The Art of Art Appreciation: Paintings Of People Looking At Paintings

Above: Karin Jurick's Modigliani

Ever notice how many artists paint people admiring art? So that we observe the observer? There are quite a few, as you'll soon see. So many that I felt it deserved investigation and I found that despite the commonality of the subject, there are vast and numerous differences.

Besides the obvious inherent irony, it's an unusual way of observing two pieces of art. The one created by the artist, the other being the piece of art within the painting. Sometimes the latter is recognizable or quite well known within the art world (e.g. Jurick's Modigliani) and other times, barely discernible or seemingly random.

This subject is explored in multiple mediums; watercolor, oil, acrylic, pastel and more. In addition to the medium in which the piece was done, the art being viewed within the art also varies from paintings to sculpture and from indoors to outdoors.

Two artists who have mastered this particular subject, but in very different manners, are Karin Jurick, and Richard Whincop, an English artist living in Glasgow. With distinctly different painting styles and almost opposing interpretations of the interaction of art and observer, both have managed to create equally beautiful and captivating works of art.

In the majority of Karin's art patron paintings, the observer is held in rapt attention with the piece of art, often oblivious to that around them. They are rarely engaged in conversation and often alone and undisturbed. Some even seem to be art students, studious or inquisitive. Those that have more than one viewer are often visibly discussing the art. The paintings seem intimate, almost private and the viewer becomes voyeur.

Karin, who truly is one of my personal favorite artists of all time, is incredibly prolific and has such an accomplished body of work, I can only show you a small sample below. In addition to her extensive collection of 'art patron' work, she has many subjects and themes that warrant viewing.

See more of Karin Jurick's art patron paintings here.

Karin Jurick's website, which has links to her galleries of representation here.

Yet in Richard Whincop's work, the art is sometimes so dismissed by the patron, it appears as a backdrop for the figure. While some of his figures are actually contemplative and inquisitive, others appear merely bored. Some are even using their cell phones, whispering to one another or are turned away from the work. Despite the disregard for the artwork within the artwork, Whincop still treats both with the greatest respect. We aren't angry at these people for ignoring the art, but instead, so drawn by his ethereal style, we are intrigued as to why, creating an alternative narrative.

Below are just a few pieces of Richard Whincop's work, links to more follow the paintings.

Richard Whincop's works at the Oisin gallery

Richard Whincop at the Art Exposure online gallery

Richard Whincop's works at the Tracey McNee Fine Art Gallery

In addition to the two accomplished painters shown above, below are just a few of the many talented artists from the Daily Painters Gallery who are painting this particular subject.

Presented in alphabetical order.
Linda Apple:

Gerard Boersma:

Robin Cheers:

Kay Crain:

One of my personal favorites, the prolific Edward B. Gordon:

LC Neill:

Windy Lampson:

Kim Roberti:

Anthony Stewart:

To see the complete works of the talented artists above, go to and you can search by name to find their own websites and galleries.

Above: even the cover of New Yorker magazine had a similar piece.

My apologies to the many talented artists who have undoubtedly painted this subject that I have inadvertently left out. I can only post so many!


Melody said...

Hey Laura...fabulous blog. Glad I found it. This was a great post, being an artist who works in paint and thread and loves "everything"art this is right up my alley. I will be marking it as one of my favourites.

Laura Sweet said...

thanks sooo much. It's comments like yours that make staying up until 3 am writing posts worth it!

Belinda Del Pesco said...

Wow, what a great essay. Thanks so much for introducing us to Richard's work - it's incredible. And the review of Karin's patron paintings - especially as you show them here; complimentary to and different from Richard's - is thought provoking and perfect.

This Painting Life said...

I look at Edward B Gordon's blog every day, he has some great work, I really enjoy Karin's work too, I've been following her work for the past six months or so. Its great to see these artworks on your blog.

billbrauk said...

Thanks so much for highlighting the work of these artists. Karin and Edward have been favorites of mine for a long time. As an artist, there is just something special about the subject. Maybe we all dream of people staring so intently at our own work. Speaking of that I recently painted one in the Denver Art Museum, of a young girl looking at a Degas pastel of some ballet dancers. Thought I would share it with you.

Richard Whincop said...

Hi Laura,
Thanks for your perceptive comments about my work- glad you enjoyed it. I now have my own website, where you can see more of my work( and have started a blog about my work and ideas, beginning with my painting "Loss" which was the first in my series of people looking at art ( As your blog makes clear, t's a fascinating theme with limitless scope for variation.
Best wishes,
P.S. By the way, I'm English, not Irish!

Jenni said...

Wow, stunning blog! I did a google search on "art appreciation" but didn't expect to find such fabulous works on the actual subject of "art appreciation"!

Thank you for sharing this.

Warm regards
South Africa

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