Visual Art Demystified

Have you ever felt lost and confused in an art museum? Does visual art feel like a foreign language to you? Have you been frustrated by art history books or classes in the past? Do you want to view art more intelligently? If so, this course is for you.

Enjoying visual art is a basic impulse - one that can bring joy, improve mental health, and shine light on our shared humanity. However, its specialized terminology and obscure references can make it feel bewildering and inaccessible to many people.

Approach art with confidence and sophistication.

In Art Appreciation for Beginners, you'll acquire the skills to intelligently evaluate art, even if you have no prior knowledge about it . These skills won't make you an expert or give you all the answers, but they will give you points of entry into any image you choose. Along the way, you will learn from illustrated examples, ask questions about what you see, and complete practice activities with sample solutions. Your new knowledge will also make you a more sophisticated consumer of images everywhere you encounter them, from billboards to social media posts.

This is not an art history class. (It's also not a class that will teach you to make art yourself.) Traditional art history courses focus on specific artists and artworks, giving you facts relevant to individual styles and movements. It's fascinating stuff, but its long learning curve doesn't make it the best option for the beginning art viewer. Instead, this course will teach you to find meaning primarily through art's visual components, so you can make sense of artworks even when you don't have the background information to fully analyze them.

What You'll Learn

Active Looking

Practice the single most important skill for any art viewer.

Building Blocks

Understand and analyze the visual components that make up every artwork.

Subject Matter

Discover how artists do (or don't) represent the world, tell stories, and create meaning.


Explore the fascinating process of artistic interpretation.

Hone Your Skills

Practice art appreciation through illustrated examples, activities with sample solutions, and advice for using your skills in the real world.

Lifetime Course Access

About the instructor

I'm Alexandra Kiely, an art historian based in the United States. I love art and wholeheartedly believe in its ability to enrich every person's life.

Check out the art I love best at