Questions In Art Criticism

Art critics help viewers perceive, interpret, and judge artworks. Both art critics and art historians share a strong interest in constructing meaning from artworks. While critics tend to focus more on modern and contemporary art from cultures close to their own, art historians tend to study works made in cultures that are more distant in time and space. In addition to lessons focused on understanding artworks from historical cultures, Chicana and Chicano Space includes modern and contemporary artworks. Lesson one and lesson six focus on critical inquiry.

Questions In Art Criticism*

  1. Description: What do I see? ( feel, hear, smell, taste)?
    1. Subject Matter: Does the artwork depict anything? If so, what?
    2. Medium: What tools, materials, or processes did the art maker use?
    3. Form: What elements did the maker choose and how did the maker organize the elements?


  2. Interpretation: What is the artwork about?
    1. Interpretive Statement: Can I express what I think the artwork is about in one sentence?
    2. Evidence: What evidence inside or outside the artwork supports my interpretation?


  3. Judgment: Is it a good artwork?
    1. Criteria: What criteria do I think are most appropriate for judging the artwork?
    2. Evidence: What evidence inside or outside the artwork relates to each criterion?
    3. Judgment: Based on the criteria and evidence, what is my judgment about the quality of the artwork?

* based roughly on Terry Barrett's Criticizing Art: Understanding the Contemporary, Mountain View, CA:, 1994.

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