How to Look: Abstraction

WED, Jan 13, 2016
6:30–8 pm

This three–session course, led by Michael Lobel, Professor of Art History at Purchase College, proceeds from the assumption that one of the best ways to understand and appreciate art is by learning how to look at it closely. If the primary goal is to teach participants how to observe and describe works of art, then we will also treat the museum as an ideal location to develop our powers of attentiveness in a culture of distraction. We will discuss a specific set of skills for approaching artworks, including close visual observation, the vocabulary of description, and an understanding of how the viewer interacts with the work and vice versa. Participants will be prompted to think about art not through complicated theoretical language or overly subjective personal impressions, but rather through the simple tools of observation and description. Ideally, this process will also slow us down and heighten our powers of attunement and attention more generally.

This installment of the course, part of a developing program at the Whitney, will be devoted to looking at abstract art.

Michael Lobel has taught and lectured on art at colleges, universities, and museums for two decades. His writings include three books, numerous exhibition catalog essays, and articles for such publications as Artforum, Art in America, and Art Bulletin.

Registration is now closed. For general inquiries and information related to the course, please email

The Museum building is accessible and has elevator access to all floors. Service animals are welcome. Learn more about access services and amenities.



A 30-second online art project:
American Artist, Looted

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