Criticizing Art Pieces

To understand the quality or success of a visual painting's intention, one should recognize the importance of the style or movement of the piece. All forms of art can be extremely personal to a singular audience. Due to this idiosyncrasy, it would be nearly impossible to determine the best painting ever created. This fact can be observed in almost all forms of media. The quality of a painting cannot be determined by its value or fame.

Criticizing Art Pieces
American Gothic
Therefore, in order to properly critique a painting, a critic must understand the artist's intentions. A good method of organizing this critique is to adhere to the four steps of critiquing a painting or piece of art.

The Four Steps of Critiquing a Painting or Piece


Identify the artist or artists; The name of the painting; The date it was painted; The size of the work; What it was painted with and what it was painted on; The movement the artist followed; Key historical, social, and political events that occurred during the creating of the work.

Collect facts and clues only. Describe every visual as is presence in the piece.


What elements-line, shape, form, space, texture, value, color-dominate the work? How is the work arranged?


Based on the clues collected in the description, what could this painting or sculpture be about? Explain what ideas, moods, emotions, and stories the artwork is trying to communicate.

Also consider the element of purpose—both functional purpose and creative. Determining purpose is important; a structure intended as a home, for example, is not created for the same purpose as a mausoleum.

Judgment: Is this work successful. Why or why not?

Examine the question of success in relation to the intended interacting audience and the architecture's aesthetic value in the environment. If a structure is intended t be a transport path, it may function properly but add no aesthetic value to the environment; one could argue that this piece of architecture is not successful.

A critic must determine what would entertain him/her in particular, and evaluate whether the viewed program met those criteria.

Once the four-step critique process discussed in past lectures has been completed, the critic should address the intention of the program and then add his/her perceived value. Television is a medium or art that must be derived from success of intention.

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