in Hong Kong and 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.