Serving Art Educators
and Students Since 1994
Submitted by: Maggie Tucker, Brentwood Middle School, Brentwood Tennessee
Unit: Art Criticism –Theories of Aesthetics
7th Grade Final Exam Template (See student example – Student Essay- Paragraph form ) Art Criticism Links
Final Exam Idea for High School – Marvin Bartel
Art Final: Art Criticism
2. What type of artwork do you consider this painting (what theory of aesthetics)? Why?
What is happening?
Where is it happening?
When is it happening?
a. Time of day?
b. Time of year?
a. Name the type of art movement to which your artist belongs:
How did this influence his/her work?
Did anything happen in his/her life that may have influenced his/her work?
b. Did your artist use rules of perspective drawing? Explain.
5. What is the real meaning behind the painting?
6. Do you think the artist succeeded in what he was trying to accomplish?
How to Read a Painting by Will Hanson
Art Criticism [Archive] - suggestions and activities from North Texas Institute for Educators of the Visual Arts.
ARTiculation - This great site is no longer online but thanks to the Internet Archive, you can still see it.
Viewing Artwork – Art Criticism Hand-out by Ms. Guttormson (needs some revision)
What is Art? What is an Artist? Sweet Brian College – by Chris Witcombe
http://www.arthistory.sbc.edu/artartists/artartists.html [Archive] - See one of his current art history sites.
Eyes on Art – A Learning to Look Curriculum by Tom March
Art Crimes - cautionary tales of art criticism gone to far (Aesthetic issues – valuing art)
From Marvin Bartel:
For students, I use simple language rather Feldman's terms until the they are familiar with the ideas. I start with terms that need no definition. Then in the discussion I begin to use Feldman's terms whenever they are appropriate.
1) (instead of describe) I ask, What is the main thing you see? (if it is conceptual art, substitute notice for see)
2) (instead of analyze) I ask, Why does it get your attention? Sometimes I use a follow up and ask for a second thing noticed.
3) (instead of interpret) I ask, What do you think it means and/or what feelings do you get from it?
4) (instead of analyzing the interpretation) I ask, why do you think it means this and/or feels this way?
5) (instead of judge) I ask, How would you rank it compared to ---? (This is not used with student artwork - only with art world work)
I have students pick from these and write two or more responses before having a discussion. If they are writing and discussing about a peer, I restrict them to making neutral or positive comments - no negative opinions. I skip the ranking. When writing about art world work anything goes.
In the discussion, I ask a student to share one point that she or he wrote. Invite others who wrote a different idea about the same thing. If they miss something that I think is important, I will add a question myself to help them see it.
For sample forms to print for students go to:
For the teacher:
If the course work has included age appropriate critique methods and practice, the final exam day can be used for writing peer critique. Ask students to each display several of their best works from the term. I ask students to draw classmate names from a box to determine which other student artwork to write about. The number of names they each take depends on the time available and the amount of writing expected for each student. They are told in advance that the other student will be allowed to read what they write. I allow the writer to select one work from each student name that they draw from the name box.
This web page shows a sample of a critique form I developed to guide the critique process. I also ask students to fill this out in preparation for oral classroom discussion critiques earlier in the term.
The emphasis is on analysis and interpretation - not judgment and not on ranking or grading the work. The process is not meant to evaluate so much as to learn what makes artwork work, how it works, what it says, how it feels, what it might mean, why it might mean this or feel this way, and what its purpose might be.
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