Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564). Rome: Sistine Chapel – The Creation of Adam: Detail of Hands Touching (1508-12). ARTSTOR.
The work of artists and designers can often be thought of in terms of "styles". For example the 'Rococo' style of decoration began in the early to mid-18th century influencing the ornamental arts, mostly in northern Europe. The Rococo style followed the Baroque and preceded the Neo-Classical style.
Rococo designs are usually light and elegant, with naturalistic forms often featuring themes involving splashing water or sprigs of foliage. Clear and bright colors are frequently set against gold decoration.
Commode by Charles Cressent (1730), Waddleston Manor, UK. Wikimedia.
Understanding styles in art and design, can provide significant context, allowing one to look both backwards and forwards in time.
Fully understanding an artist and their body of work, involves knowing what others have said about that artist / designer and the work in question. Critics have existed for a very long time. To understand the history of an item, requires understanding criticism that has been passed regarding a work. But now, one needs to put all that to one side, and begin to re-assemble the whole to make one's own assessment.
Michael Patterson (2008). "The Critic ...There is definitely a place for critics. Of course, every creative artist knows where that place is and would be happy to provide directions on how to get there." ARTSTOR
Part of UNDERSTANDING the work of an artist or designer, is to truly know him/her/them. Having understood, absorbed and processed all there is to know about the artist(s) and their work(s), some re-assembly is now required!
THE INDEFINABLE ... What does the work mean to you? Engage with it. Do you like it? Does it excite YOU? If not, why not? -- Analyze and interpret!
REMEMBER! Criticism and doubt are OK -- but so is wonder and awe.
Jean Carlu (1900-1997). "America's Answer! Production!" 1942. Offset lithograph, war effort poster. ARTSTOR