Stage 3: Classifying
Classifying viewers adopt the analytical and critical stance of the art historian. They want to identify the work as to place, school, style, time and provenance. They decode the work using their library of facts and figures which they are ready and eager to expand. This viewer believes that properly categorized, the work of art's meaning and message can be explained and rationalized.
Studying the conventions and canons of art history, the viewer wants to know all that can be known about the artist's life and times. Her interests range from when and where an artist lived to how the work is viewed in the panoply of artists.
- I guess how much this resembles primitive art in a sense because the figures are flat and representational, and yet they're nudes which were sort of an 18th century, 19th century preoccupation and yet [it] foreshadows modern art. (Picasso, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon)
The viewer searches the surface of the canvas for clues, using his library of facts, which he is eager to expand. His chain of information becomes increasingly complex and multi-layered.
- "It seems to me that this is one of a number of Picassos that really is very indicative of, of two of his styles that are blending, this sort of monumental style of female drawing and the later Cubist style which you see entering into it." (Picasso, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon)