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Spring 2021: Sherrill and Moriarty Library are closed as part of the Lesley University COVID-19 response.  Please visit us online through our library website and via our Ask-A-Librarian service,and see our Remote Services Guide.

Fine Arts

Talking About Art

One of the best ways to get better at talking about your own art is by reading what your contemporaries are saying!  Read blogs, go to exhibits, and browse magazines and journals.

You can also read up on art criticism and visual analysis below, to make sure you have the vocabulary you need!

Basic Elements of Criticism

Edmund Feldman's 4-step structure for criticism is a great way to start!‚Äč

1. Description

  • Identify what can be seen, without your thoughts/feelings about it
    • What is the content of the piece?
    • What materials and techniques were used?
    • What information comes along with the painting? Caption, accompanying text?
    • Is there a time period, specific space, or culture represented?

2. Analysis

  • Identify the relationship between elements
    • What are the design elements (line, color, etc.)
    • Where was your eye drawn?
    • How is this put together physically and compositionally?
    • Is it representative of a specific style?

3. Interpretation

  • What meaning is behind everything?
    • What feelings does it evoke?
    • Why did the artists make the choices he did about materials, composition, subject matter, etc.?
    • What is the artist trying to say?
    • How would someone other than yourself view the artwork?
    • What’s missing or unusual in this image?

4. Judgment

  • Was the work successful?
    • Do you find it has objective, unbiased value?
    • Do you like it?

Elements of Art

Writing about Art

How do we talk about and evaluate painting? We suggest reading through this book.

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