ART CRITIQUE Albany State University Art Appreciation Spring 2020

Albany State University
Art Appreciation Spring 2020
Art criticism is the process of gathering facts and information from artworks in order to make intelligent
judgments about them. An art critic is a person whose job is to study, understand, and judge works of art. In
carrying out their work, art critics often use a four-step system.
 Describing is making a careful list of all the things you see in the artwork. These include the following:
a. The size of the work, the medium, and the process used. This information is usually located at
the bottom or on the back of the artwork.
b. The subject, object, and details. The subject is the image viewers can easily identify in an
artwork. Ask yourself, “What people and objects do I see?” “What is happening?”
c. The elements of art used in the artwork. Line, Shape, Color, Value, Texture, Form, & Space;
and how they are used.
 In analyzing an artwork, the critic focuses on the work’s composition. Composition is the way the art
principles are used to organize the elements of art (Line, Shape, Color, Value, Texture, Form, & Space).
The critic answers the question, “How are the parts of this work arranged?”
 In interpreting an artwork, the critic focuses on the work’s content. Content is the message, idea, or
feeling expressed by an artwork. How you interpret a work of art will depend on what you have done
and seen in your life. Your interpretation should be based upon the facts and clues you collected during
the first two steps. Your interpretation can express your feelings, but must be backed up by observation.
 In judging an artwork, the art critic tells whether the work succeeds and gives reasons to support that
decision. He or she answers the question “Is this a successful work of art and why?” How the critic
answers this question depends on his or her particular aesthetic view. An aesthetic view is an idea, or
school of thought, on what is important in a work of art. This is not determined by whether or not a
work of art is nice-looking but whether or not it is successful. Some successful works of art may not
look pretty, but they are well organized and interesting. The three most common aesthetic views that
help art critics better understand and explain the meaning of art are described below.
1. Subject: In this aesthetic view, art is considered successful if it has a lifelike subject. The artwork
should look realistic.
2. Composition: In this view, what is most important in an artwork is its composition. The focus is on
an artwork’s use of the elements and principles of art to create a visually pleasing design.
3. Content: In this view, what counts most is the content, or the mood or feeling, an artwork
communicates. A successful artwork is one with a clear message and/or feeling.
Keep in mind that art critics do not limit themselves to only one aesthetic. It is important to understand how a
work of art can be judged by more than one standard. When you critique an artwork, you should consider all
three aesthetic views.
ASU Art Appreciation_Spring 2020_S. Snead 2
Albany State University
Art Appreciation Spring 2020
 State what you are about to talk about or
 Answer the question, “What do you see?”
 What were the elements and principles
used to create the artwork?
 Answer the question, “How did the artist
create it?”
 What global occurrences led to the
creation of the artwork?
 Answer the question, “Why did the artist
create it, and what does it mean?”
 In what way is the piece selected a
“quote” for the movement, location,
culture and time period in which it was
 Answer the question, “Is the artwork
 State what you just said or talked about. 5
Spelling, Grammar, Sentence Structure:
 Paper is written well, and proofread
 No sentence fragments or misplaced
 Written in the third person
 Every 3 major errors = 1 point deduction

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