Let’s face it, your art education leaves something to be desired. Sure, you can pick the Mona Lisa out of a lineup, but that’s mostly because you saw about half of the DaVinci Code movie before falling asleep. You certainly can’t consider yourself cultured based on those art history classes you took because you heard they were a breeze, but ultimately slept through. Your idea of abstract art is a finger painting you did when you were in preschool. It’s unfortunate, because there are a good number of instances in your life when knowing a thing or two about how to enjoy a painting can come in handy. Have you ever seen the free wine and cheese spread at a gallery opening? Are you aware of how impressive it is to take your date to a museum? Lucky for you, we’ve become masters at the art of deception (we didn’t buy the books for those art courses either) and have devised an almost fool-proof three-step plan to fake your way into appearing to be a seasoned appreciator of the arts. You can thank us at the next gallery hop.
1. Always claim to be a fan of an artist’s earlier work
When you jump into the world of art, you’re going to have to deal with nosey people testing your knowledge at every turn. It’s a hassle, but your feigned attempts at sounding like you know what you’re talking about are only going to decrease your impressiveness to your significant other or earn stares of disapproval as you scarf down your fourth helping of gouda. Luckily, most of these people know only marginally more than you, which you can use to your advantage. Whenever challenged to prove your expertise in relation to a specific piece, simply claim that you’ve always been more of a fan of the artist’s earlier work. More often than not, you’ll get a nod of respectful approval from an inquisitor who doesn’t dare to expose himself as knowing less than you. And if that’s not the case, you can always just grab the cheese and run.
2. Learn to accept anything as art
Long ago, some lazy artist got tired of painting pictures and in a fit of rage, took all the hangers out of their closest, tangled them into a massive ball and left them laying around in their studio. Some rich person got their hands on this big old hunk of wire, put it on their mantle and suddenly artists everywhere were gluing together their garbage and claiming it represented the oppressive influence of commercialization on modern society. If you go to a modern art museum, chances are you’ll be met with a room full of empty toothpaste tubes meant to be a statement about 21st century dentistry (or something like that.) It doesn’t matter that you’re more than capable of spray painting your toilet seat gold and mounting it on a wall, when an artist does it, it’s considered special. If you’re going to convince anyone you’re an experienced art-lover, you need condition yourself to blindly acknowledge everything as art— yes, even those crumpled balls of tin foil.
3. Be able to fabricate symbolism
Spend enough time around art snobs and you’ll find that most of them care more about what a piece means that what it looks like. They love antagonizing over what certain colors represent or what sort emotions a picture of a fire hydrant is meant to elicit. If you’re going to hang with the big-dogs and simultaneously dazzle that hot date of yours, you need to learn to think on your feet when presented with the question, “What does it mean?” Thankfully, there are almost no wrong answers, as long as you’re clever about it. Stall for time by explaining the sorts of emotions that a particular piece elicits— if you really want to milk this for all it’s worth, describe the unbearable sadness you feel due to how much a particular sculpture of a kneeling gazelle reminds you of your recently deceased grandmother. From there you’ll want to pick some sort of controversial or existential issue and expound on how the work of art comments on it. “I think it symbolizes the artist’s struggle with their mortality,” you might remark about a picture of bacon frying in a pan. “That’s deep, man.” Yeah, it sort of is.