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Defining Art Criticism
· Art criticism is responding to, interpreting meaning, and making critical judgments about specific
works of art.
· Art critics help viewers perceive, interpret, and judge artworks.
· Critics tend to focus more on modern and contemporary art from cultures close to their own.
· Art historians tend to study works made in cultures that are more distant in time and space.
· When initially introduced to art criticism, many people associate negative connotations with the
word “criticism.”
A professional art critic may be
· a newspaper reporter assigned to the art beat,
· a scholar writing for professional journals or texts, or
· an artist writing about other artists.
Journalistic criticism –
· Written for the general public, includes reviews of art exhibitions in galleries and museums.
· (Suggestions that journalistic criticism deals with art mainly to the extent that it is newsworthy.)
Scholarly art criticism
· Written for a more specialized art audience and appears in art journals.
· Scholar-critics may be college and university professors or museum curators, often with particular
knowledge about a style, period, medium, or artist.
-Four levels of formal analysis, which you can use to explain a work of art:

  1. Description = pure description of the object without value judgments, analysis,
    or interpretation.
    · It answers the question, “What do you see?”
    · The various elements that constitute a description include:
    a. Form of art whether architecture, sculpture, painting or one of the minor arts
    b. Medium of work whether clay, stone, steel, paint, etc., and technique (tools used)
    c. Size and scale of work (relationship to person and/or frame and/or context)
    d. Elements or general shapes (architectural structural system) within the
    composition, including building of post-lintel construction or painting with
    several figures lined up in a row; identification of objects
    e. Description of axis whether vertical, diagonal, horizontal, etc.
    f. Description of line, including contour as soft, planar, jagged, etc.
    g. Description of how line describes shape and space (volume); distinguish between
    lines of objects and lines of composition, e.g., thick, thin, variable, irregular,
    intermittent, indistinct, etc.
    h. Relationships between shapes, e.g., large and small, overlapping, etc.
    i. Description of color and color scheme = palette
    j. Texture of surface or other comments about execution of work
    k. Context of object: original location and date
  2. Analysis = determining what the features suggest and deciding why the artist used such features to
    convey specific ideas.
    · It answers the question, “How did the artist do it?”
    · The various elements that constitute analysis include:
    a. Determination of subject matter through naming iconographic elements, e.g.,
    historical event, allegory, mythology, etc.
    b. Selection of most distinctive features or characteristics whether line, shape, color,
    texture, etc.
    c. Analysis of the principles of design or composition, e.g., stable, repetitious,
    rhythmic, unified, symmetrical, harmonious, geometric, varied, chaotic, horizontal
    or vertically oriented, etc.
    d. Discussion of how elements or structural system contribute to appearance of
    image or function
    e. Analysis of use of light and role of color, e.g., contrasty, shadowy, illogical, warm,
    cool, symbolic, etc.
    f. Treatment of space and landscape, both real and illusionary (including use of
    perspective), e.g., compact, deep, shallow, naturalistic, random
    g. Portrayal of movement and how it is achieved
    h. Effect of particular medium(s) used
    i. Your perceptions of balance, proportion and scale (relationships of each part of
    the composition to the whole and to each other part) and your emotional
    j. Reaction to object or monument
  3. Interpretation = establishing the broader context for this type of art.
    · It answers the question, “Why did the artist create it and what does it mean
    · The various elements that constitute interpretation include:
    a. Main idea, overall meaning of the work.
    b. Interpretive Statement: Can I express what I think the artwork is about in one
    c. Evidence: What evidence inside or outside the artwork supports my
  4. Judgment = Judging a piece of work means giving it rank in relation to other works and of course
    considering a very important aspect of the visual arts; its originality.
    · Is it a good artwork?
    · Criteria: What criteria do I think are most appropriate for judging the artwork?
    · Evidence: What evidence inside or outside the artwork relates to each criterion?
    · Judgment: Based on the criteria and evidence, what is my judgment about the quality of
    the artwork?

Barrett’s Principles of Interpretation

  1. Artworks have “aboutness” and demand interpretation.
  2. Interpretations are persuasive arguments.
  3. Some interpretations are better than others.
  4. Good interpretations of art tell more about the artwork than they tell about the critic.
  5. Feelings are guides to interpretations.
  6. There can be different, competing, and contradictory interpretations of the same artwork.
  7. Interpretations are often based on a worldview.
  8. Interpretations are not so much absolutely right, but more or less reasonable, convincing, enlightening,
    and informative.
  9. Interpretations can be judged by coherence, correspondence, and inclusiveness.
  10. An artwork is not necessarily about what the artist wanted it to be about.
  11. A critic ought not to be the spokesperson for the artist.
  12. Interpretations ought to present the work in its best rather than its weakest light.
  13. The objects of interpretation are artworks, not artists.
  14. All art is in part about the world in which it emerged.
  15. All art is in part about other art.
  16. No single interpretation is exhaustive of the meaning of an artwork.
  17. The meanings of an artwork may be different from its significance to the viewer. Interpretation is
    ultimately a communal endeavor, and the community is ultimately self- corrective.
  18. Good interpretations invite us to see for ourselves and to continue on our own.
    Barrett, Terry. (1994) Criticizing Art: Understanding the Contemporary. Mountain View, California:
    Mayfield Publishing Company.

Sample Solution

Control and the Freedom of Speech in the United States GuidesorSubmit my paper for examination The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States ensures each American resident the ability to speak freely, which implies an option to uninhibitedly communicate one's contemplations and thoughts. The right to speak freely is a fundamental American worth—one of the columns on which American culture was fabricated. Nonetheless, the option to communicate one's contemplations without limitation can be questionable; communicating disdain, for instance, is additionally permitted. The principle issue here is to ensure others' wellbeing and ensure an individual communicating contempt would not go farther than communicating their situation without submitting unlawful acts. Restriction is intended to control such debates; then again, oversight can be contrasted with a noxious gas: it can betray the aggressor if the breeze changes (ACLU). opportunity The principal recorded instance of oversight in the United States happened in 1734-1735, when a New York-based paper printer John Peter Zenger, who was blamed for defaming the legislative head of New York (Zenger distributed a rebellious defamation scrutinizing the specialists) and was arrested. Zenger was guarded in court by Andrew Hamilton, who broadcasted in his well known discourse "Truth can't be Libel." This legal dispute was notable regarding engaging the opportunity of press by the Constitution, despite the fact that there were various endeavors to constrain it, for example, John Adams' Alien and Sedition Acts embraced in 1798, or the Sedition Act of 1917 (Censorship in America). Today, the U.S. media ends up in an irresolute circumstance. It is protected from uncovering their sources, as it is secured by the First Amendment, and Obama's organization even offered a government protecting law for writers. Also, advanced media sources and the Internet are progressively hard to control, screen, and blue pencil. Then again, media proprietorship, joined with money related issues, conventional establishments attempting to remain above water and forestall the presence of undesired data and political partisanship, just as the administration's endeavor to uncover informants, contrarily influence the right to speak freely (Index on Censorship). With respect to the nature of substance being distributed on the web and in printed media, restriction is generally applied to materials that match such criteria as foulness, incitements, sex entertainment, strictly or socially touchy issues, calls for viciousness, and certain other risky subjects, for example, racial separation. Simultaneously, it appears oversight isn't restricted distinctly by these fields. Copyright assembly and observation present perhaps the greatest risk for a free appropriation of data over the Internet. With respect to reconnaissance by and large, Google Transparency reports affirm the United States comes out ahead of the pack on the planet for the quantities of solicitations for clients' very own information; the quantity of court orders for content evacuation is additionally among the most elevated on the planet (after Brazil). Taking into account that media organizations in the United States will in general consent to administrative solicitations with respect to clients' very own information, Americans keep an eye on self-control their electronic correspondences to stay away from conceivable authoritative issues (Index on Censorship). The circumstance with the ability to speak freely in the United States is disputable. In spite of the fact that it is ensured by the First Amendment as an option to unreservedly communicate one's contemplations and thoughts, there are points that are being checked and controlled, for example, sex entertainment, vulgarity, strictly and socially delicate issues, calls for savagery, and a few others. American writers are typically secured by state laws, which promise them their capacity to work. Simultaneously, the American government is known to demand media transmission organizations for clients' very own information, which results into Americans self-blue penciling their electronic interchanges. Copyright enactment is additionally viewed as a danger to the free circulation of data in media. References "US: Free Expression Constrained by Cultural and Political Factors." Index on Censorship. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2014. . "Oversight." American Civil Liberties Union. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2014. . "History of Censorship in The U.S.A." Censorship in America. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2014. .

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