Everybody knows Picasso, his name precedes his art. But what exactly are we looking at when we look at a Picasso painting? Are we marveling at how wild his work was? Questioning him for cubism? Wondering about his blue period? Thinking if we could paint some wonky pieces and have it considered art? Nerdwriter breaks down how to understand a Picasso painting (or any art piece, really) by simplifying it into steps.

First, look at it. What’s your first reaction? Second, understand the content of what it is that you’re looking at. What are those shapes supposed to be? Third, figure out the art form Picasso is using. Fourth, look at the historical context, when was the painting completed and what was happening then? And fifth, personal context, what was going on in the artist’s own life when he was making the painting.

Armed with this knowhow on how to understand Picasso, maybe we all can go beyond just “whoa, this looks weird” in the future. Probably not.

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