arts
Critical Research in the Arts
home
Examples | Methodology | Student Resources | Glossary | Teacher Resources
description

Critical Research in the Arts - This deals with the nature and value of art objects and experiences. It is concerned with identifying the clues within works that can be used to understand, judge, and defend judgments about those works. In turn, it allows students to incorporate their interpretations into their own works. There are 3 theories:

  • Imitationalism - places emphasis on the literal qualities. According to this theory, the most important thing about a work of art is the realistic representation of subject matter. A work is considered successful if it looks like and reminds the audience of what is seen in the real world.

  • Emotionalism - places emphasis on the expressive qualities. According to this theory, the most important thing about a work of art is the vivid communication of moods, feelings, and ideas.

  • Formalism - places emphasis on form — the structural qualities instead of either content or contextual qualities. According to this point of view, the most important thing about a work of art is the effective organization of the elements of art through the use of the principles of design. (ArtLex)

This pathway goes hand-in-hand with Artistic Aesthetics. 

See other types of Fine Arts research. Anthropological Experimental Historical Practice-Based


examples
methodology
(Refined from Rosalind Ragan’s ARTTALK)

How to Critique Works of Art (including visual arts, dance, music, plays and film)

Doing arts criticism is like playing detective. You must assume that the artist has a secret message hidden inside the work. Your job is to solve the mystery and find the message.

Step 1

Development of Theory

To begin criticism of the arts, make a list of all the things you see in the work. This step is meant to slow your pace. Slowing down helps you notice things you might otherwise miss. During this step you must be objective. In other words, give only the facts. Include a description the work, including elements of the genre.

Step 2

Research and Analysis

During step two you are still collecting facts. Now, however, you will pay attention to the elements and principles of each. You will research and study how the artist has used each.

Step 3

Interpretation

During step three, you have two questions to answer: "What is happening?" and "What is the artist trying to say?" You will interpret (explain or tell the meaning of) the work. How you interpret a work of art will depend on what you have done and seen in your life? However, your interpretation should be based upon the facts and clues you collected during the first two steps. Your interpretation can express your feelings, but your feelings must be backed up by observation and research.

Step 4

Judgment of Research

In step four you will judge whether or not the work succeeds or fails based on the theory you developed. This is the time to give your opinions. No one can ever tell you what to like or dislike. You must make up your own mind. To make a good judgment you need to be honest with yourself. You need to know why you feel the way you do.

Step 5

Application to Work

In step five you will apply your interpretation and judgment to produce your own work. This can take any artistic form (visual art, dance, music or electronic media)

Step 6

Analysis of Product

Art criticism will help you analyze your own works of art. The four steps of art criticism will help you be as honest and unbiased as possible. The analysis step will probably be the most useful. It will help you perceive how you have used the elements and principles of art. When you analyze your work you should find out why your work either needs improvement or is a total success.

studentresources
General
  • Aristos - An Online Review of the ArtsAristos is an online review of the arts and the philosophy of art. It is a unique critical voice, advocating objective standards in arts scholarship and criticism, and arguing that the concept of art (in the sense of the traditional fine arts of painting, sculpture, literature, music, and dance) can, and ought to be, objectively defined.
Dance
  • ArtWorks - Deciphering Dance - Offering K-12 arts education materials for visual arts, dance, music and drama/theater in formats useful for teachers, students and parents. (Arizona State University)  
Film
  • Film Reviews and Film Criticism: An Introduction- From the University of California, Berkeley.  Provides Critical writing about film and video that generally falls into several broad categories, including published film reviews, scholarly or focused criticism and analysis, and fan writing. 
Literary
Music
Theater
Visual Arts
  • ArtWorks - Visual Arts Criticism - Offering K-12 arts education materials for visual arts, dance, music and drama/theater in formats useful for teachers, students and parents. (Arizona State University)  
  • Akrylic - Contemporary Arts Criticism- Akrylic.com presents a portfolio of Randy Gladman’s Contemporary Art writing and curating projects. The site also offers a library of noteworthy books about art and fun interviews with cool creative people. 
  • Art in America - Online version of the International review magazine
  • Cybermuse- Deconstructing Art- CyberMuse links you to the National Gallery of Canada's permanent collection through the Internet offering a complementary experience, a new dimension in interpreting, understanding and enjoying Canada's visual arts heritage.
glossary
teacherresources