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Re: Art Criticism


From: Marvin Bartel (marvinpb_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed Oct 06 2004 - 09:23:12 PDT

>When you are doing art criticism for art up through the modern
>period, Ed Feldman's approach seems to work. (Description, Analysis,
>Interpretation, Judgment)
>However, after 1968 or so, when art gets more 'contemporary' or
>'postmodern' or whatever, I don't think his approach fits. However,
>I don't have another more criticism plan.
>Does anyone? Beth

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: