How to Analyze a Painting Power Point

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The Steps of Art Criticism
In each step of art criticism, you are answering a different
question. The three steps of art criticism are:
1. Description: What do I see?
2. Analysis: How is the work organized?
• What colors does the artist use?
• What images do I see?
• How are these images arranged?
• Are any archetypal symbols/figures used?
3. Interpretation: What is the artist trying to
communicate?
Understanding Art Criticism
Art criticism is studying, understanding, and
evaluating works of art.
•What if you don’t
know what an artwork
is communicating?
•How can you figure it
out?
Following the steps of art
criticism can help you
discover lots of clues to
really understand and
appreciate a work of art.
Paris Through the Window by Marc Chagall
Description: What do I see?
• A cat
• A ledge
• A man with 2 faces
• The Eiffel tower
• A window
• A man in the sky
• Buildings
Analysis: How is the work organized?
• What colors does
the artist use?
• What images do I
see?
• How are these
images arranged?
• Are any
archetypal
images/symbols
used?
Analysis: How is the work organized?
• What colors does
the artist use?
• Rainbow
• Yellow
• Blue
• Red
• Green
• Brown
• Grey
• White
Analysis: How is the work organized?
• What images do I
see? (similar to #1)
• A cat
• A ledge
• A man with 2 faces
• The Eiffel tower
• A window
• A man in the sky
• Buildings
Analysis: How is the work organized?
• How are these
images arranged?
• Colors in the
foreground
• Cat in the
foreground looking
out (at ET?)
• Man with two faces
holding a heart in
the foreground
• Eiffel Tower in
background yet the
eye is drawn there
Analysis: How is the work organized?
Are any archetypal images or symbols used?
Archetypal image: Recurrent image
that is universal & expresses human
nature or experiences
• White: innocence, purity,
light (the city and tower)
• Yellow: brightness,
happiness
• Blue: positivity, truth
• Red: passion, love,
violence
• Green: life, rebirth,
growth
• Brown: earth tones,
unity with land
Interpretation: What is the artist trying to
communicate?
Possible Conclusions:
The artist is depicting his
vision of Paris.
The artist uses the element
of color to add visual
interest to the painting and
express how he feels about
the subject (Paris).
The cat represents the artist
looking out at Paris.
This seems like a very happy
time/place for the artist.
The artist is most likely communicating
his positive feelings about Paris.
"Odysseus in the Cave of Polyphemus" by Jacob Jordaens
Directions: On a sheet of notebook paper, please write 1
paragraph (6-8 sentences) comparing or contrasting the
painting to the text. You may choose to write your
paragraph comparing or contrasting:
Step 1: Choose your claim
• Compare claim: The painting “Odysseus in the Cave of Polyphemus”
by Jacob Jordaens is similar to the story of the Cyclops by Homer.
• Contrast claim: The painting “Odysseus in the Cave of Polyphemus”
by Jacob Jordaens is different from the story of the Cyclops by Homer.
Step 2: Choose your evidence
• At least 2 pieces of evidence
o 1 piece of evidence from the painting(color, placement,
archetypal image)
o 1 piece of evidence from the story (plot event, characterization,
adjectives, details)
Step 3: Analyze your evidence to prove your claim
Tilla Durieux as Circe by Franz von Stuck
Circe entertaining Odysseus at a Banquet by Giovanni Paolo Pannini, 1718
Circe Indiviosa by John Williams Watergate

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