The first thing you should always consider when talking about art is the culture from which it originates.Not all methods will be relevant to all artworks. Some work better than others. I've provided 4 methods of art criticism that can be used in the classroom, to be considered when writing essays and evaluating artworks.
I've first provided a questions to answer when investigating a culture's art form. (Dr. Patricia L. Stuhr, Ohio State University)
What culture does the art form come from?
What is the geography of the land this culture occupies(ied) and did/does it have an effect on the form produced?
What is the time period in which this art form was produced?
What is the description of the art form according to its physical characteristics?
What was/is the function of the art form in the culture?
What aspect of the cultural aesthetic production is most important? process, product, or symbolic significance?
What is/was the social significance of the art form?
What were/are the aesthetic values of the culture?
Who is/was the artist(s)?
How was/is he/she trained?
What is the artist's social status in the community?
Who did/do they produce their art form for?
Is this art form being produced today?
How is the art form used in the culture today?
- Feldman's Model - Created by Edmund Burke Feldman (1924-) DESCRIPTION (Cognitive and memory questions) Elements and Subject Make a list of the visual qualities of the work that are obvious and immediately perceived. Ask students “What do you see in the artwork”? and “What else”? Includes content and subject matter in representational works, includes abstract elements in nonrepresentational piece
ANALYSIS (Convergent questions) Composition and Design Focus on the formal aspects of elements of art, principles of design, and other formal considerations: exaggeration, composition etc. “How does the artist create a center of interest?” How does the use of color impact the painting?”
INTERPRETATION (Divergent questions) Meaning and Content Propose ideas for possible meaning based on evidence. Viewers project their emotions/feelings/intentions onto the work. “What do you think it means”? “What was the artist trying to communicate”? “What clues do you see that support your ideas”?
EVALUATION (Evaluative questions) Skill and Technique Discuss the overall strengths/success/merit of the work. This step is usually used with mature audiences.
- MOMA's Model of Art Criticism - In this model, the viewer creates specific questions to be answered based on the artwork itself within each category. The following are more general and can be tailored to fit the artwork. I - Description: What is it? a. medium, subject b. Describe exactly what you see. c. Is the artwork abstract or representational? d. What is the format? e. What sort of mood does the artwork express?
II. Process: How is meaning made? a. What is your first response? b. Look closely, what kind of conclusions can you draw about how the artwork was created? How does this inform the meaning? c. What can you say about the resulting composition? d. How much can you sense the artist's presence by looking at the work? e. How can describe the format?
III. Interpretation: Content in Context a. What sort of emotions do you feel? b. Why did the artist choose this subject? c. Can a picture without a subject have meaning? d. What is the artist's response to the time that it was made? What are some connections?
- Vincent Lanier's Art Criticism - Provides one system for how we look at (and respond to) a work of art. There is no particular order and one "screen" may be more important than the other. a. Social attitude toward a specific work b. Cultural view of art form c. Perceptual skills (organization, selection, and interpretation of the form) d. Recognition of formal qualities e. Knowledge of specific symbols f. Associations (bringing in viewer's personal experiences) g. Historical identification h. Judgments i. Relationship of artwork to life
- June McFee's Art Criticism Method - Analyzing the Relationship of Art Forms 1. Use How is the art form used?
2. Function How does the artwork function to support social organizations and enhance cultural values, attitudes, and beliefs?
3. Meaning To whom does the artwork speak to? What does it mean to members of the community? What is its universal significance to humankind?
4. Visual Quality How do the visual elements interact to reflect the object's use, function, and meaning within the context that it was created for?
5. Information What does the art form communicate about the nature of the culture in which it was produced?