What is a Critique?
A critique is a formal analysis of a work, this work can be a performance, a piece of poetry, work of art or design, etc. An art critique consists of four categories: Describe, Analyze, Interpret and Evaluate.
Critique for Beginners
If you are just starting out in art/design, a great way to approach critique is to work systematically through your senses. Start by considering each sense individually.
Next, make informed decisions about which Element of Art and Principles of Design aided in your experience of the work.
How do you critique art? Critique is useful for artists to get a fresh pair of eyes on their artwork, but it can be confusing how to go about providing an encouraging and simultaneously giving concrete feedback on how to improve. discuss concrete, practical strategies for both art teachers and art students that they can apply in their artistic process. ~Art Prof, YouTube Description
Video Credit: How to CRITIQUE Art for Beginners: RISD Art Professor Explains | The Art Prof, YouTube Channel
Formal Analysis in Action
This video, narrated by Meryl Streep, walks us through The Music Lesson by Johannes Vermeer highlighting how he used compositional elements, color, texture, and more to guide the viewer through the work.
Video Credit: The Music Lesson (Vermeer) | The National Gallery of Art, YouTube Channel
Examining a Work using Formal Analysis
Label the Work
- List the name of the artist, title of the work, media, year created, dimensions (size in appropriate units of measurements).
- Do some research about the artist, time period and location in which the work was created, the style the work is created in, and any other information can uncover about the work.
- What is your immediate reaction to the work? Write your stream of conscienceless, do not think too much.
Describe everything you see in the work.
- What elements are in the work?
- What do you experience, use your five senses.
What was the artist / designer working to visually communicate?
- Discover the work through the lens of the Elements of Art (line, shape, color, value, texture, form, and space) and Principles of Design (pattern, movement, balance, contrast, emphasis, rhythm and unity). Be sure to utilize the correct terms.
- Where does your eye go first, second, third, etc, when looking at the work.
- What does the choice of materials add to the work?
- Refer back to the description, what relationships can you see? Do elements work together in harmony or contrast?
- What mood or feelings does the work bring out in you?
This is where the viewer engages in deeper level thinking and questioning. What is the mood, meaning, symbolism or theme?
- We bring our own history and life experiences to the works we view, but what evidence have you found in the work that leads you to understand what the work is about?
- What theme or subject is the work about?
- Why did the artist create this, what is their view or experience?
Come to conclusions about the work based on all you discovered during your information gathering sessions — describe, analyze, and interpret.
- Think about your first reaction to the work, have your thoughts or feelings about it changed since your first impression? If so, how? What made you change your mind?
- How did your new understanding of this work effect the way you approach your own work?
Supplemental resources to expand your knowledge.