Art Appreciation: A Student Guide on How to Analyze, View and Critique a Work of Art

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Steps for analyzing, critiquing and writing about a work of art.

Learning to appreciate and understand art will enhance your life. It will bring another dimension to understanding culture, art movements, society and history. You will recognize trends and visual commentary that may give you insight into the political, social, religious and cultural paradigms of the artist’s world in which he lived or lives. Art is communication, decoration, commentary and visual argument. You may or may not like a certain work or you may not value it but to understand it may assist you in making those judgments. Understanding the creative process is also a good step to exploring careers in creative and design fields.

Who What When and Where

Determine the bare facts about the art that you are viewing. Who did it, what is the name of the artist? When and where did the artist live?

Methods and Material

What is it made of and how was it accomplished? Is it carved wood, welded steel, cast bronze, chiseled stone? Is it made of multiple materials that are glued, nailed and screwed together? Is it a painting? Is it on canvas, paper, fabric, wood or some other material?

Be sure to check the label because sometimes the material is not what it appears to be. Deborah Butterfield, for example, is a well known sculptor of horses. Her assemblages look like the horses are made from driftwood and sticks but they are actually cast bronze.


Margie Miklas
Posted on Aug 18, 2011
Judith Barton
Posted on Jun 12, 2011
Lindsey Lewandowski
Posted on Jun 12, 2011
Roberta Baxter
Posted on Jun 11, 2011