How to Write an Art Critique: Examples & Strategies

An art critique paper involves a comprehensive analysis and assessment of an artwork. Though this looks a bit complicated, the task doesn’t require a lot of time if you have sufficient critique writing skills. It’s an interesting assignment for students of art colleges as well as high schoolers. All you need is to study some art critique examples and learn some effective techniques. It will help make your essay creative and attention-grabbing.

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This article by Custom-writing experts will show you how to write an art review and criticism. It will serve as a guideline for your excellent paper! On the page, you will see all the basic information as well as tips and art critique templates.

  • 🎨 Basic Information
  • 👣 Step-by-Step Guide
  • 🔬 Feldman’s Method
  • Architecture
  • Photography

🔗 References

🎨 art critique: basic information.

Critical analysis of artwork stimulates and encourages the discussion of art. When you write it, you express your opinion. And when you receive a critique, you learn from others. Every person evaluates art differently. Some pay extra attention to the color scheme and composition. Others appreciate realistic qualities in artworks. And some people look for expressiveness and emotion.

Formal analysis of an artwork includes the stages of description, analysis, interpretation, and judgement.

You may think that because of these differences, we can’t objectively critique art. Luckily, there is an accepted way to conduct a formal analysis of an artwork. It’s called Feldman’s method, and it consists of four elements: description, analysis, interpretation , and judgment . More information on these elements can be found in section 3.

👣 How to Write an Art Critique Step by Step

STEP #1. Create an outline before you start writing.

It will help you develop the structure of your essay. In the draft, answer these questions:

STEP #2. Decide on what info about the artwork you will need.

Then use credible sources to collect all the necessary data.

STEP #3. Provide a clear thesis statement .

A thesis here would be the main idea that would reflect your vision of an artistic piece. Don’t underestimate the importance of a thesis! It will guide you through writing the entire essay. It will also help your readers understand your art criticism better.

STEP #4. Note your first spontaneous reaction to the artwork.

By the end of the process, you may better understand your first impression or even change your mind!

STEP #5. Write the main body using Feldman’s method.

Study the artwork and assess its content, as well as its purpose. Explain which features of the piece of art you spot as the most exciting and less successful. Find more information on the elements of the method below.

STEP #6. Write your conclusions about the artwork.

They should base on all the information you have gathered.

🔬 Feldman’s Method: 4 Art Critique Elements

To write a perfect art critique paper, use the four elements mentioned before: description, analysis, interpretation, and judgment. Understanding these elements will allow you to evaluate any artwork thoroughly and objectively.

When you start writing a critique , remember that a useful analysis provides your view of the object’s strong and weak attributes.


First of all, describe the artwork. At this stage, you don’t have to analyze anything. You just answer the question: what do you see?

Here are some essential questions that you might want to answer in your artwork description:

E.g., this is an oil painting of a woman in profile. She’s wearing a black dress in contrast with a brown background.

The next step you take when writing an art critique assignment is analysis. To analyze an artwork means to evaluate how its elements correlate with each other. At this stage, you figure out what helps the artwork to convey an idea or a mood.

When writing this section, answer the following questions:

E.g., the tonal range of the painting creates a dark and brooding atmosphere. The sharp shadows create dramatic contrasts.


In this next section, we are looking for the meaning behind the artwork. It may seem like a tough task, especially if the artwork is cryptic or too unusual. But don’t worry: at this stage, the interpretation is entirely up to you!

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Remember: you shouldn’t make your interpretation too arbitrary! Provide evidence and point out what exactly influenced your understanding of the artwork.

Here are the questions that you can answer while interpreting an artwork:

E.g., in this painting, the artist wanted to show us the king’s personality and achievements.

And now it’s time to express your opinion ! You’re deciding if the work succeeded in creating a mood or telling a story.

It’s essential to be objective when judging an art object. Remember: even if there’s something you don’t like, the work still can be successful! And don’t forget to provide evidence that supports your judgment.

Here are some points that can help you write the fourth part of your review:

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E.g., the artwork successfully conveys the atmosphere of a battle through its composition and color scheme. Learning about its backstory helped me to appreciate the painting even more.

📜 Art Critique Examples

As you can imagine, all kinds of masterpieces are subject to art criticism. For example, you can choose to write about paintings, drawings, sculptures, or even buildings. And, naturally, all these forms of art have their specific features!

These tips will provide you with an art critique template for anything, be it an oil painting or a cathedral.

Painting Critique Examples

Paint is a medium that emphasizes light, colors, and space. You can discuss these and many other points in your critique.

Sculpture Critique Examples

Similarly, many specific factors influence the overall impression of a sculpture. Below are some things to pay attention to.

Architecture Critique Examples

You can write art critiques on architecture, too! Just bear in mind the points below.

Photography Critique Examples

Analyzing a photograph is a lot like critiquing a painting. Still, there are some unique features to consider.

✏️ Art Critique FAQ

Any piece of art only becomes famous with the help of opinions. They are expressed by respected specialists. These opinions can be called critiques. One can make a critique in the form of a paper, article, or essay.

To comment on artwork like a pro, consider these steps :

Think about this type of essay as a reaction to what the author “tells” you through the artwork. Try to focus on a more or less objective review; do not fall into pure criticism or admiration.

The four major steps used in art criticism are:

If you identify various aspects you want to focus on, you may describe each of them in that order.

‘Nice flow of brightness’ is a typical representative of comments generated by the jargon of art critiques I got from a friend painter when I exposed one of my paintings on Facebook. Utter nonsense with no artistic value, just to please me, a beginner in painting.

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How to Write an Art Review Essay

Writing any review essay might be one of the toughest assignments in school or college. And when you first hear about art review essay writing, it might sound like something completely unrelated to your field of study.

However, if you know the importance of art review and critical thinking in education, then you know that a piece of coursework like this can be really important. Further, having a great background in art history, critical thinking, and art criticism is pretty hard to find in a textbook, especially if studying something unrelated.

Nevertheless, this article provides you with the information to get you started writing an art review essay. It is also ideal if you need extra tips to sharpen your skills and become better at writing these types of writing.

Generally, the essay has description, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation segments all rolled into one. However, they are distinct, and knowing how to write them, plus what information to put in each, will set you above the rest.

Parts of an art review essay

Before looking at the tips, here is a quick view of these parts and what each cover.

Description Part

The first part of these reviews is an introduction to the artwork’s general characteristics. This part describes what it’s made from, its size and other distinct features such as size, color, and age, among others.

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In addition, this section gives a brief history of the artist and where they’re from. If you have more specific information about these things, include that as well.

The next step is diving deeper into your feelings about the piece. Specifically, you should discuss your emotional responses as you experienced the artwork.

Describe how you felt, whether excited, happy, sad, confused or irritated. Write down these emotions and how they made themselves known in your body.

In your description, be creative and deeply innovative in your word choice because you want to make readers see the art through your words. For example, you can say, “I felt my jaw drop as I stared at the giant rock formations jutting from the ground like giant teeth.”

Additionally, describe those feelings once the art was out of sight. Did they leave behind any lasting impressions? This section is aimed to draw a reader more into your piece because you want the mental picture created to stick with them for longer.

Also see: When to start a new paragraph in an essay

The description might be challenging to write, but there are tips to help you. One of the best ways to do this is by looking at your emotions before, during, and after viewing the piece of art. This will give you an idea of what emotion or feeling was evoked by whatever made up your experience with this piece of art.

Analysis Section

Now that you’ve fully described the work, it’s time to analyze it. What does this piece mean? How does it relate to other works by the same artist, works by different artists, and historical periods and current events?

To analyze a painting, for example, you could write about how its composition was typical of paintings made during a certain period. You can also analyze how it differs from most paintings made during the same period.

You could also write about how this piece relates to other paintings by renowned artists such as Leonardo da Vinci or those that are similar and discuss why these similarities exist.

Interpretation Section

After analyzing your writing piece, the next step is interpreting it, which entails giving meaning to the artwork in this part of your review. Basically, you aim to decode the art.

Some questions to consider while writing this part include: What is the painting, sculpture, or drawing about? Further, you can answer what message the artist is trying to convey, or does this piece have a purpose?

If so, what feelings do you get from it and does it remind you of something else that has been created before?

For example, if writing a review on a painting with a night theme in a particular country, the artist probably chose to set the scene at night because they wanted readers to see city lights and stars.

Generally, an artwork’s meaning revolves around society and its activities. Therefore, the origin or place where a piece is done significantly influences your interpretation.

Evaluation Section

The evaluation section entails the impact of the piece. In this part, your writing should explain to readers if the piece lives up to its expectations and whether you think it achieved its purpose.

Conclusion Segment

An art review essay’s conclusion is the last part, where you sum up all the previous parts into one. This section also includes your final opinion and suggestions about the artwork.

Tips for Writing an Effective Art Review Essay

Besides knowing the sections of a review art essay, knowing these tips will help you produce a stellar review.

Follow instructions

Following your instructor’s instructions is a critical aspect of art review essay writing. If the assignment asks you to review multiple pieces or an entire collection, you will need to write a few paragraphs on each piece individually before moving on to the next.

However, if asked to review only one piece, ensure you do that so that you do not include other information and go off-topic or become redundant by repeating yourself too many times

Research the historical context in which the piece was made and why it was created at that time. This also helps to give your readers a better understanding of the art. Further, the research should entail the artist, society depicted in the art, and other socio-cultural happenings.

Researching also ensures you have enough information to accurately judge the artist, their work, and the piece’s meaning.

Be objective

Even though reviews have an element of personal opinion, this should not affect your writing. Also, the opinion should come at a later stage of the paper. The first part should be used to paint the picture to a reader before you give your opinion.

These tips will help you be objective.

The golden rule in giving an opinion is to remember your opinion is not always right or wrong, and some people may like what you don’t like. Therefore, try to look at things from different perspectives before giving your opinion on something which may be controversial or debatable

Writing an art review essay is a great opportunity to show your critical thinking skills and creatively express yourself. Artistic works are complex and often open to interpretation, so you must be able to look beyond what’s on the surface level of the work itself and consider its deeper meanings.

And with these tips, you can now go forth and write a perfect art review essay.

Harland Miller talks about his new Phaidon & Artspace edition

Know Your Critics

The 10 Essays That Changed Art Criticism Forever

By Will Fenstermaker

June 14, 2017

The 10 Essays That Changed Art Criticism Forever

There has never been a time when art critics held more power than during the second half of the twentieth century. Following the Second World War, with the relocation of the world’s artistic epicenter from Paris to New York, a different kind of war was waged in the pages of magazines across the country. As part of the larger “culture wars” of the mid-century, art critics began to take on greater influence than they’d ever held before. For a time, two critics in particular—who began as friends, and remained in the same social circles for much of their lives—set the stakes of the debates surrounding the maturation of American art that would continue for decades. The ideas about art outlined by Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg are still debated today, and the extent to which they were debated in the past has shaped entire movements of the arts. Below are ten works of criticism through which one can trace the mainstreaming of Clement Greenberg’s formalist theory, and how its dismantling led us into institutional critique and conceptual art today.

The American Action Painters

Harold Rosenberg

One: Number 31

Harold Rosenberg, a poet who came to art through his involvement with the Artist’s Union and the WPA, was introduced to Jean-Paul Sartre as the “first American existentialist.” Soon, Rosenberg became a contributor to Sartre’s publication in France, for which he first drafted his influential essay. However, when Sartre supported Soviet aggression against Korea, Rosenberg brought his essay to Elaine de Kooning , then the editor of ARTnews , who ran “The American Action Painters” in December, 1952.

RELATED: What Did Harold Rosenberg Do? An Introduction to the Champion of “Action Painting”

Rosenberg’s essay on the emerging school of American Painters omitted particular names—because they’d have been unfamiliar to its original French audience—but it was nonetheless extraordinarily influential for the burgeoning scene of post-WWII American artists. Jackson Pollock claimed to be the influence of “action painting,” despite Rosenberg’s rumored lack of respect for the artist because Pollock wasn’t particularly well-read. Influenced by Marxist theory and French existentialism, Rosenberg conceives of a painting as an “arena,” in which the artist acts upon, wrestles, or otherwise engages with the canvas, in what ultimately amounts to an expressive record of a struggle. “What was to go on the canvas,” Rosenberg wrote, “was not a picture but an event.”

Notable Quote

Weak mysticism, the “Christian Science” side of the new movement, tends … toward easy painting—never so many unearned masterpieces! Works of this sort lack the dialectical tension of a genuine act, associated with risk and will. When a tube of paint is squeezed by the Absolute, the result can only be a Success. The painter need keep himself on hand solely to collect the benefits of an endless series of strokes of luck. His gesture completes itself without arousing either an opposing movement within itself nor the desire in the artist to make the act more fully his own. Satisfied with wonders that remain safely inside the canvas, the artist accepts the permanence of the commonplace and decorates it with his own daily annihilation. The result is an apocalyptic wallpaper.

‘American-Type’ Painting

Clement Greenberg

Frank Stella

Throughout the preceding decade, Clement Greenberg, also a former poet, had established a reputation as a leftist critic through his writings with The Partisan Review —a publication run by the John Reed Club, a New York City-centered organization affiliated with the American Communist Party—and his time as an art critic with The Nation . In 1955, The Partisan Review  published Greenberg’s “‘American-Type’ Painting,” in which the critic defined the now-ubiquitous term “abstract expressionism.”

RELATED: What Did Clement Greenberg Do? A Primer on the Powerful AbEx Theorist’s Key Ideas

In contrast to Rosenberg’s conception of painting as a performative act, Greenberg’s theory, influenced by Clive Bell and T. S. Eliot, was essentially a formal one—in fact, it eventually evolved into what would be called “formalism.” Greenberg argued that the evolution of painting was one of historical determinacy—that ever since the Renaissance, pictures moved toward flatness, and the painted line moved away from representation. Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso were two of the landmarks of this view. Pollock, who exhibited his drip paintings in 1951, freeing the line from figuration, was for Greenberg the pinnacle of American Modernism, the most important artist since Picasso. (Pollock’s paintings exhibited in 1954, with which he returned to semi-representational form, were regarded by Greenberg as a regression. This lead him to adopt Barnett Newman as his new poster-boy, despite the artist’s possessing vastly different ideas on the nature of painting. For one, Greenberg mostly ignored the Biblical titles of Newman’s paintings.)

Greenberg’s formalist theories were immensely influential over the subsequent decades. Artforum in particular grew into a locus for formalist discourse, which had the early effect of providing an aesthetic toolkit divorced from politic. Certain curators of the Museum of Modern Art, particularly William Rubin, Kirk Varnedoe, and to an extent Alfred Barr are credited for steering the museum in an essentially formalist direction. Some painters, such as Frank Stella , Helen Frankenthaler , and Kenneth Noland, had even been accused of illustrating Greenberg’s theories (and those of Michael Fried, a prominent Greenbergian disciple) in attempt to embody the theory, which was restrictive in its failure to account for narrative content, figuration, identity, politics, and more. In addition, Greenberg’s theories proved well-suited for a burgeoning art market, which found connoisseurship an easy sell. (As the writer Mary McCarthy said, “You can’t hang an event on your wall.”) In fact, the dominance of the term “abstract expressionism” over “action painting,” which seemed more applicable to Pollock and Willem de Kooning than any other members of the New York School, is emblematic of the influence of formalist discourse.

The justification for the term, “abstract expressionist,” lies in the fact that most of the painters covered by it took their lead from German, Russian, or Jewish expressionism in breaking away from late Cubist abstract art. But they all started from French painting, for their fundamental sense of style from it, and still maintain some sort of continuity with it. Not least of all, they got from it their most vivid notion of an ambitious, major art, and of the general direction in which it had to go in their time.

Barbara Rose 

Galvanized Iron

Like many critics in the 1950s and 60s, Barbara Rose had clearly staked her allegiance to one camp or the other. She was, firmly, a formalist, and along with Fried and Rosalind Krauss is largely credited with expanding the theory beyond abstract expressionist painting. By 1965, however, Rose recognized a limitation of the theory as outlined by Greenberg—that it was reductionist and only capable of account for a certain style of painting, and not much at all in other mediums.

RELATED:  The Intellectual Origins Of Minimalism

In “ABC Art,” published in Art in America where Rose was a contributing editor, Rose opens up formalism to encompass sculpture, which Greenberg was largely unable to account for. The simple idea that art moves toward flatness and abstraction leads, for Rose, into Minimalism, and “ABC Art” is often considered the first landmark essay on Minimalist art. By linking the Minimalist sculptures of artists like Donald Judd to the Russian supremacist paintings of Kasimir Malevich and readymades of Duchamp, she extends the determinist history that formalism relies on into sculpture and movements beyond abstract expressionism.

I do not agree with critic Michael Fried’s view that Duchamp, at any rate, was a failed Cubist. Rather, the inevitability of a logical evolution toward a reductive art was obvious to them already. For Malevich, the poetic Slav, this realization forced a turning inward toward an inspirational mysticism, whereas for Duchamp, the rational Frenchman, it meant a fatigue so enervating that finally the wish to paint at all was killed. Both the yearnings of Malevich’s Slavic soul and the deductions of Duchamp’s rationalist mind led both men ultimately to reject and exclude from their work many of the most cherished premises of Western art in favor of an art stripped to its bare, irreducible minimum.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Philip Leider

Double Negative

Despite the rhetorical tendency to suggest the social upheaval of the '60s ended with the actual decade, 1970 remained a year of unrest. And Artforum was still the locus of formalist criticism, which was proving increasingly unable to account for art that contributed to larger cultural movements, like Civil Rights, women’s liberation, anti-war protests, and more. (Tellingly, The Partisan Review , which birthed formalism, had by then distanced itself from its communist associations and, as an editorial body, was supportive of American Interventionism in Vietnam. Greenberg was a vocal hawk.) Subtitled “Art and Politics in Nevada, Berkeley, San Francisco, and Utah,” the editor’s note to the September 1970 issue of Artforum , written by Philip Leider, ostensibly recounts a road trip undertaken with Richard Serra and Abbie Hoffman to see Michael Heizer’s Double Negative  in the Nevada desert.

RELATED: A City of Art in the Desert: Behind Michael Heizer’s Monumental Visions for Nevada

However, the essay is also an account of an onsetting disillusion with formalism, which Leider found left him woefully unequipped to process the protests that had erupted surrounding an exhibition of prints by Paul Wunderlich at the Phoenix Gallery in Berkeley. Wunderlich’s depictions of nude women were shown concurrently to an exhibition of drawings sold to raise money for Vietnamese orphans. The juxtaposition of a canonical, patriarchal form of representation and liberal posturing, to which the protestors objected, showcased the limitations of a methodology that placed the aesthetic elements of a picture plane far above the actual world in which it existed. Less than a year later, Leider stepped down as editor-in-chief and Artforum began to lose its emphasis on late Modernism.

I thought the women were probably with me—if they were, I was with them. I thought the women were picketing the show because it was reactionary art. To the women, [Piet] Mondrian must be a great revolutionary artist. Abstract art broke all of those chains thirty years ago! What is a Movement gallery showing dumb stuff like this  for? But if it were just a matter of reactionary art , why would the women picket it? Why not? Women care as much about art as men do—maybe more. The question is, why weren’t the men right there with them?

Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?

Linda Nochlin

Linda Nochlin

While Artforum , in its early history, had established a reputation as a generator for formalist theory, ARTnews had followed a decidedly more Rosenberg-ian course, emphasizing art as a practice for investigating the world. The January 1971 issue of the magazine was dedicated to “Women’s Liberation, Woman Artists, and Art History” and included an iconoclastic essay by Linda Nochlin titled “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”

RELATED: An Introduction to Feminist Art

Nochlin notes that it’s tempting to answer the question “why have there been no great women artists?” by listing examples of those overlooked by critical and institutional organizations (a labor that Nochlin admits has great merit). However, she notes, “by attempting to answer it, they tacitly reinforce its negative implications,” namely that women are intrinsically less capable of achieving artistic merit than men. Instead, Nochlin’s essay functions as a critique of art institutions, beginning with European salons, which were structured in such a way as to deter women from rising to the highest echelons. Nochlin’s essay is considered the beginning of modern feminist art history and a textbook example of institutional critique.

There are no women equivalents for Michelangelo or Rembrandt, Delacroix or Cézanne, Picasso or Matisse, or even in very recent times, for de Kooning or Warhol, any more than there are black American equivalents for the same. If there actually were large numbers of “hidden” great women artists, or if there really should be different standards for women’s art as opposed to men’s—and one can’t have it both ways—then what are feminists fighting for? If women have in fact achieved the same status as men in the arts, then the status quo is fine as it is. But in actuality, as we all know, things as they are and as they have been, in the arts as in a hundred other areas, are stultifying, oppressive, and discouraging to all those, women among them, who did not have the good fortune to be born white, preferably middle class and above all, male. The fault lies not in our stars, our hormones, our menstrual cycles, or our empty internal spaces, but in our institutions and our education.

Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief

Thomas McEvilley

Tribal Modern

One of the many extrapolations of Nochlin’s essay is that contemporary museum institutions continue to reflect the gendered and racist biases of preceding centuries by reinforcing the supremacy of specific master artists. In a 1984 Artforum review, Thomas McEvilley, a classicist new to the world of contemporary art, made the case that the Museum of Modern Art in New York served as an exclusionary temple to certain high-minded Modernists—namely, Picasso, Matisse, and Pollock—who, in fact, took many of their innovations from native cultures.

RELATED: MoMA Curator Laura Hoptman on How to Tell a Good Painting From a “Bogus” Painting

In 1984, MoMA organized a blockbuster exhibition. Curated by William Rubin and Kirk Varnedoe, both of whom were avowed formalists, “‘Primitivism’ in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern” collected works by European painters like Paul Gaugin and Picasso with cultural artifacts from Zaire, arctic communities, and elsewhere. McEvilley takes aim at the “the absolutist view of formalist Modernism” in which MoMA is rooted. He argues that the removal tribal artifacts from their contexts (for example, many were ritual items intended for ceremonies, not display) and placement of them, unattributed, near works by European artists, censors the cultural contributions of non-Western civilizations in deference to an idealized European genius.

The fact that the primitive “looks like” the Modern is interpreted as validating the Modern by showing that its values are universal, while at the same time projecting it—and with it MoMA—into the future as a permanent canon. A counter view is possible: that primitivism on the contrary invalidates Modernism by showing it to be derivative and subject to external causation. At one level this show undertakes precisely to coopt that question by answering it before it has really been asked, and by burying it under a mass of information.

Please Wait By the Coatroom

The Jungle

Not content to let MoMA and the last vestiges of formalism off the hook yet, John Yau wrote in 1988 an essay on Wifredo Lam, a Cuban painter who lived and worked in Paris among Picasso, Matisse, Georges Braque, and others. Noting Lam’s many influences—his Afro-Cuban mother, Chinese father, and Yoruba godmother—Yau laments the placement of Lam’s The Jungle near the coatroom in the Museum of Modern Art, as opposed to within the Modernist galleries several floors above. The painting was accompanied by a brief entry written by former curator William Rubin, who, Yau argues, adopted Greenberg’s theories because they endowed him with “a connoisseur’s lens with which one can scan all art.”

RELATED: From Cuba With Love: Artist Bill Claps on the Island’s DIY Art Scene

Here, as with with McEvilley’s essay, Yau illustrates how formalism, as adapted by museum institutions, became a (perhaps unintentional) method for reinforcing the exclusionary framework that Nochlin argued excluded women and black artists for centuries.

Rubin sees in Lam only what is in his own eyes: colorless or white artists. For Lam to have achieved the status of unique individual, he would have had to successfully adapt to the conditions of imprisonment (the aesthetic standards of a fixed tradition) Rubin and others both construct and watch over. To enter this prison, which takes the alluring form of museums, art history textbooks, galleries, and magazines, an individual must suppress his cultural differences and become a colorless ghost. The bind every hybrid American artist finds themselves in is this: should they try and deal with the constantly changing polymorphous conditions effecting identity, tradition, and reality? Or should they assimilate into the mainstream art world by focusing on approved-of aesthetic issues? Lam’s response to this bind sets an important precedent. Instead of assimilating, Lam infiltrates the syntactical rules of “the exploiters” with his own specific language. He becomes, as he says, “a Trojan horse.”

Black Culture and Postmodernism

Cornel West

Cornel West

The opening up of cultural discourse did not mean that it immediately made room for voices of all dimensions. Cornel West notes as much in his 1989 essay “Black Culture and Postmodernism,” in which he argues that postmodernism, much like Modernism before it, remains primarily ahistorical, which makes it difficult for “oppressed peoples to exercise their opposition to hierarchies of power.” West’s position is that the proliferation of theory and criticism that accompanied the rise of postmodernism provided mechanisms by which black culture could “be conversant with and, to a degree, participants in the debate.” Without their voices, postmodernism would remain yet another exclusionary movements.

RELATED: Kerry James Marshall on Painting Blackness as a Noun Vs. Verb

As the consumption cycle of advanced multinational corporate capitalism was sped up in order to sustain the production of luxury goods, cultural production became more and more mass-commodity production. The stress here is not simply on the new and fashionable but also on the exotic and primitive. Black cultural products have historically served as a major source for European and Euro-American exotic interests—interests that issue from a healthy critique of the mechanistic, puritanical, utilitarian, and productivity aspects of modern life.

Minimalism and the Rhetoric of Power

Anna C. Chave

Tilted Arc

In recent years, formalist analysis has been deployed as a single tool within a more varied approach to art. Its methodology—that of analyzing a picture as an isolated phenomena—remains prevalent, and has its uses. Yet, many of the works and movements that rose to prominence under formalist critics and curators, in no small part because of their institutional acceptance, have since become part of the rearguard rather than the vanguard.

In a 1990 essay for Arts Magazine , Anna Chave analyzes how Minimalist sculpture possesses a “domineering, sometimes brutal rhetoric” that was aligned with “both the American military in Vietnam, and the police at home in the streets and on university campuses across the country.” In particular, Chave is concerned with the way Minimalist sculptures define themselves through a process of negation. Of particular relevance to Chave’s argument are the massive steel sculptures by Minimalist artist Richard Serra. 

Tilted Arc was installed in Federal Plaza in lower Manhattan in 1981. Chave describes the work as a “mammoth, perilously tilted steel arc [that] formed a divisive barrier too tall to see over, and a protracted trip to walk around.” She writes, “it is more often the case with Serra that his work doesn’t simply exemplify aggression or domination, but acts it out.” Tilted Arc was so controversial upon its erecting that the General Services Administration, which commissioned the work, held hearings in response to petitions demanding the work be removed. Worth quoting at length, Chave writes:

A predictable defense of Serra’s work was mounted by critics, curators, dealers, collectors, and some fellow artists…. The principle arguments mustered on Serra’s behalf were old ones concerning the nature and function of the avant-garde…. What Rubin and Serra’s other supporters declined to ask is whether the sculptor really is, in the most meaningful sense of the term, an avant-garde artist. Being avant-garde implies being ahead of, outside, or against the dominant culture; proffering a vision that implicitly stands (at least when it is conceived) as a critique of entrenched forms and structures…. But Serra’s work is securely embedded within the system: when the brouhaha over Arc was at its height, he was enjoying a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art…. [The defense’s] arguments locate Serra not with the vanguard but with the standing army or “status quo.” … More thoughtful, sensible, and eloquent testimony at the hearing came instead from some of the uncouth:
My name is Danny Katz and I work in this building as a clerk. My friend Vito told me this morning that I am a philistine. Despite that I am getting up to speak…. I don’t think this issue should be elevated into a dispute between the forces of ignorance and art, or art versus government. I really blame government less because it has long ago outgrown its human dimension. But from the artists I expected a lot more. I didn’t expect to hear them rely on the tired and dangerous reasoning that the government has made a deal, so let the rabble live with the steel because it’s a deal. That kind of mentality leads to wars. We had a deal with Vietnam. I didn’t expect to hear the arrogant position that art justifies interference with the simple joys of human activity in a plaza. It’s not a great plaza by international standards, but it is a small refuge and place of revival for people who ride to work in steel containers, work in sealed rooms, and breathe recirculated air all day. Is the purpose of art in public places to seal off a route of escape, to stress the absence of joy and hope? I can’t believe this was the artistic intention, yet to my sadness this for me has become the dominant effect of the work, and it’s all the fault of its position and location. I can accept anything in art, but I can’t accept physical assault and complete destruction of pathetic human activity. No work of art created with a contempt for ordinary humanity and without respect for the common element of human experience can be great. It will always lack dimension.
The terms Katz associated with Serra’s project include arrogance and contempt, assault, and destruction; he saw the Minimalist idiom, in other words, as continuous with the master discourse of our imperious and violent technocracy.

The End of Art

Arthur Danto


Like Greenberg, Arthur Danto was an art critic for The Nation . However, Danto was overtly critical of Greenberg’s ideology and the influence he wielded over Modern and contemporary art. Nor was he a follower of Harold Rosenberg, though they shared influences, among them the phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Danto’s chief contribution to contemporary art was his advancing of Pop Artists, particularly Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein .

In “The End of Art” Danto argues that society at large determines and accepts art, which no longer progresses linearly, categorized by movements. Instead, viewers each possess a theory or two, which they use to interpret works, and art institutions are largely tasked with developing, testing, and modifying various interpretive methods. In this way, art differs little from philosophy. After decades of infighting regarding the proper way to interpret works of art, Danto essentially sanctioned each approach and the institutions that gave rise to them. He came to call this “pluralism.”

RELATED: What Was the Pictures Generation?

Similarly, in “Painting, Politics, and Post-Historical Art,” Danto makes the case for an armistice between formalism and the various theories that arose in opposition, noting that postmodern critics like Douglas Crimp in the 1980s, who positioned themselves against formalism, nonetheless adopted the same constrictive air, minus the revolutionary beginnings.

Modernist critical practice was out of phase with what was happening in the art world itself in the late 60s and through the 1970s. It remained the basis for most critical practice, especially on the part of the curatoriat, and the art-history professoriat as well, to the degree that it descended to criticism. It became the language of the museum panel, the catalog essay, the article in the art periodical. It was a daunting paradigm, and it was the counterpart in discourse to the “broadening of taste” which reduced art of all cultures and times to its formalist skeleton, and thus, as I phrased it, transformed every museum into a Museum of Modern Art, whatever that museum’s contents. It was the stable of the docent’s gallery talk and the art appreciation course—and it was replaced, not totally but massively, by the postmodernist discourse that was imported from Paris in the late 70s, in the texts of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, Jean-François Lyotard, and Jacques Lacan, and of the French feminists Hélène Cixous and Luce Irigaray. That is the discourse [Douglas] Crimp internalizes, and it came to be lingua artspeak everywhere. Like modernist discourse, it applied to everything, so that there was room for deconstructive and “archeological” discussion of art of every period.

Editor’s Note: This list was drawn in part from a 2014 seminar taught by Debra Bricker Balken in the MFA program in Art Writing at the School of Visual Arts titled Critical Strategies: Late Modernism/Postmodernism. Additional sources can be found here , here , here (paywall), and here . Also relevant are reviews of the 2008 exhibition at the Jewish Museum, “Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940–1976,”  notably those by Roberta Smith ,  Peter Schjeldahl , and  Martha Schwendener .

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Art Review Essay

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How many of you have seen the art sculptures around Granite City? Like the one by the movie theater? If you said yes, have you actually thought about their meanings or realized the importance of them? Hopefully, you will understand their importance by the end of my speech. Today I am going to tell you how art is beneficial, what art is, and why it should be appreciated.

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Art History : Art Criticism

Art History is the study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts. The history of art, we feel, can sometimes be confused with art criticism. However, Art History is concerned with finding the value of the artistic piece in respect with others in the same category of art or movement, and art criticism is more of an evaluation of art. The art examined best represents the culture during the time period, visions the artist imagined, and history behind an event. It also represents society in a specific area, beliefs the people may have, writing that tells a story, the natural world and environment, conflict between people and areas, and the human body. With these representations, artwork overall represents the life in which we live (d). Each piece has its own genre, design, format and style to it. This makes each piece extremely different, yet pleasing to the eye. They also vary between paintings, sculptures and architecture. These different types also make a variety of artwork to be seen by all people. The art pieces that I chose, Jar, Bottle and Glass by Juan Gris, The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dalí, and Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, seemed interesting to me and I believe to best represent the context in which they were created, along with the major artistic movements of the time. I went on to research them more thoroughly to better understand the history behind them,

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What Does The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci Depict? ‘The Last Supper’ of Leonardo da Vinci is considered to be undoubtedly a masterpiece. Debates have ensued, though, concerning the interpretation of this piece of art. Some even claim that Leonardo da Vinci tried to transfer a secret message to us through it. What is portrayed in this painting that has attracted and enchanted such a great amount of viewers? The painting depicts a supper of twelve disciples of Jesus…

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Art Review Example – A Good Gift to Deal With Your Own Paper

There is nothing more boring than a poor art review example. An art article written on the artist’s work with the sole purpose of telling about his or her merits is a sure way to scare off the reader. Such gifted writers have proper language skills, but alas, it is impossible to stay interested in reading their works.

No less evil are the articles imbued with caustic criticism, expressing the author’s subjective opinion about the picture, which is presented like professional and scientific opinion, but in fact reflects the weakness of the critic – for example, the critic admits nothing but realism in a painting. It is useful to remind these authors who write about artists’ works: “I see the picture and I think I understand the idea, but I can not say anything intelligible in an understandable form.” For this case, we present different types of reviews – as an example, an art exhibition review example. We very much hope that by taking them into consideration, you will be able to write your articles without further difficulty, and they will be useful, objective, and interesting.

How to Write an Art Review

Art Masterpieces for Your Art Review Example

It is impossible to imagine the present world without art. It is not just a simple decoration, but a significant source of inspiration, realization of our spiritual experiences, and creative ideas. Each of us has our own preferences and tastes in art. That is why, if your task is to assess a piece of art, for example a painting, you should follow your intuition and select the one that will speak directly to your heart. You do not need to hurry with your choice. You have to spend some time attending art galleries and museums. The success of your research will depend on your decision. To help you with this task, we have prepared a list of possible topics that you may use for your research. It covers both the art masterpieces of historic times and relatively new paintings. We hope that you will make the right choice and succeed with your paper.

How an Art Review Example Can Help You

Do not miss the opportunity to use our samples if you want to learn how to write an art review perfectly. Our writers have knowledge in art, and they show how you can use sources properly while writing a review. Our samples can help you to write a good review so that it attracts readers and lets you get a high grade. Make sure that you know how to write your paper; in any case, samples presented on our site can help you.

As you can see, our writers don’t overload the reviews with frequent repetitions. The reviews are rather informative, but are not overloaded with informativeness. Works of art which are reviewed in our samples are popular and significant. Most students find them similar to their assignment topics.

Sometimes it can be difficult to write an art review, as it requires knowledge and writing skills. If you are interested in getting appreciation and a high grade from your teacher, you need to know how a review should be written. This is greatly helped by a review of art done by a professional writer.

What does the review look like? If you want to leave your feedback on the picture, read though our samples, but don’t resort to copying the opinions of other people. In the beginning, it would be right to read through samples on a similar topic and then state your point of view on the question you got. You can see in our samples that writers specifically note those moments that left an indelible impression on them and caught their attention.

Our writers use different vivid words to describe works of art, for example, “portrayed,” “attracts attention,” “a subtle feeling,” “striking,” “symbolic imagery,” etc. Also, you can see that our writers describe the associations that occurred during the viewing of works of art, and share their thoughts that arose in the process of thinking about what they saw.

Any review that you can find on our site is not too formal or boring. Our writers are not shy about epithets and sincerely express their thoughts, as they know that this kind of paper should be written in this manner. You can see in our samples that it will be great to see such words as “amazing,” “wonderful,” “simply delightful,” “I have long dreamed of such a picture” – they will add to the description the connotation of the spoken genre.

If you read though our samples, you will see that your own view of what you see can be translated into an idea you have. The samples you find on our site are presented only for viewing, but it’s up to you whether to use it as a guideline or not.

Thanks to our samples, your review writing will be much easier. Read though our samples to understand how to deal with this type of paper!


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Guide: How to write a review essay

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A review essay examines a piece of writing, a film or some other form of art, but it differs from a literary essay in a couple of key ways. A review essay is evaluative . That means that its purpose is to tell the reader whether the work is good or not and whether the work is recommended. Also, unlike a literary essay, a review essay is not written for someone who is already familiar with the work in question. The audience for a review essay is someone who is wondering whether to spend their time and money on the work reviewed. A review essay may contain more plot summary than a literary essay , but it shouldn’t give away any of the major revelations or the ending.

Read Sample Reviews

Reviews are common in journalism, and examples of reviews of everything from movies to video games to computer software and more can be found online. Reading a few reviews of films and books from major publications such as nationally known magazines or large city newspapers can be a good way to get a sense of what is expected in a review essay.

Characteristics of a Good Review Essay

A good review essay will place the work in some sort of context. For example, a good review about a movie that tells the story of traveling circus people would briefly mention other movies about traveling circus people and how this film compares with those others or how it fits into the overall picture of traveling circus people that film has presented over the years. In a literary essay, this might be the whole point of the paper, but in a review essay, it would only be a paragraph or two. The introduction or the paragraph just after the introduction is a good place for this context.

A review essay is somewhat subjective, but it still needs to have standards and examples to demonstrate its points. It needs to give some reasons that the work is good or bad and it needs to support those reasons. This will help the audience to decide whether to follow the reviewer’s advice.

Thesis Statement

A thesis statement for a review essay should make an evaluation of the film and explain why the writer has made that evaluation. Here’s an example:

“Sideshow on the Road” is a terrible movie about traveling circus people with poor acting, an implausible plot and a boring, talky script.

The body of the review would then expand on these reasons to convince the reader to avoid the film.

The review itself should use specific examples from the work to illustrate the reviewer’s point. For example, the reviewer has complained about the poor acting in the movie. To illustrate this, the reviewer might describe a scene in which a character learns a loved one has died and seems to have no reaction at all. The boring, talky script might be illustrated by explaining that the characters spend a full ten minutes arguing about whether they took a wrong turn.

Review essays may be formal or informal and may be more or less personal. Depending on the style of the review, “I” may or may not be used. More informal reviews may use humor, sarcasm and personal stories to highlight points about the work in question. Formal reviews should avoid these devices. With tone, it’s important to stay consistent. If a formal tone is chosen, it should be maintained throughout the piece, and the same is true for an informal tone.

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    An art critique paper involves a comprehensive analysis and assessment of an artwork. Though this looks a bit complicated, the task doesn’t require a lot of time if you have sufficient critique writing skills. It’s an interesting assignment for students of art colleges as well as high schoolers. All you need is to study some art critique ...

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    Art is elusive as the use of colors shapes and the surface used adds a new dimension. Art portrays various ideas, feelings such as triumph, love, happiness, sorrow and boredom in loss to mention a few. Art is beauty and creativity. During man’s evolution art has progressed over in its most primitive state up to its most modernized versions today.

  6. Art Review Examples You Should Definitely Read

    Art Review Example – A Good Gift to Deal With Your Own Paper There is nothing more boring than a poor art review example. An art article written on the artist’s work with the sole purpose of telling about his or her merits is a sure way to scare off the reader.

  7. Guide: How to write a review essay

    A review essay examines a piece of writing, a film or some other form of art, but it differs from a literary essay in a couple of key ways. A review essay is evaluative. That means that its purpose is to tell the reader whether the work is good or not and whether the work is recommended.