objectives: students will understand how to describe, analyze, interpret and evaluate artwork.
what is a critique?
A critique is a detailed analysis and assessment of something. It is important for artists to have their work critiqued, as it offers constructive criticism and allows the artist to improve and grow. We will be conducting critiques regularly in Digital Photography, both written and verbal.
How do I critique artwork?
Easy! Critiquing artwork breaks down into 4 simple parts:
step 1: describe- what do you see?
Tell what you see (the visual facts). Use the following questions to help guide your response. Answer one or two of the following:
- What is the title of the photograph?
- list the literal objects in the photo (trees, people, animals, mountains, rivers, etc.)
- What do you notice first when you look at the work?
- What kinds of colors do you see?
- What time of day/night is it? How can you tell?
step 2: analyze- how is it arranged?
Mentally separate the parts or elements, thinking in terms of textures, shapes/forms, light/dark or bright/dull colors, types of lines, and sensory qualities. In this step consider the most significant art principles that were used in the artwork. Describe how the artist used them to organize the elements. Choose one or two of the following questions to help you with analysis:
- Direction of attention: Where does your eye go? What do you see first in the photo? Is it the right thing? Do you have to hunt for the subject or does it stand out? Is your eye drawn to objects in the background, rather than the subject, or do you look to the edge of the frame, expecting to find something that isn't there?
- Spatial positioning and composition: Does the composition work? Does anything look squeezed up against the side of the frame? Are there big open spaces around the edges that could be cropped out? Is there a clear subject that occupies the majority of the frame, or is the subject unclear or small and surrounded by irrelevant material?
- Exposure: Is any area overexposed or underexposed? If so, can you say why you think that happened? Are there details both in the highlights and in the shadows? or are there large "blown-out" highlight areas or "blocked-up" shadow areas? Is the over all exposure very light or dark, did the photographer make a good choice?
- Focus: is the main subject in focus? Is it a sharp focus, or a "soft" focus? Is the focus appropriate for the situation? Is anything in focus? Is it the subject or something else? Is the depth of field appropriate? Is the subject contained within the depth of field or are parts of the subject fuzzy? Are there distracting elements in the background that are in focus, which would have been blurred out by a wider aperture?
- Depth of Field: Is the DOF shallow or deep? Does the DOF work with this shot, or should more or less of the photo be in focus?
- Color: Was the photographer's choice to use or not use color sound? If they used color, does the color contribute to the image, or would it have been more effective in black and white? If it is black and white, does that help to focus on the essentials of the image, or are we missing something important?
- Cropping/Framing: Is there wasted empty space in the photo? Should the crop have been tighter? Is it cropped so tightly that important parts of the photo have been cut off?
- Critique the Composition: Centered vs Rule of Thirds. Is the main subject in the center of the frame? Is it on a third? Somewhere else? Does the chosen composition work, or would you have done something differently?
- Dark vs. Light areas: Are there too many bright areas? Too many dark areas?
step 3: interpret- what does it mean?
An interpretation seeks to explain the meaning of the work based on what you have learned so far about the artwork. What do you think the artist was trying to say?
- What is the artist's title in this work? What do you think it means?
- What does it mean to you?
- How does this relate to you and your life/ your personal experiences?
- What feelings do you have when looking at this photograph?
- Do you think there are things in the photo that represent other things- symbols?
- Why do you think the artist chose to create this artwork in this way?
step 4: evaluate- is it significant?
After careful observation, analysis, and interpretation of an artwork, you are ready to make your own judgement. This is your personal evaluation based on the understandings of the work. Here are questions you might consider:
- Why do you think that this work has intrinsic value or worth? What is the value that you find in the work? ( For example: it is a beautiful photograph, it conveys an important social message, affects the way I see the world, makes insightful connections, etc.)
- Do you think that the work has a benefit for others? Do you find that the work communicates an idea, feeling or principle that would have value for others?
- What kind of an effect do you think the work could have for others?