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art crit

art crit

Description: In this paper, you’ll apply your understanding of careful looking, good description, and ways meaning is developed by writing about one work of art of your choosing. To write this paper you’ll get to know this artwork very well by looking at it carefully, reading about the artist and her/his approach to art-making, and thinking carefully about how what you see in the image and what you know about the artist can help you act as a “guide” to the artwork for the person reading your writing.

The paper is relatively short – between 300 and 400 words.

In it you should:

  • Identify the artwork and the artist
  • Provide one image of the artwork
  • Help the reader “see” the image more closely by describing it well and pointing out not only the obvious features through describing the subject matter, medium and form, but also details that those of us who are not as familiar with the piece as you are might miss
  • Help the reader understand the image by offering your ideas of what the work means (your interpretation)

To do this you will:

  • Identify an artist whose work you’d like to focus on.
    • Please choose from:
      • artists you’ve already encountered in the assignments for AR1, AR2 or AR3 
      • artists found at
      • You do not need to choose an artist or artwork you’ve already written about, but you may.

Create a simple outline: (Due Sept 9th)

  • Identify the artist you’ve chosen
  • Give 3 websites you will use to learn more about the artist and her/his work.
  • Post outline to BB > Submit Paper Assignments Here > Paper 1 Outline by Sept 9th
  • Learn more about the artist and his or her artwork by looking at her/his artwork online, reading others’ writing about the artist that you find on blogs, articles, or on the artist’s website
  • Choose one artwork to focus on.
    • Choose a work that is interesting to you and that provides enough visual interest that you will be able to talk about what you see in terms of subject matter and form
    • Choose a work that causes you to think
  • Get to know the artwork well by looking at it carefully, and noticing as much as you can about the work. Make notes in preparation for writing your paper:
    • Make notes about the subject matter (what do you see? Notice details!), medium (what is the work made of? How do the qualities of the material contribute to what the work looks like or is like?), and form (think about emphasis – what stands out and why, patterns, where the artist has placed things in the object/image and what that seems to “do” or mean, areas of dark and light, etc.) 
    • Do the “five words” exercise. Choose 5 words that come to your mind, then, for each word, think about why the work made you think of that.
  • Develop an interpretation of the work – what is the work about?
    • What do you see in the work that helps you say that?
    • What do you know about the artist that helps you say that?
  • Write a short (300-400 word) paper that introduces the artwork and guides the reader in seeing the artwork through your eyes and understanding the artwork in the way you understand it through lively writing.
  • First: Write the paper as best you can. Try to use your “five words” in the writing, but don’t say “The five words I chose were…”. Incorporate them into the writing so that they enhance the language.
  • Next: Go back over your writing, thinking about lively language that is interesting to read. Try using the thesaurus to find interesting alternatives to ‘everyday’ words and insert good, descriptive adjectives to make your descriptions vivid.

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