If asked to provide a critique of someone’s work, how to proceed? The following is a version of a pretty standard format for a formal critique.
Photo credit: Ray Ophoff
0. Set the parameters. Before the session, set the purpose and boundaries.
- Ask the artist why they asked for a critique, and what they hope to get out of it. This will give me, the critic, some direction.
- Remind the artist that different viewers may find different meaning in the work. Ultimately, they have to feel if something is authentic or not.
1. Describe what I see. This is a way to start looking at the work.
- type of artwork
- subject, objects
- colors, shapes, lines, textures
- first impression - what jumps out at me
- predominant mood or visual effect
2. Analyze the artwork. Describe how the technical elements are utilized to create the overall impression.
- lines, shapes, forms, direction
- how does each element contribute to the mood, meaning, and aesthetic sensation?
3. Interpret the artwork. Apply my own suppostion to the artist’s intended purpose.
- What do I think the artist is trying to say?
- Expand on the feeling conveyed, what it means to me and why.
- Explain what I think is the artist’s purpose and how/why the choices of elements/materials/colors/etc contribute to that.
- Identify any symbolism and how that contributes to the intended purpose.
4. Evaluate the artwork. Draw conclusions and reach judgements about the work.
- State what I think the work’s value/purpose is (for example: to evoke nostalgia, encite joy, ...) and why I feel this way.
- Describe the work’s relevance to the art community and beyond
- Explain where I think the work is strong and where it falls short.
Thanks to Dem Apples for this version.