Enriching the Arts

Challenges of Critiquing Modern Art with Traditional Methods

Technological developments complicate conventional evaluations

800px-Thyes-maltaasmetaphor-shedhalle-zurichThe guidelines for critiquing artwork existed long before the birth of the technological age, where current innovations enable artists to create multimedia, digital and new media artworks. So are the traditional methods of critiquing a work of art still relevant, even in a highly digitized world?

Critique Guidelines

The University of Wisconsin defines art criticism as “Responding to, interpreting meaning, and making critical judgments about specific works of art.” Furthermore, the definition states that the purpose of art criticism is to “help viewers perceive, interpret, and judge artworks.”

There are four levels to the formal analysis of a piece of artwork. The first is description, or perceiving the piece of art without making any judgement values about it. The second level covers analysis, asking the critic to determine what the elements present in the piece of art suggest to a viewer.

The third level deals with interpretation, or placing the piece of art within a wider context in regard to social events as well as the tradition it follows in. This level primarily concerns itself with meaning. Finally, the fourth level deals with judgement – based on criteria and evidence.

Applying Traditional Guidelines to Modern Artwork

Yota_Space_2010_-_HallAccording to this description of the guidelines in place for formal art analysis, making the leap between critiquing traditional forms of artwork and the new forms of contemporary artwork that have recently emerged should be simple because the guidelines seem fluid enough to be applied to any sort of art.

However, challenges emerge when attempting to apply these forms of analysis to forms of artwork that may include a video or audio components, as well as new media and multimedia forms of artwork that interact with the viewer, or that the viewer can influence in some way.

The ASA is pleased to announce it will be hosting a workshop concerning the challenges of using traditional methods of critiquing to analyze modern artwork. Chris Willard, the Head of Painting at ACAD, will be sharing his perspective on the subject on March 18, 2014.

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Calgary, AB T2G 1R7
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