visual art review guidelines

The review should be 800-1000 words in length, be typed, and interact with the following questions.
Please attach your ticket / receipt to the review.
[ exhibit choices are here ]

Experiencing the Gallery
• Plan to spend at least two hours at the gallery (you will most likely want to spend more time). Spend the first hour or so walking around the whole gallery, taking in the paintings and getting a feel for the space. Remember any pieces that catch your attention.
• Choose any two paintings to look at a little closer. Spend at least 15 minutes looking at each painting (the first five minutes may seem like forever, but when you start to notice some of the details the time will begin to move faster).
• Start by looking at the parts of the painting that originally caught your attention.
• Then look at the questions in the “formal criticism” section and work through the questions below.
• Finally, look at the questions in the “contextual criticism” section and work through the questions below.

Information about the Paintings
Please include the following information about the two pieces you spend time with: Title, Artist, Date, Medium

Formal / Technical Criticism (400-500 words)
Describe and provide some analysis (with specific examples from the paintings) of each element and how it plays a part in the entire piece. Look for similarities and differences between the two pieces you chose. (ie. Piece A is an open form while Piece B is closed. This is because…). If certain formal elements are not relevant to the piece you chose ignore them and discuss elements that are relevant.
•    What is the point of view of the piece?
•    Is this painting open or closed?
•    How is line used? (What are the brushstrokes like? What are the contour lines (outlines of the shapes) like? Is there a use of certain shapes?)
•    How is this piece balanced?
•    Where is the light source? How does this affect balance and other elements?
•    Discuss the texture of the piece.
•    How is colour used within the piece? What effect does it give?
•    Are there any other techniques used that you can identify?
Contextual Criticism (400-500 words)
•    What was the social and cultural context surrounding why these pieces were created?
•    Can you find out anything about why the artist chose to create a piece like this?
•    What is the subject matter of the piece, and how does the subject matter related to the form?
•    Can you find out anything about the reception history of these pieces?
•    How did the information provided about the piece alter the way you perceived it?
•    What attracted you to the paintings that you chose? Are there similarities between the two pieces that drew you to them?
•    Does the painting lean towards realism (representing something real) or abstractionism (not representing something real) or somewhere in the middle? How does this change the way you understand the piece?
•    Is there a narrative that this piece draws you into? What is it?
•    How did these pieces utilize your already held understandings of the world? How did it challenge you?
•    What kind of new meaning were you able to take away from these pieces?

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