How to look at and evaluate a work of art:
I. Describe What You See: What are the elements of the image?
- Start simple.
- What are the building blocks that make up the image?
- Take your time and absorb the experience of the work.
II. Analyze What You See: How do the various elements work together?
- Speculate about why the artist made certain choices.
- What are the areas of emphasis?
- In what tradition is the artist working?
- Is there an overall plan? What is the overall effect of the individual elements?
III. Interpret: What is the significance of what you see?
- Examine and explain the cause of your response to the work.
- Use adjectives and analogies to describe the sensory experience of the work.
- Think of a theme that could explain the response prompted by the work.
- The meaning of a work of art should be tied to elements previously analyzed.
- Be imaginative, let your mind roam for possibilities beyond the obvious.
IV. Judge: Give thoughtful and fair judgment.
- Start by defining the criteria/standards used in evaluating this particular work.
- Do your normal criteria adequately match the style of the work before you?
- Has the artist told the truth in the best way possible according to their worldview?
- Have all the artist’s choices worked together to create a cohesive whole?