An art essay is a type of essay focusing on the analysis of a given piece of art. Art is generally referred to such genres as painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, and other types of human activity. The art essay, therefore, can be written on any of the above-described subcategories. In this article, we will review some basic principles of analyzing the most common kinds of art. Before reading further, you may look through our art essay topics list containing 70 most popular topics about arts:
Types of Art Essays
An art analysis essay can be of two major types: comparative and formal.
Comparative art essays are aimed at comparing two or more pieces of art with the aim of identifying the similarities and differences between them. In turn, formal art essays, serve the purpose of analyzing an art form, identifying its most salient features.
Comparative analysis of an art form is based on the formal analysis. When you are doing a comparative analysis of a piece or pieces of art, you should first analyze it according to the canons of the formal approach, and then they are compared and contrasted against each other. There are two possible strategies to pursue in this case. The first strategy is called "lumping", where you can analyze all details of exhibit A and then of exhibit B. The second strategy is often referred to as "splitting" when all details of exhibit A and exhibit B are analyzed in parallel.
The formal analysis of an art piece simply means that the form is the main object of scrutiny. Such aspects as color, line, space, and mass are analyzed in the first place. In most cases, there is certain symbolism behind each fragment of the piece of art, so they need to be analyzed carefully too. When analyzing a piece of art from a formal standpoint, be sure to address such questions as:
- The name of the artist.
- The period when this piece of art was created.
- The historic context behind the analyzed piece of art.
- Background of the artist.
- What is the physical condition of the work?
- Is it typical for the period? What movement does it belong to?
- Pay attention to the details (lights, colors, technique etc). Are they in harmony?
Depending on the piece of art you are looking at, you may utilize different approaches in writing your art essay. For example, if you are going to write about a piece of architecture, then you should mention aspects like materials, size, shape, function. If you are looking at a painting, you are mostly interested in colors, forms, line, the depicted object, symbolism, hues, and light.
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