Art criticism is a fundamental facet of the art world, and art review has become a vital part of any artist’s journey. And whether you’re writing your reviews or studying someone else’s, the process gives you a unique insight into the artwork. Therefore, an art review can safely be called an independent form of artistic commentary and evaluation that makes you think about out-of-the-box questions about a particular creative work.
And since this article is about art and creativity, we’ll allow ourselves a slightly longer and more literary introduction. It is also because the art review is at the intersection of literature and journalism. However, hardly anyone would deny that there is also a bit here-psychology and even psychiatry. Remember at least the favorite question of psychiatrists: “What is depicted in this picture?” in the Rorschach test.
And what the text says, according to Umberto Eco, is an individual forest. Thus, any art review mirrors the critique’s inner world. That’s not a typo: we meant exactly the critique, from whose work you learn about their life and experience, interests and outlook, mind and knowledge, as well as desires, fantasies, and thoughts. Reviewers give books, paintings, and sculptures new motifs, interpretations, and meanings.
Thus, we can assume that each person is a unique mirror. This mirror may not be perfect in some places, but it should never cease to reflect. And you, as a reviewer, should do it as accurately as possible. In this challenging endeavor, this article will help you with a guide to art criticism, valuable tips on improving your critical opinion, composing an exhaustive art review, and making it meaningful, engaging, and effective.
The Basics of Art Criticism
The basics of art criticism are rooted in an understanding of the fundamentals of art and the ability to identify its various elements and principles. These basics include meanings (e.g., light, dark), color, shapes, lines, and texture. Then, to develop an opinion and write a review, you must consider the elements and principles of art, analyze how they have been used, and consider how they create an overall effect.
It is also essential to consider the artistic means, the artist’s intent, and its impact on the viewer. By examining a work’s message, context, and meaning, the critique can tap into the emotional or intellectual response that the work evokes in the viewer and gain insight into the artist’s intentions.
This knowledge and understanding can be used to form and write an opinion. Art criticism looks at the aesthetic properties of a work, its creation, and its potential for impact. However, it must also consider the effect the piece of art can have in a broader cultural and artistic context. Nevertheless, most people assume that the role of art criticism is to make a negative assessment of a piece.
However, the definition of art criticism means informed discussion, which is to gain insight into a work of art and interpret its meaning. Art critiques use a combination of analysis and evaluation of facts to form an opinion based on the strengths and weaknesses of a work of art. Art criticism seeks to improve understanding and appreciation of a specific masterpiece and may take the form of written or oral commentary.
Art has been an influential part of culture throughout history, manifesting in many forms, such as images, objects, music, writing, drama, and dance. Art forms evolve as the characteristics of beauty, expressiveness, effectiveness, and utility are determined by the culture in which it is present.
To make an overview of works of art and to be sure to evaluate art consistently, in the 5th century CE the Chinese scholar Xie He developed the “six laws” of art criticism. This principle allowed for an objective art evaluation, adding subjective interpretations and assessments when critiques shared them.
What is the Point of Art Criticism
Art criticism involves carefully examining and analyzing a work of art using knowledge of history and theory. In this process, the critique can interpret, evaluate, and share a work of art with others. In addition, examining a work of art and its context within a historical and theoretical framework allows for a deeper understanding of the piece, its meaning, and its significance.
For centuries, wealthy patrons who wished to acquire works of art for themselves judged them on whether they liked the art pieces; over time, however, the role of the art critique has changed radically. Art criticism originated in the seventeenth century in French salons. In the modern period, however, it was able to show its full force thanks to Europe’s various social, political, and cultural changes in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
As a result, art historians and academics now use this practice to understand better the purpose and meaning of a work of art. This process involves carefully studying a creative piece and then understanding the facts of art history and theory. Finally, by critically reflecting on the information available, art historians seek to interpret and evaluate a work of art in terms of its significance.
At an exhibition of works of art rejected by the official salon, one critic called Claude Monet’s Impression Sunrise the famous term “Impressionism,” a term that would later become the designation of an entirely new movement. More than a century later, Monet’s Impressionism is now well known in prestigious collections worldwide.
In his assessment of Impression Sunrise, the critic drew on the principles of painting popular at the time that paintings should be realistic representations of their subjects. This view has since waned in the modernist era. Art criticism encourages an ongoing exchange of ideas and opinions, allowing those who have the desire to join the discussion.
Every work of art may be criticized in the light of contemporary postulates, but ultimately no critique interprets a work of art once and for all. And if you want to learn more about all the intricacies of art criticism, go to the Grab My Essay writing service, where you can find an expert to help you with this question. And we move further to a guide on writing thoughtful and engaging art reviews.
10 Steps to Writing a Perfect Art Review
Visiting museums and exhibitions brings great pleasure to lovers of beauty and art critics who come to see new works for analysis and evaluation. Likewise, professional art connoisseur is interested in evaluating their work, on which the further development of their talent depends.
Of course, anyone can express their opinion about the author’s work and say what they like or dislike in the picture. But only some people know how to do excellent reviews because the ability to evaluate someone else’s art and see its main idea without resorting to other people’s opinion is already an art in itself. So let’s take it all in order, one step at a time.
# 1 Define Your Audience
When it comes to art criticism, it’s essential to determine what audience you’re writing for. For example, are you writing a review for yourself to get a creative outlet and better understand your feelings about a work of art, or are you putting it together for publication on a particular website or magazine? So think carefully about which audience you write for, as this can help determine the overall style, vocabulary, and tone.
# 2 Evaluate the Artwork
One of the essential elements of art criticism is evaluating a work of art. When considering a particular piece, deciding whether to take a qualitative or quantitative approach is vital. Qualitative reviews are subjective and look at the work through your artistic experience, feelings evoked while viewing the art, and interests. Quantitative ones are more objective and seek to evaluate the artist’s skill, use of materials, and general technical aspects.
# 3 Weigh the Pros and Cons
Whether you take a qualitative or quantitative approach to art criticism, weighing the pros and cons of the work you discuss is essential. Consider what aspects of the artwork make it appealing and unique. Also, think about what parts of the artwork let it down, are unsuccessful, and could be improved.
# 4 Analyze the Creator’s Personality
When evaluating an artist’s personality, you should consider their style, interests, and what message they try to convey. Also, analyze the mediums they used, forms, perspectives, and their impact on art in general. For example, did they have a dominant color palette or a specific color scheme? How did they approach composition and form?
# 5 Understand the Artwork’s Context
Understanding the context of a work of art is critical in art history. First, consider the artist’s goals, the meaning of the work, its relationship to the broader artistic community, and its cultural identity. Next, how does the work fit into the artist’s portfolio, narrative, and career trajectory? Finally, try to relate the work to its general influence on painting and the historical period to which it belongs.
# 6 Use Online Translation Services
You may wonder why we mentioned online translation services in this article. Still, they help write artwork reviews because they allow you to dive into artwork more profoundly and write the essay in a comfortable language. Moreover, it is crucial to understand the artwork’s cultural context better. It can also help make the review accessible to readers from different countries who may not be familiar with the artist’s native language or the cultural context of their work.
# 7 Write Purposefully and Effectively
The style of words you use in your art history article is significant. Use accessible yet intelligible language to explain the artwork and the artist’s purpose. Follow the basic grammar and punctuation principles, and be accurate and engaging in using words and phrases.
Remember that the primary purpose of any art review should be to draw attention to the work, artist, or medium of art in a creative and inspiring way. Therefore, when writing a review, use creative language to “paint a picture” of the artwork and the artist’s story. Use metaphors, allusions, similarities, and exciting phrases to help the reader better understand and appreciate the creator’s work.
# 8 Follow the Review’s Composition
The need to write a review arises when a work of art begins to act as a subject of interpretation, and the author sets forth their understanding and experience of that subject. A review is a text about a text or a secondary text resulting from the author presenting their interpretation of the primary text (work of art) to the reader.
If we talk about the concept of the primary text and its transmission in reviews, it is worth noting that reviews differ in the degree of depth and development of the logical scheme, namely:
✔️ The analytical review provides an in-depth and comprehensive artwork analysis.
✔️ Review opinion emphasizes the piece’s strengths and provides an assessment based on reflection, comparison, and other intellectual activities.
✔️ Impression review evaluates a work purely emotionally.
In addition, the composition of a review should be logical, which in turn divides it into such subparagraphs:
- Direct: contains in the title the central thesis, which is then argued;
- Inverse: built as a chain of questions and partial answers to them, leading to the final one at the end, namely, the central thesis.
Event composition occurs when the author uses the technique of commented retelling of the reviewed work. And once again (because it is hugely vital), the reviewer must consider the interests of their readers, among whom there are specialists and non-specialists and among the latter who are familiar with the reviewed work and those who are not familiar with it.
If it is about a work that obviously can’t be known to the general audience, it is necessary to present its content in one way or another; otherwise, the review will be incomprehensible to the reader. On the other hand, if the work is well known to the audience, such treatment is not required, and the reviewer can immediately begin to interpret the primary text (artwork).
# 9 Enhance Your Argument
Art criticism is an excellent form of art commentary and discussion based on creating an argument that should be reinforced throughout the art review. To strengthen your argument, use data and evidence, reference other stylistically similar works of art, compare the artist’s work to other pieces of the same period, and use various sources to support your argument.
Consider also that the necessary element of the argument is the sounding of the primary text in the form of quotations, paraphrases, and descriptions. And since the content is retold, the reader can join the reviewer’s unspoken but understandable opinion. In addition, you can use the views of others (letters from readers, reviews by experts, judgments of figures of literature and art) as arguments in your review.
# 10 Include Your Opinion
As mentioned above, art criticism is based on opinions, so you should ensure your views are visible throughout your work. A critique should include their judgment as well as refer to the views of others. Try to look at the artwork from different angles, provide historical context, and pinpoint elements that can influence opinion or divide your audience.
Stages of the Reviewer’s Professional Activity
Finally, in the concluding paragraph of our article, we will talk about the reviewer’s activity, which consists of two main stages. The first aims to lead the critic to a particular interpretation of the primary text. First, the reviewer creates a mental model of the artwork, which requires a special reading of it, according to the rules of which it is necessary to go from the parts to the whole and from the whole to the single elements.
Then, based on the new material, the hypothesis is refined: adjusted, and detailed to obtain a clear and coherent text picture. This stage of the reviewer’s activity ends with creating a model of the primary text. In other words, it is a theoretical reconstruction of the work to most accurately reproduce the meaning put into it by the author and to give it an additional sense.
The new meaning brought to the reconstruction of the text by the interpreter is a necessary moment of “co-creation” with the author. Thus, the reviewer has their understanding of the artistic concept and the techniques by which the concept is expressed. And finally, the critic can get a general understanding of the actual significance of the specific artwork.
The second stage consists of presenting the result of the previous activity to the reader. Here formal logic comes into play since the text of the review must be consistent in the course of thought and justified in its conclusions and inferences. The result is a logical model of the original work.
Suppose that the primary text is a work of fiction. In this case, there is a kind of translation from the language of art into the language of logic: logical categories, terms, notions, and definitions highlight, fix the main pattern, and thereby complement, deepen, and enrich our ideas about the work compared with its direct reader’s perception.
It is also important to remember that analyzing a work of art is not limited to taking it on different parts, which are then classified by the impartial mind. Otherwise, live artwork will turn into a pile of untold truths. The logic of the reviewer’s creative thinking is akin to that of a writer, director, actor, or painter. They act in close unity with intuition, artistic flair, and emotional assessment of the work.
A good reviewer in the first stage of their activity is a good reader, viewer, and listener who intensely perceives the artwork. Second, the reviewer must be a master of words. And if the artist thinks in images, the reviewer should write in terms that most people will understand.
The Bottom Line
Writing a thoughtful and engaging art review is true art. It requires skill, research, and a deep understanding of the artwork and the creator. The tips in this article are a brief guide to writing an informative and inspiring review that will accurately capture the essence of the artwork and the artist engagingly and creatively.
About the Writer
Lillie Jenkins is a creative copywriter and content writer. She has worked as a copywriter since graduating school, so her writing skills are well-honed. She writes publications in such fields as marketing, business, education, and personal life. More than writing Lillie loves to travel and read professional literature.