The most important thing to do when writing a critical analysis on a piece of art or design is to learn how to ask the right questions in order to write an informed response. The information you include should always be well researched and accurate, but remember that the best part about writing a critique is that your opinion can never be wrong! An artwork can mean different things to different people, and the same painting can evoke different responses in different viewers…
steps in order to write a successful critical analysis:
Describe what you can see;
; portrait, landscape, still life, animals, people, event, place?
; who was the work created by?
; does the title tell you what it is? What it relates to?
; when was it created?
; realistic, stylized, abstract, idealized, nonrepresentational?
Medium / Materials
; what is it made of, and how are these materials used? What tools have been used?
; how large is the work of art? How does the scale of a piece affect the spectator?
Analyse the organization of the work;
the physical things that the artist manipulates and organises in the work (line, shape, colour, texture, tone, form)
how the artist organises the elements (harmony, contrast, dominance, focus, balance, rhythm, unity)
Space / perspective;
the viewpoint the artist has used (front, side, aerial, western / eastern, naïve?
how is the paint (or other materials) applied?
proportional, balanced, symmetrical/ asymmetrical, repetitious?
Based on what you have learned and observed so far, what do you think the artist is trying to say? Look for symbols, signs, clues, metaphors, connections, allusions…
What feelings does the viewer experience when looking at the work?
How does the artwork relate to you and your society?
Make sense of the artwork! Evaluate it in terms of;
Time and place
Its influences and references (social, political, cultural)
Its relation to other works by the same artist / other artists.
How you feel about the work; Do you like it? Is it a successful / aesthetically pleasing piece? Why / why not?
Always justify your opinion!
Preparatory drawing for Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh