What do you think is Art… and Why?

So have you ever looked at something I have shown you and thought to yourself ‘WT…??? Keller’s on crack again!’  And then listen to me talk about what I am showing you and explain the work in historical context and in terms of the elements and principals of art?

Well, I want to put you front and center and have you talk about a work of Art.

How to Critique and Write about Art

The following four steps—description, analysis, interpretation and evaluation— are the steps in a formal critique. It is called the Feldman method. It is an established critique method that has been used by students and professionals alike for over 50 years.

Please respond to the following sections in paragraph form, using complete sentences. Use the questions provided as a guide to provide you with information for your paragraphs.


This stage is like taking inventory. You want to come up with a list of everything you see in the work. Stick to the facts. Imagine that you are describing the artwork to someone over the telephone.


Name of artist, title of work, and gallery or location of artwork.

If this is an in-class critique of your own or another student’s work, simply list your own or their name. For example, “This is a critique of my self-portrait” or “This is a critique of Art See’s self-portrait.”


Make a note of your first spontaneous reaction to the artwork. By the end of the process you may understand your first impression better or you may even change you mind. There are no wrong answers.


Try to figure out what the artist has done to achieve certain effects. You should refer to your first impressions and try to explain how the artwork achieves that reaction.

Q. Use the vocabulary you learned in class. For example, if you’re looking at a chain-link graphic, you learned reversals, transparency, complementary or analogous color, etc.

Q.  How are the elements of art (color, shape, line, texture, space, form, value) and the principles of design (balance, contrast, emphasis, movement/rhythm, unity, variety) used in this artwork?

Q. What do you notice about the artist’s choice of materials?

Q. What grabs your attention in the work? Refer to your first impression.

Q. Do you see any relationship to the things you listed during the description stage?


Try to figure out what the artwork is about. Your own perspectives, associations and experiences meet with “the evidence” found in the work of art. All art works are about something. Some art works are about color, their subject matter, and social or cultural issues. Some art works are very accessible — that is, relatively easy for the viewer to understand what the artist was doing. Other works are highly intellectual, and might not be as easy for us to readily know what the artist was thinking about.

Q. What is the theme or subject of the work? What mood or emotions does the artwork communicate?

Q. What is the work about; what so you think it means?

Q. Why do you think that artist created this work?

Q. What do you think the artist’s view of the world is?


This is a culminating and reflecting activity. You need to come to some conclusions about the artwork based on all the information you have gathered and on your interpretations.

Q. Have your thoughts or feelings about the artwork changed since your first impression? If so, how? What made you change your mind?

Q. If not, can you now explain your first reaction to the work?

Q. What have you seen or learned from this work that you might apply to your own art work or your own thinking?

[Taken from this site]

Here is an Excellent Blog post on Critiquing Art