Guidelines For How To Do An Art Critique

By: Tauseen  Seyed & Moaad Bkr

Disclaimer: This is not a formal art critique from an art historical perspective but rather contextualizes artistic practices within notions of democracy. For example, we are interested in how publics represent themselves and vie for visibility within public space, public art versus art for the public and symbolic violence.

1- Start with objective comments; keep subjectivity till the end of the critique. You want to empower the audience to interpret the artwork themselves without being overpowered by your opinions. you want to engage with the audience, not argue with it.

Figure 1 – you may think its a “big hideous bear” but you don’t want to start with those comments. Start by saying it’s blue and is two stories high! Courtesy: flickr @clarkmaxwell


2- Start by describing the artwork, its location, it’s history and the artist’s history.

3- Describe the artwork’s form: the materials the artist has used to express his idea and the use of space (what is the effect of the space in which the artwork is presented/exposed)









Figure 2 – Positioning the painting on the sidewalk where audience can interact with it is as much the part of the artwork as the painting itself

4- Describe the content that the artwork presents: the idea that the artwork speaks about. (Remember that there is no clear line between form and content; they are just guidelines to keep in mind)


5- Once you have described the artwork, start analyzing the artwork: how is it related to the public, which public can be affected by the artwork, etc.

6- Use different perspectives in interpreting the artwork: the artist’s perspective and the public that interacts with it. Also use your own perspective to add to the critique.

Figure 3 – Once you have explained Banksy’s history of controversial street art, you are set to explore what the piece means to you

4-. Keep the critique accessible – Remember your audience. If you are critiquing it for a general website, define the terms and concepts that you use.


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