An art critique paper involves a comprehensive analysis and assessment of an artwork. Though this looks a bit complicated, the task doesn’t require a lot of time if you have sufficient critique writing skills. It’s an interesting assignment for students of art colleges as well as high schoolers. All you need is to study some art critique examples and learn some effective techniques. It will help make your essay creative and attention-grabbing.
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This article by Custom-writing experts will show you how to write an art review and criticism. It will serve as a guideline for your excellent paper! On the page, you will see all the basic information as well as tips and art critique templates.
🎨 Art Critique: Basic Information
Critical analysis of artwork stimulates and encourages the discussion of art. When you write it, you express your opinion. And when you receive a critique, you learn from others. Every person evaluates art differently. Some pay extra attention to the color scheme and composition. Others appreciate realistic qualities in artworks. And some people look for expressiveness and emotion.
You may think that because of these differences, we can’t objectively critique art. Luckily, there is an accepted way to conduct a formal analysis of an artwork. It’s called Feldman’s method, and it consists of four elements: description, analysis, interpretation, and judgment. More information on these elements can be found in section 3.
👣 How to Write an Art Critique Step by Step
STEP #1. Create an outline before you start writing.
It will help you develop the structure of your essay. In the draft, answer these questions:
|❓||What do you want to write about?|
|❓||What are the key points?|
|❓||What evidence supports your ideas?|
STEP #2. Decide on what info about the artwork you will need.
Then use credible sources to collect all the necessary data.
STEP #3. Provide a clear thesis statement.
A thesis here would be the main idea that would reflect your vision of an artistic piece. Don’t underestimate the importance of a thesis! It will guide you through writing the entire essay. It will also help your readers understand your art criticism better.
STEP #4. Note your first spontaneous reaction to the artwork.
By the end of the process, you may better understand your first impression or even change your mind!
STEP #5. Write the main body using Feldman’s method.
Study the artwork and assess its content, as well as its purpose. Explain which features of the piece of art you spot as the most exciting and less successful. Find more information on the elements of the method below.
STEP #6. Write your conclusions about the artwork.
They should base on all the information you have gathered.
🔬 Feldman’s Method: 4 Art Critique Elements
To write a perfect art critique paper, use the four elements mentioned before: description, analysis, interpretation, and judgment. Understanding these elements will allow you to evaluate any artwork thoroughly and objectively.
When you start writing a critique, remember that a useful analysis provides your view of the object’s strong and weak attributes.
First of all, describe the artwork. At this stage, you don’t have to analyze anything. You just answer the question: what do you see?
Here are some essential questions that you might want to answer in your artwork description:
|❓||What is the title of the work and the name of the artist?|
|❓||What is the artwork made of?|
|❓||What colors, shapes, and textures did the artist use?|
|❓||What techniques were used by the artist?|
|❓||What are the objects you see in the artwork? Does it depict people, plants, or abstract forms?|
E.g., this is an oil painting of a woman in profile. She’s wearing a black dress in contrast with a brown background.
The next step you take when writing an art critique assignment is analysis. To analyze an artwork means to evaluate how its elements correlate with each other. At this stage, you figure out what helps the artwork to convey an idea or a mood.
When writing this section, answer the following questions:
|❓||Do the features of the piece complement each other?|
|❓||Do they create chaos or harmony?|
|❓||Are there any artwork elements, such as balance, proportion, similarity, and contrast? What are the most prominent?|
|❓||Search for historical underpinnings that became a basis for the artwork under analysis. How does it tell the story of its time?|
|❓||Are there any exciting effects, such as movement or soft focus?|
|❓||What is your emotional reaction to the artwork?|
E.g., the tonal range of the painting creates a dark and brooding atmosphere. The sharp shadows create dramatic contrasts.
In this next section, we are looking for the meaning behind the artwork. It may seem like a tough task, especially if the artwork is cryptic or too unusual. But don’t worry: at this stage, the interpretation is entirely up to you!
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Remember: you shouldn’t make your interpretation too arbitrary! Provide evidence and point out what exactly influenced your understanding of the artwork.
Here are the questions that you can answer while interpreting an artwork:
|❓||How does this art object make you feel?|
|❓||What do you think of when you’re looking at the artwork?|
|❓||What did the artist want to tell you as a viewer?|
|❓||What do you think about the title of the work? Does it influence your interpretation?|
E.g., in this painting, the artist wanted to show us the king’s personality and achievements.
And now it’s time to express your opinion! You’re deciding if the work succeeded in creating a mood or telling a story.
It’s essential to be objective when judging an art object. Remember: even if there’s something you don’t like, the work still can be successful! And don’t forget to provide evidence that supports your judgment.
Here are some points that can help you write the fourth part of your review:
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|❓||What do you think: is the work successful or not?|
|❓||Does this art object seem original or not?|
|❓||What do you feel when looking at this piece of artwork?|
|❓||Go back to your first impression. Has anything changed? What did you learn?|
|❓||What have you learned from this work that you might apply to your artwork or your thinking?|
E.g., the artwork successfully conveys the atmosphere of a battle through its composition and color scheme. Learning about its backstory helped me to appreciate the painting even more.
📜 Art Critique Examples
As you can imagine, all kinds of masterpieces are subject to art criticism. For example, you can choose to write about paintings, drawings, sculptures, or even buildings. And, naturally, all these forms of art have their specific features!
These tips will provide you with an art critique template for anything, be it an oil painting or a cathedral.
Painting Critique Examples
Paint is a medium that emphasizes light, colors, and space. You can discuss these and many other points in your critique.
|❓ DISCUSSION POINT||✔️ EXAMPLE|
|What school of painting does it belong to?Is it typical or unusual for this particular school?||E.g., Monet’s Water Lilies is a typical Impressionist painting.|
|Describe the way the artist applies paint. Are there broad paint strokes, small points of color, or just a smooth surface? What effect does it help to achieve?||E.g., Van Gogh’s broad brush strokes help to create a sense of motion.|
|Describe how the light is depicted. Where does the light come from? Is there a strong value contrast? In what way does the shadow function? What, in your opinion, does it evoke?||E.g., strong contrast makes the central figures stand out.|
|Speak about the handling of space in the picture. Does it look flat or three-dimensional? What kind of perspective is used? (e.g., one-point perspective, or bird’s eye view?)||E.g., in this painting, Picasso uses multi-dimensional geometrical shapes.|
Sculpture Critique Examples
Similarly, many specific factors influence the overall impression of a sculpture. Below are some things to pay attention to.
|❓ DISCUSSION POINT||✔️ EXAMPLE|
|Say if the material gives a particular texture to the statue. Is the surface smooth, or is it uneven?||E.g., Rodin’s sculpture has an unusual earthy texture.|
|The surrounding space is just as important as the sculpture itself. Describe the place (in the museum, in a park, in front of a building) where it is situated. What does it add to the sculpture?||E.g., the statue appears to walk along the road.|
|Speak about the color of the sculpture. Is it painted? Does it rely on natural lights and shadows?||E.g., the statue is white. A museum floodlight lights it from above, creating expressive shadows.|
|Describe the composition of the sculpture. What does it look like when you approach it? Did the sculptor provide any instructions on how to position it?||E.g., the statue is enormous and can be viewed from all sides.|
Architecture Critique Examples
You can write art critiques on architecture, too! Just bear in mind the points below.
|❓ DISCUSSION POINT||✔️ EXAMPLE|
|What architectural style does it belong to?||E.g., the cathedral is a typical Gothic building.|
|Was it built with a purpose? Did a specific person request it?||E.g., the Palace of Versailles was requested by Louis IV as a symbol of his monarchy.|
|Did one architect complete the building, or were there any alterations? Why were they made?||E.g., the spire was added to the cathedral much later. It became an integral part of its image.|
What do the exterior and the interior look like? What effect do they produce? Is there a contrast between them?
|E.g., the building has a high ceiling painted like the sky. It also makes the organ music sound louder.|
Photography Critique Examples
Analyzing a photograph is a lot like critiquing a painting. Still, there are some unique features to consider.
|❓ DISCUSSION POINT||✔️ EXAMPLE|
|How does the photographer use focus? Is any part of the image blurry? What effect does it produce?||E.g., the background is out-of-focus, which has a dreamy effect.|
|Is the picture monochrome? If yes, describe its tone, contrast, and shadows. If no, describe the use of color.||E.g., the picture is in black and white, with stark contrasts.|
|If it’s a photo of a face, pay extra attention to the emotion it expresses. If it’s dynamic, discuss the sense of motion.||E.g., the photograph conveys a sense of cheerfulness through the girl’s expression and the use of light.|
Art Critique Topics
- Describe and analyze The Scream by Edvard Munch.
- Interpret the symbolism of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
- Examine the painting techniques used by Van Gogh when creating The Starry Night.
- Analyze and compare Mona Lisa by Leonardo and The Starry Night by Van Gogh.
- Explain why Claude Monet’s Impression, Sunrise differs from a typical impressionist work of art.
- Discuss the historical significance of Kritios Boy sculpture.
- Describe the effect of Kevin Carter’s photography Starving Child and Vulture on you.
- Compare the themes and specifics of Tiziano’s The Assumption of the Virgin and El Greco’s Burial of Count Orgaz.
- Explore the meaning of The Sacred and Profane Love by Titian.
- Analyze the peculiarities of Francisco Goya’s technique in his diptych, The Clothed Maja and The Naked Maja.
- Describe the statue of Lady Sennuwy and its cultural and historical value.
- Critical analysis of Mary Cassatt’s painting Louise Nursing her Baby.
- Explain how using lines and contours, Michael Sweerts adds realism to his painting Head of a Woman.
- The use of composition and color in Pierre Bonnard’s The Breakfast Room.
- Discuss the significance of Olympia by Edouard Manet.
- Examine Domenico Ghirlandaio’s Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni.
- The visual details and the message behind the photograph The Starving Boy in Uganda by Mike Wells.
- Analyze the use of colors in Flaming June by Frederic Leighton.
- Discuss the similar details in the architecture of The Palatine Chapel at Aachen and St. Michael’s Chapel in Hildesheim.
- Explore the unique architecture of Egyptian tombs.
- Analyze the scene depicted by Winslow Homer in A Visit from the Old Mistress.
- Present your impressions of Edward Weston’s photograph Pepper No. 30.
- The interpretation of the photograph Afghanistan Girl by Steve McCurry.
- Critique of the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna as an example of Byzantine mosaic work and architecture.
- Present your interpretation of Pablo Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon.
- Biltmore Manor as a bright example of American architectural style.
- The role of lines and proportions in The Thinker by August Rodin.
- Describe Robert Rauschenberg’s Monogram and your impressions of it.
- Give the critical analysis of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s style using Salon de la Rue Des Moulins as an example.
- Analyze the style and composition of Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.
- The style and thematic elements of Frederic Remington’s Indian Fire God.
- Discuss the details of the painting Toy Pieta by Scott Avett and the feeling it evokes.
- The role of shape and color in the painting The Broken Column by Frida Kahlo.
- Examine the distinguishing characteristics of Charles White’s drawing Hand.
- The hidden meaning of the abstract expressionist’s works Number 1 (Lavender Mist) by Jackson Pollock and Number 61 (Rust and Blue) by Mark Rothko.
- Discuss how Claud Monet uses color to create the desired atmosphere in his painting Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare.
- Analyze the example of Neo-Babylonian art: Panel with Striding Lion.
- Explore the effect of Paul Cézanne’s technique on the viewers in Still Life with Apples and a Pot of Primroses.
- The importance of color in The Sick Heart by Paul Klee.
- Discuss Vincent van Gogh’s manner and choice of color in his painting The Potato Eaters.
- Describe the traits that make The Family of Charles IV by Francisco de Goya a satiric work of art.
✏️ Art Critique FAQ
Any piece of art only becomes famous with the help of opinions. They are expressed by respected specialists. These opinions can be called critiques. One can make a critique in the form of a paper, article, or essay.
To comment on artwork like a pro, consider these steps:
- Identify a genre/style/epoch.
- Note typical features of the genre/style/epoch in the artwork.
- Note what is peculiar, not typical for this style, etc.
- Refer to the broader context, other works of the author.
Think about this type of essay as a reaction to what the author “tells” you through the artwork. Try to focus on a more or less objective review; do not fall into pure criticism or admiration.
The four major steps used in art criticism are:
If you identify various aspects you want to focus on, you may describe each of them in that order.