small_0084.jpgArt criticism

Art critics want to know what the meaning of artworks are when they look at them . Critics can help viewers learn about artworks by describing them and pointing out relevant things to look for. They judge the value of artworks and suggest why they are important. Art critics often write about art in newspapers or magazines. Their views can influence the way we look at and think about artworks. Art criticism is the process and the result of discussing and carefully evaluating art. It involves the description, analysis and interpretation of art. It does not always include a stated judgment of worth or value. This lesson is designed to help students improve their art criticism abilities, and further their art education experience.

Art criticism

You have probably asked questions like an art critic, and you have probably looked at artworks around you and have compared them to other objects or art works that you are familiar with. Your views may have affected the way that your classmates or others think and vice versa. This process of analyzing and communicating feelings about artwork is called a critique.

What is a critique?

A critique can be a written or verbal discussion that is used to review a work of art. They can be used to analyze, describe, and interpret works of art and comment on the pieces good and bad qualities. Critiques help students hone their persuasive writing, investigation, and justification skills.

The steps of Art criticism are:

1. Description
2. Analysis
3. Interpretation
4. Judgment

Description: Describe the work as if the person you are talking to can’t see the picture

What is the written description on the label or in the program about the work?
Who is the artist and what is the name of the artwork?
What year and where was the work produced?
Describe the elements of art that are seen in the work (i.e., line movement, light, space).
Describe the subject. What is artwork about? Are there recognizable things?

Analysis: Describe how the work is structured overall.

How the work is constructed or planned (i.e. movements, lines)?
Identify some of the similarities throughout the work (i.e., repetition of lines, two songs in each act).
Identify some of the points of importance in the work.
If the work has subjects or characters, what are the relationships between or among them?

Interpretation: What does the work makes you think or feel when you look at it.

Describe the qualities you find in the work.
Does the work remind you of other things you have experienced?
How does the work relate to other ideas or events in the world and/or in your other studies?

Judgment: Give your opinion on the work's achievement or failure.

What parts of the work make you feel it is a success or failure?
What criteria can you list to help others judge this work?
Compare it with similar works that you think are good or bad.
How unique is the work? Why do you feel this work is or isn’t unique?

The Task

In this assignment, eighth grade students will research one artists of their choice. They will fill out a form with specific information on those artists. They will choose one piece of art from the artist and critique it. Their critique will be in the form of a PowerPoint presentation.

The Process
1. First you will choose two of the following artist and read about them
Franz Kline Frank Stella Willem de Kooning Helen Frankenthaler
Wassily Kandinsky Jackson Pollock Jasper Johns

2. Choose one piece of their art work and critique it. Use the questions on the Critique worksheet to conduct your critique about the two pieces of art work.

3. After completing the worksheet choose one of the works that you critiqued and convert the answers that you gave into a power point presentation.

4. Before you begin your presentation, complete the tutorial on PowerPoint. This tutorial will help you to add your own personal touch to you critique. If you want to add sound, motion, or just a slide this site will help you get there.

5. After completing the tutorial begin creating your PowerPoint. Use the critique worksheet to create your slides. Referring to the required elements page develop your assignment.

Your PowerPoint presentation will grade using the following rubric. Make sure that you are referring to it as you create your presentation.


When you have completed your presentation you will need to print out a copy of your PowerPoint and bring it to class for the critique. You will be able to share what you have learned with your classmates and use it as a reference as you present your findings.

Credits & References

Franz Kline
Frank Stella
Willem de Kooning
Helen Frankenthaler
Wassily Kandinsky
Jackson Pollock
Jasper Johns

Bridget Riley