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The Kax Herberger Center for Children + the Arts

Lesson Plans: Visual Arts

Art Criticism: The Process

High School Lesson Plan

Standard: Students will assess the characteristics of works of art

Indicator of Achievement:
Students will:

Standard: Students will explore media and techniques to create works of art

Indicator of Achievement:
Students will:

Standard: Students will choose and evaluate sources of content (subject matter consisting of themes, symbols, and ideas) to create works of art

Indicator of Achievement: Students will integrate visual, spatial, and temporal concepts with content to communicate intended meaning in their works of art

Materials:

Preparation: Have students compare the four steps of art criticism to the scientific method of inquiry used in their science classes. Discuss the essential questions occurring in each step of the critical process. Ask, "What do I see? (description); How is the work organized? (analysis); What is happening? What is the artist trying to say?" (interpretation); and "What do I think of the work?" (judgment). Use a writing assignment to have students demonstrate the similarities and differences between the two methods, e.g. a dialogue between a scientist and artist arguing which is the better approach, an essay or a forced answer test. (See Visual Arts Criticism for a full list of questions. Also see Expressionism a unit introducing students to art criticism)

Activity: Display a reproduction of "The Red Studio" (or send the students to the web). Ask the students to study the print and note their observations using the four steps of art criticism. Have the students write explaining their interpretations of the work based on the following questions.

Description: What do you see? What medium did Matisse use? What is the size of the painting? How much space would the painting fill on your wall at home? List everything you see in the studio.

Analysis: How is the work organized? What kind of shapes stand out? Are there any negative spaces? Why did the artist choose the hues that you see? How does the value affect this painting?

Interpretation: What is happening? What is the artist trying to say?

Judgment: How effective is this work? Use one or more theories of art to defend your assessment of the painting, e.g. Imitationalism, Formalism, Emotionalism.

Next students can be asked to think about their own rooms at home to use as subject matter in a work of art. Ask, "What color would best represent the room? What things would be in the room?" Using the paper and oil pastels, have the students make a drawing that depicts the important objects in their rooms. After they have finished working, have them exchange drawings and write a critique of their peer's work using the four steps of art criticism.

Assessment: Include the art work and written assignments in students' portfolio. Have students complete this mini unit using the four steps of art criticism to note their growth as artists to this point.

Adapted from a draft of Delaware's "Visual and Performing Arts Curriculum Framework"

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