organic(natural)- geometric (man made)
high - low
hatching - cross hatching
warm - cool
optical (or atmospheric)
actual (tactual) – visual
Golden Section or Mean
normal– exaggerated – idealized
by focal point
Unity or Contrast
by theme and variation
Created by Edmund Burke Feldman
(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
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?”
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”?
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 Method
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
i. Relationship of artwork to life
June McFee's Art Criticism Method to Analyze the Relationship of Art Forms
How is the art form used?
How does the artwork function to support social organizations and enhance cultural values, attitudes, and beliefs?
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?
What does the art form communicate about the nature of the culture in which it was produced?