How to Look at Paintings More Effectively

A guide to understanding composition in art

Christopher P Jones
10 min readFeb 21, 2024

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Arlésiennes (Mistral) (1888) by Paul Gauguin. Oil on jute canvas. 73 × 92 cm. Art Institute of Chicago, U.S. Image source Art Institute of Chicago (open access)

For a long time, I’ve maintained the idea that understanding art is largely about taking the time to look.

Artists lay out many of the “answers” to their works before us, right there in the images, if only we can see them for ourselves.

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