Art criticism should be studied, to better your conversation aswell as your understanding of art. Not, to make yourself seem smarter, but to enable yourself to broaden your horizons.
When criticizing artwork there are four basic steps to follow. Description, explain what you see, for example a 40by120 piece using oils of a woman dancing wearing a blue dress. Analysis, still stating the facts you will study and explain how the artist used the elements and principles of design. Interpretation, asking yourself What is happening? and What is the artist trying to say?! Therefore you can guess or assume the meaning of the work.
The final step is judgement, in your own opinion is the work a success or failure. Most people when judging a work use one of three basic theories, imitationalism, formalism, and emotionalism. Some people think art should imitate what is seen in the real world, imitationalism. Others feel art is successful when the elements and principles of design are used properly, formalism. The final theory is one that states the most important part of the work is how the artist communicates his mood to the viewer, emotionalism.
When judging functional objects the first three steps stay the same, but when it comes to the fourth step, how the object works must be considered, for example a toaster may look incredible but doesn’t make toast.
Andrew Wyeth. Christina’s World.
Description: There is a woman laying the fields, wearing a faded pink dress, looking old and made of thin cotton. Her hair is messy and plowing about. She is laying in greenish, brown fields which is cut in a smaller area, with a dirt path that leads too two larger old barn-like buildings and two smaller shed-like buildings. All of these buildings are made of old, weatherworn wood. The sky is a greenish, grey which is very reflective of the grass fields. The painting was made in 1948. Tempera on gesso panel. 81.9 x 121.3 cm.
Analysis: The direction in which the woman is looking aswell as the direction of the grass blades, help to create convergence towards the largest building. The contrast of the woman’s dress and the fields helps catch your eye. The texture of the grass looks unbelievably real, and makes the painting very realistic. The placement of the woman in the foreground also helps bring our attention to her.
Interpretation: I got the impression that the woman really loves, wants to be at that house, it’s her house she loves it. It represents her whole life and does not want to disregard it. A general theme/topic in my eyes is that even the simplest, not as well off places can be home, and a nurturing place to a person.
Judgement: I like the work, it is very reality oriented, and the elements and principles of design are used excellently, however the artists opinions are not very clear. The piece could be observed as sad or happy depending on the viewer, like the glass half full of half-empty. I would not want the piece in my home because the colours are really gloomy and do not give the warm impression.