Art Essays

Writing guide
Posted on February 1, 2008

When you are writing an art essay, you observe closely different art products such as paintings, sculptures, dramas, and symphonies in order to understand them, respond in your essay, and relate individual texts to each other and to your objects under discussion. Art itself is a very complicated term. To be sure that the subject of your art essay is an artwork, consider these 9 criteria of artistic product:

  • There should be an artist (or more than one)
  • There should be the process during which an artist shows his craftsmanship, talent, genius
  • Before the process has started there should be inspiration. After the process started – devotion with heart, head, and soul
  • There should be a basic reality known to the world or not known, outward or inward, realistic or fatalistic, of which the final product forms a true copy of this basis reality (or immediate reflection)
  • The final product, which is generally perceived as original, unique or new and therefore attractive and compelling
  • The final product, which stands the passing of the time and taste
  • The final product, which appears to the most sincere personal feelings of observer
  • The final product, which enriches the observer with new personal feelings and thoughts
  • The final product, which ultimately appeals to the philosophical nature of the observer as a human being

In art essay assignments teachers will require you to become an intelligent observer and art-critic. In order to succeed in writing good essay you should know the art elements, principles of design, and present you thoughts logically and in a coherent way. Ask yourself the following questions when you are writing your essay and do your best to answer them.

  • Which criteria of artistic product might be applicable to this painting? Why is this art, for what reason?
  • Where does this work fit into the history of art? Does it remind me of any ‘ others I have seen, and in what way? Can I make any connection between this piece and others?
  • What do I know about the artist? Is there anything about his or her background that would influence my reaction to this work?
  • Does this work fall into any particular theme in the history of art? If so, how does it echo or contradict other works done in the same theme?
  • When and where was this work made? What else was going on in the world at the same time? What are the characteristics of the culture from which it emerges, and how does the work reflect those characteristics?
  • What is the form of this work? What is the work made of, and how is it organized?
  • What is the content of this work? What do I know about its iconography? Is there a recognizable subject, and, if so, how is that subject treated? Are there symbols, and can I decode them?
  • What are the depth devices used by the painter? Is depth the only device in order to create the illusion of reality?
  • What lines can you see? What may be the effect of these lines?
  • What kind of linear techniques were used?
  • What about light and value?
  • What about positive shapes and negative shapes? What elements?
  • Does this work seem unified, and is there enough variety to sustain interest? How has the artist balanced the composition? What is the focal point or points, and how did the artist create them? What roles do proportion and scale play, and how are they handled? Do I sense a particular kind of rhythm?
  • Are the materials of this work important to its type of expression and its overall effect? Does this work seem well crafted? If so (or if not), does it matter?
  • What iconography aspects are in the painting?
  • What might have been the purpose if this painting if there is any?
  • What feelings, memories, or associations does this work evoke in me? Does it make me feel happy, angry, sad, frightened, disgusted, uplifted, inspired, depressed? Can I imagine the artist felt the same way? Do I feel any sense of kinship with the artist?
  • Do I like it? Could I live with this art?

When you will answer all these eighteen questions thoughtfully and carefully you will receive great academic paper, which will surely deserve a good grade.

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