Art Analysis Essay Example

Art Analysis Essay

957 Words4 Pages

Though most works of art have some underlying, deeper meaning attached to them, our first impression of their significance comes through our initial visual interpretation. When we first view a painting or a statue or other piece of art, we notice first the visual details – its size, its medium, its color, and its condition, for example – before we begin to ponder its greater significance. Indeed, these visual clues are just as important as any other interpretation or meaning of a work, for they allow us to understand just what that deeper meaning is. The expression on a statue’s face tells us the emotion and message that the artist is trying to convey. Its color, too, can provide clues: darker or lighter colors can play a role in how we…show more content…

The Stele depicts a simple scene: a seated man and standing woman behind him stare blankly straight ahead. A woman standing on the left looks down upon them. All of them are ordinary humans. They are not gods or goddesses. They are private people. Their clothing is plain, consisting of simple robes. It is representational of a regular family mourning the loss of one of its members, a scene that most people, even today, are able to relate to hundreds or even thousands of years later.

The stele conveys a solemn forlornness that can be seen in the figures’ faces. Their mouths are tightly shut; their eyes gaze blankly ahead. The woman on the left stares ahead with little emotion on her face. The stele does not depict any motion. All of the figures are standing (or sitting) still, in quiet memorial. This solemnity adds to the emotion of a grave where the stele once stood. There is no real clear answer as to who is being mourned. Are the seated man and the woman mourning the loss of their daughter, on the left? Or is the woman on the left mourning the loss of a father? The sculpture’s ambiguity also adds to the emotion that it evokes. It might even be appropriate for its purpose. Its function was to mark a gravesite – the site of the body of someone who has died. Death is one of the most complex parts of life. It is the most ambiguous, for nobody knows for sure what happens in death. The ambiguity of the stele highlights

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Use the pre-writing questions below to help you analyze your images and start writing notes that will help you develop your paper ideas.

1. Claims: What claims does the image make? What type of claim is it?

  • Fact Claim: Is it real?
  • Definition Claim: What does it mean?
  • Cause Claim: What is the Cause? What are the effects? How are these related?
  • Value Claim: How important is this? How should we evaluate it?
  • Policy Claim: What is the solution? What should we do about it?

2. Visual Composition: How is the image arranged or composed? Which of the following aspects of composition help makes the claim? Examine:

  • Layout: where images are placed and what catches your attention. How visual lines draw your attention to or away from the focal point.
  • Balance: size of images and how they compare with one another. Is the focal point centered or offset?
  • Color: how color (or lack of color) draws your attention or creates a mood
  • Key figures: what is the main focus? How does this contribute to meaning?
  • Symbols: are there cultural symbols in the image? What do these mean?
  • Stereotypes : how does image support stereotypes or challenge them?
  • Exclusions: is there anything left out of the image that you expect to be there?

3. Genre: What is the genre of this image? (examples: fine art, movie, advertisement, poster, pamphlet, news photograph, graphic art etc.). How does it follow the rules of that genre or break away from them? How does that affect the meaning of the image for the audience?

4. Text: How does any text or caption work to provide meaning to the visual?

5. Appeals: How does it appeal to the audience to believe the claims? Are appeals to logic? Emotion? Character? Authority? Are any of these appeals false or deceiving?

6. Selling: Does the claim move into a sales pitch? Does it use a cultural value or common cultural symbol in a way that exploits that image?

7. Story: What story does this image convey? How does this story help the claim or appeal to the audience?


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