1. Description: Consider this the introduction part of your paper where you establish what you will analyze.
a. Name of artist, title of work, medium, date, size, and any particulars that might apply to the location of the art if relevant (for instance, an altarpiece located in a particular church).
b. What kind of work is it—representational, abstract, or nonobjective?
c. What are you looking at, and is there a main focal point?
2. Analysis of the work: This is the core of the paper.
a. Describe the key elements the artist has used to make their work of art, for example, color, line (both implied and actual), shape, texture, space (implied depth, linear and atmospheric perspective, etc.), and mass. Not all these elements will necessarily be found in a work of art so only address those elements that are being emphasized
b. How do these elements effect the principles of design found in the work? Look back to chapter four to refresh your memory on the principles of design. A good example of how to analyze a particular design principle is the way the painting Noli Me Tangere is used to analyze asymmetrical balance (pages 73–75).
c. Does this artwork serve a particular function or purpose like commemoration or ritual?
3. Interpretation of the work: Here, you will use the information from the previous two sections to help you discern the meaning or intention of the art.
a. What do you think the artist is trying to say, and how does the artist convey that message though visual means?
b. Is this work typical of a moment in art history, or does it represent a new direction for the art? You will need to do a little research here to understand what was happening at the time the work was made.
c. What is the context within which the art was made, and how do you think it affected the work? For example, the atrocities of World War I had a big impact on the absurdist art of the Dada movement. Once again, this will take a bit of research to get the backstory on your chosen art piece.
d. Does the title of the work serve a purpose in interpreting the piece?
4. Evaluation: This is your conclusion. Here, you offer your final assessment of the art.
a. Do you think it’s a successful work of art or not, and why?
b. Do you like the work or not and why?
If you can’t find a work of art that interests you in the textbook, look online at art galleries and museums to find a piece. Most art museums have a good portion of their collections online for you to explore. Here are some links to a few great art museums, though there are many out there: