For your Exhibition Analysis Writing Assignment, Task 6:
Identify at least one element of art and one principle of design that are used by the artist and play an important role in your chosen artwork. (See Ch’s 3-7 in Sayre for a list of elements and principles.) Explain how these fundamentals are employed by the artist and how their use supports the larger effect of the work. Be as detailed and specific as possible and follow the model suggested below.
Elements of Art (Choose One):
Choose one visual element that plays an essential role in the work and analyze its characteristics and function, following a “road map” of questions such as the questions suggested below. (Please note: choose relevant questions below to address, as needed. Don’t attempt to answer them all!)
Color: What colors, color schemes, or kinds of value, hue, and shades of color are used in the work? Are they primary, secondary, local, symbolical, complementary, etc., and how do they relate to each other? Do gradations in value (additions of black and white to a hue) play an important role? Are the colors intense and saturated, or are they dull and muted? What is the role of such color choices and relations? How do the technical aspects of color convey or emphasize specific messages, ideas, or feelings?
Line: Does line play a role in the work? If so, how does line function in it? What kinds of line do you see? Does the character of the lines change in different parts of the work, and why? Are the lines actual dark outlines, or is line merely suggested by the boundaries between one form and another? Are the lines merely outlines filled in by colors, or do the lines actually suggest three-dimensionality in some way? Do you see hatching or cross hatching? What is the role of that technique in the work? How do the technical features of line convey specific messages, ideas, or feelings?
Light: What role does light play in your experience of the painting? Does the artist model forms with light and shade? Do you see chiaroscuro or tenebrism in the work? Are there any identifiable sources of light or a direction from which light enters the scene? What parts of the image does light accentuate or deemphasize (leave in shadows)? Are there forms which reflect light onto other forms (e.g., light reflected into a shadow area from a neighboring form?) Are there any cast shadows present and what is their role? How do these technical features convey specific messages, ideas, or feelings?
Texture/Movement: Is there actual or visual (implied) texture in the work? How would you describe the actual surface of the work or the visual surface of the form/s represented—rough, textured, smooth, slimy, soft, feathered, etc.? How visible are the brushstrokes (if the work is painted) or the marks made by the tools of the artist? E.g., is there a buildup of paint (impasto) or does the work appear to have been thinly painted? Are the marks of the chisel visible in the sculpture or is the surface polished? Is there any movement in the work—actual or suggested? How do these technical features convey specific messages, ideas, or feelings?
Shape/Mass/Space: Do you see any shapes in the work, and how are they arranged? What is their relationship to the picture plane and the background of the work? Do you see volume, and does mass/form play a role in the work? How is weight and two- or three-dimensionality represented or suggested? How are the figures/elements distributed in space? Is the space in the work deep or shallow? How is projection, depth, and recession in space expressed? Do you see linear or atmospheric perspective and, if so, how do they work (think of color, lines, vanishing point, scale, etc.)? How do these technical features convey specific messages, ideas, or feelings?
Principles of Design (Choose One):
Choose one principle of design that plays an essential role in the work and examine its function. How does this principle contribute to the overall visual effect of the work? Think of questions such as: (Please note: choose relevant questions below to address, as needed. Don’t attempt to answer them all!)
Are there any other ways in which balance (symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial balance); emphasis and focal point; scale and proportion; pattern, repetition, and rhythm; or unity and variety are suggested, challenged, or expressed in the work (choose one principle)?
What kinds of balance, emphasis, pattern, proportions, etc. do you see in the work (choose one principle)?
Which elements are (de)emphasized, (dis)proportionate, repeated, balanced/out of balance, etc. in the work, and why (choose one principle)? How is that important?
Is the work symmetrical, asymmetrical, balanced, etc.? What type of balance or symmetry does it employ?
Does the work convey harmony or disorder?
How do the figures/elements relate to the whole, the site, or other elements in terms of scale, proportion, emphasis, unity, etc.?
Does the spectator have to look up or down at the work? Is/are the work/parts of the work small or large in scale and what effect does that produce?
How does the principle of design you have chosen convey specific messages, ideas, or feelings?