The Gentleman's Guide

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Art Galleries

Do you know nothing at all about art? Great! Why's that so great? Because it gives you the perfect reason to visit a gallery. A gentleman should always be willing to expand his experience and be open to new things. Here's how:

  • Find a gallery.
  • Choose an exhibit to visit.
  • Consider the pictures as you walk around.
  • Don't annoy others, but do consider talking to them.

The first thing to do is to find a gallery. Most cities have a civic art gallery, which is a good place to start since it means you can do some shopping on the same trip. Don't go looking for the smallest, obscurest gallery you can find just yet - stick to the big ones with a range of different exhibitions.

This is where you may find one of the benefits of visiting a gallery - some of them are free. For example, my nearest major city is Leeds, and the Leeds City Art Gallery has some outstanding works that are open to anyone who's interested.

Plan on spending an hour or so in the gallery. If you don't get round everything that's fine - you can always go back another time. Do your research in advance and decide which exhibitions you want to see, or pick one from the list when you get there.

Don't worry if you know nothing about the art. You're there to learn. Walk around slowly and look at the pictures. Try looking at them from different angles, from close up, or from across the room. Decide which ones you like and which you don't like and try to figure out why. Think about which you'd like in your home if money were no object. Take your time walking around, don't rush, and don't be afraid to explore (though, obviously, not in areas that say 'Staff Only').

It's poor etiquette to be using your mobile phone or doing anything else which might distract the other patrons of the gallery, so make sure you've got it switched off or on vibrate mode. Also, DON'T TOUCH THE ARTWORK!

If you find yourself stood next to someone while admiring a picture then don't be afraid to talk about it. You don't need to know anything other than how it makes you feel, and you may even learn something you didn't know. Incidentally, galleries are good places to meet ladies. Don't try to bluff that you know all about art, just be honest and she'll respect that you want to learn more.

Addendum: From January 25th until March 12th 2006 Leeds City Art gallery is hosting The Triumph of Painting. This selection of works from the exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery is a showcase of how contemporary artists express themselves through painting. It's rare for British galleries outside London to feature truly contemporary art; most 'modern' art is actually 50 years old or more. Since Leeds is going to be the only place outside London to show any of these paintings I highly recommend you visit if at all possible. Further information can be found on The Leeds City Art Gallery website and The Saatchi Gallery website. Of course, if you're closer to London then visit The Saatchi Gallery to see the exhibition instead.

Get in touch: email me at [email protected]


Found a picture that you'd love to have in your own home? Most galleries have a gift shop where you can buy prints of some of their more popular works, so why not have a look around. Alternatively, make a note of the artist and title and search on the internet when you get home.