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How to Evaluate Artworks

Updated on November 14, 2014

Art is a crucial element in human experience. Appreciation and understanding of art could be quite useful in widening an individual’s character as well as strengthening the existing relationship among people. Art consists of a diverse range of human activities, and the outcome of such activities. There are various forms of art, which includes visual arts (which consists of creation of objects and images), painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography and other visual media. Under this field are also architecture, decorative arts, theatre, dance, music, film, performing arts, and literature. Other types of art include decoration, literature, interactive media, crafts, fine arts, and applied arts (Davies, 2009, 134).

Since time immemorial, art has been controversial. Some people may decide to dislike a particular art for various reasons. There have been incidences of art destructions especially those that are not appealing or outrageous to some people. Some artistic creations have been disliked simply because they depicted unpopular parties, individuals, rules or groups. Conventions involving art have in most cases, been conservative (Noël, 2008, 45). The iconographic content of art may result into controversies. An example can be derived from the depiction of the new motif of the virgin’s Soon alongside the crucifixion of Christ. Another example of artistic controversy is that Last Judgement by Michelangelo. This is because it breached decorum by the depiction of not only duty, but also the Apollo Like pose of Christ. This art became a nuisance to many people (Stecker, 2007, 35).

The many controversies in artistic designs have necessitated assessments on this artistic project to ascertain the quality before they are displayed in the public domain (Kennick,2009, 6). In different generation, artistic evaluation have been done using various criterion. In this situation, I think artistic quality should be assessed before being displayed for the public in order to eliminate or reduce controversies. Despite being in existence, a wider criterion for artistic evaluations, I will in this paper focus on fine art (painting) and discuss three methods to criterion in artistic quality evaluations. These criterions include assessment in artistic style, artistic technique and line.

Discussion

The necessity of artistic assessments

In most cases, people tend to assess a particular piece of art by attaching their personal feelings to the decisions that they take. The contents of the majority of formal arts throughout history have been determined by the commissioner and the patron instead of a particular artist. However, economic revolution with regard to production of art and the vision of the artists have come to be the predominant determinants of the art’s contents. This has subsequently led to increased incidences of controversies, which in most cases have come to reduce their significance. Incentives for supposed publicity, and originality have encouraged artists to disregard controversies, which their work may stir. Just taking an example, there was an artistic work that was identified Raft of the Medusa , which was created by Théodore Géricault in (1820). In particular, this work was partly a political commentary on a particular event that had been committed at that time. Another controversial artist work that was identified as Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe (1863), by Édouard Manet was regarded as being scandalous not only because it showed a nude woman, but also because the women was seating besides men who were fully dressed in that time’s attire instead of the roads of the traditional world. Another example of controversial artistic designs may be derived from a design identified as Madame Pierre Gautreau (Madam X) (1884), created by John Singer Sargent. The controversial aspect in this art was about the red pink that was employed in coloring the ear lobe of the woman. This was considered as being extremely suggestive, and ruined the reputation of the society (Yan et al, 2006, 420)

The gradual disregard of naturalism and the portrayal of sensible representations of the visual appearance of the objects in the 20th century resulted into an increased artistic controversy that lasted more than a century. Pablo Picasso in the 20th century employed arresting cubist methods as well as stark monochromatic oils in a work called Guernica (1937) in portraying a distressing ramification of the bombing of the traditional Basque town (Tong, 2004, 45). Further, the Interrogation III (1981)by Leon Golub, portrayed a nude woman, hooded prisoner who was strapped to a chair, her legs wide a part, revealing her sexual organs and surrounded by two oppressor who were dressed in normal clothing. The final example on the consequences of controversial artworks is on the Piss Christ (1989) Serrano Andrea. This depicted photography of a cru fix, which is a sacred element in Christianity that stands for the suffering and sacrifice of Christ inundated in a glass of the artist’s urine. This caused an uproar among the Christian fraternity, and the widespread comments in U.S against public funding of artistic works (Datta et al, 2006, 290).

These examples only help in reinforcing the logic on the need to censor and assess artistic quality before such works are displayed in the public arena. Evaluation of artistic quality is also important for assisting designers and popular style to be knowledgeable on the potential perceptions and opinions of users or views in an easy way. In the present perspective, art is no longer regarded as a luxurious enjoyment for many people. It has come to pervade the lives of many people. Additionally, there have emerged favorable patterns and styles of paintings and other artistic works that have been introduced in the appearance designs of clothes, products, and architecture.

Criteria for Assessing Artistic Quality

In assessments of artistic quality, it may be difficult to be subjective since various people have various preferences. Furthermore, each artist has his or her own unique capabilities and this can easily cause biasness in the evaluation process. There are however major criterion used to assess artistic work in various perspectives (Ritendra, 2007, 540). This paper will however, discuss three major criteria, which include style, artistic technique and skill.

The work of assessing the artwork such as a sculpture and painting necessitates a combination of subjective and objective opinions. The assumption that art evaluation is subjective may be true to some extent. However, it should be noted that the goal of assessing an artwork is not simply to determine whether you dislike or liking the work, rather it is on why you dislike, or liking it (Li. 2012, 56). This also necessitates a certain degree of knowledge in doing so. For instance, a person’s assessment of a drawing done by a 13 year old girl in a school compound is likely to vary with a similar drawing done by a 50-year-old man. In similar way, the same standards cannot be applied in assessing actual life qualities of a portrait that is realistic in comparison with an expressionist portrait. This owes to the fact that an expressionist artist may not be trying to capture the same level of visual objectivity the same way as a realistic artist. Putting it differently, assessors of artwork required to generate facts on where their opinions are based. Some of these facts relates to the artwork itself and the context of the work. The assessment can be done easily once the facts are generated. The much information we can acquire from context, and the actual artwork, the more sound the assessment will be.

Some of the criterion used in assessing artwork in relation to painting include texture and brush work, beauty( that is how appealing it is), repetition of shapes and patterns, a comparison of the artwork with other similar ones, and use of colors. Other aspects to be considered include use of line and shape, composition, artistic skill and style content and subject matter and the materials employed in creation of such paints (Livingstone, 2011, 34). The criterion that will be discussed in this paper include use of line and shape, artistic skill and style used in the painting artwork.

Line and Shape Evaluation in Painting Art Work

A painter’s skill is in most cases shore cast in the confidence and skill f his outline, which in this case is referred as the line. The line is an essential aspect in delineating and creating different shapes in an artwork. In a popular story, a re-known patron sends a messenger to Giotto, who was a popular painter in the great pre-renaissance period. The messenger requested Giotto to proof his identity and the artist end up producing a paintbrush, and a linen piece where he paints a unique circle. He then hands in this artwork to the messenger and tells him, “ Your master will be in a position to understand the artist in this work. The aspect of line is a significant element with regard to the painting structure (Tong and Zhang, 2005, 111).

Line can be used to explain why the drawing is regarded by all experts and is one of the greatest traits of an artist. In the first opening of the European academies of fine art, learners were not taught painting, but just drawing. Some of the famous draftsmen at that time, were those whose art line were without mistake. John Singer Sargent (1856–1925) also popular painters can be used as a modern example on the essence of line. The artist who was also a master in au premier coup technique could use just one stroke of the brush without having to rework on it. The paintings of Gauguine, and Van Gogh which were drawn by modern artists with no formal training are still standing out because of the confident, and remarkable lines ( Arnheim, 2006, 45).

Concerning figurative paintings, the evaluation should entail the artist’s use of chiaroscuro in optimizing the 3-D quality of the figures. Other factors to be considered is the use of tenebrim as part of the plan of illumination in putting the spotlight on specific parts of the picture. This assessment also entails the use of sfumato technique in color blending (Wang, and Sheikh, 2009).

In essence, a line is a recognizable path, which is established by a point, which is moving in space. In most cases, it is one dimensional, and can vary in length, direction, and width. They are used in defining the edges of a particular form. They can be vertical, horizontal, straight, diagonal, thick, thin or curved. Through their direction and general character, they can be used to show the general art composition, and in communicating information about the general art. Shallow, soft curves reflect on the curves of the human body. In most cases, they have a sensual and appealing quality and a softening impact on the art composition. On the other hand, diagonal lines may convey a sense of movement. Objects that are placed in a diagonal position may be unstable since they are neither horizontal nor vertical. Rather, they may be in motion, and about to fall. Vertical and horizontal lines are combined to convey solidity, and stability. Such stability may suggest a sense of permanence, and reliability. Vertical lines on the other hand are used to convey a sense of height since they are perpendicular to the earth. A painter must adhere to these concepts when using lines in his or her work to avoid creating controversy in interpretations (Barrett, 2011, 24).

Evaluators in painting artwork need to identify whether the lines used in artworks are clear in their entity in articulating the forms. This aspect requires a sense of thoughtful and organizing mind, which has weighed up, and placed the lines exactly where they are supposed to be. This is usually termed as the economy of statement. The facility or deftness of the line is used to portray a feeling that the brush used by the painter was fully and always under his intelligent control. The rhythmic quality is another quality, which is considered in the abstract in the lines. This is where the evaluator needs to identify whether the lines used in the artwork stir an integrating and powerful rhythm. The qualities of the lines used should also be measured in relation to variation and sensitivity. Finally, the assessors should identify whether the lines create an appealing design (Wang, 2009, 87).

Assessing the Style Used in Painting Artwork

Artists do understand the fun associated with spending much time in painting. However, its good for them for them to regularly spend time in assessing the work that is already completed. Artists ought to step back, and evaluate the development, and strengths of a painter, the success so made, goals and aspirations anticipated from the artwork. Artist must know their objective in the specific work they are working on (Mayer, 2010, 312). Artists should be able to identify specific aspects that may distinguish their work as theirs. One of the aspects is the use or development of a distinctive style. This would be the manner in which the artist or painter lays down the paint, specific colors applied, how the theme is depicted in the work and so on. In this respect, one of the first things an evaluator or painter need to look at is how the colors have been employed in the whole work. Are the colors appropriately used? are they too bright? Light? Subdued? Dark. The color wheel is one of the most essential instruments used in analyzing the use of colors in painting artworks (Stokstad, 2008, 234).

Another aspect is the application of materials in the specific work. While it may not be easy t view much of the really material or surface behind a paint, understanding what is being painted is a significant aspect in assessing the painting. For example, painting on stone, or creating a fresco by use of a plaster is not the same as painting on an parchment, canvas, wood, or fabric. Different paper types absorb paint in different ways and provide different textures on finished paintings (Barnet, 2008, 76).

Another factor to be looked at is how the range of inks, and paints have been applied, either in combination or individually. Paints have various chemical properties, translating that different paints have various effects to the finished work. For instance, acrylic paint could produce a shiny and glossy effect while the effect produced by temperature paint will be soft. These paints are also different in thickness, from those that are translucent to those that are extremely thick to an extend of making a painting to appear as a three-dimensional. The evaluator or painter should evaluate whether the different paintings have been used effectively and in proper manner (University of Iowa, 2012, 1).

Assessing the Artistic and skills in Painting Artwork

In this respect, an evaluator needs to find out on the background of the particular artists involved the painting or artwork. They also have to identify the inspirations and the media which they preferred to work with. Having this understanding and their background will be helpful in understanding how the life experiences influenced their work. It will also be useful in understanding why the artist used particular techniques in his or her work. Having knowledge on whether a painting work was made early or late in the life of a painter can assist a lot in evaluation of their works (TigerColor, 2011, 78).

Typically, many artists improve their painting skill and technique with time. They may be able to achieve a high point scale in their mid life career, and then gradually fade in their later years. There are however, those who end up dying at the peak of their powers. On the other hand, there are artists who flourish early, and while they may continue painting for many years, they may fail to stick to their earlier successes. A small proportion of artists however, maintain their creativity even in the old age. Having an artist’s background can assist a lot in explaining the technique, and skill used in his work (Anderson, 2004, 5).

An evaluator needs to find out on the background of the particular artists involved the painting or artwork. They also have to identify the inspirations and the media which they preferred to work with. Having this understanding and their background will be helpful in understanding how the life experiences influenced their work. It will also be useful in understanding why the artist used particular techniques in his or her work (Madeja, 2009, 78).Though paintings may be attributed to the works of painters in their own right; they may also be constituents in other media. In this perspective, the assessor, or painter has to identify how the painter used technical command and the creative skill by the painter in his or her work (Sabol, 2006, 6).

Conclusion

In conclusion, evaluation of an artwork before it is displayed is a necessary factor to ensure quality, and elimination of controversies. The same as a good writing is essential writing, good paintings and other artworks means consistently assessing the efforts used in such works, appreciating its weaknesses and strengths, and learning to do better. It is essential for an artist to see your work as others view. In this case, local art galleries, and art shows becomes very significant. The overriding concern is the qualities of artwork, and this can be possible through constant evaluation of the particular work. Evaluation of artistic quality is also important for assisting designers and popular style to be knowledgeable on the potential perceptions and opinions of users or views in an easy way. In the present perspective, art is no longer regarded as a luxurious enjoyment for many people.

The aspect of line is a significant element with regard to the painting structure. Line can be used to explain why the drawing is regarded by all experts, and is one of the greatest traits of an artist. Through their direction and general character, they can be used to show the general art composition, and in communicating information about the general artwork. A painter or artist must adhere to specific concepts of line when using lines in his or her work to avoid creating controversy in interpretations. On the other hand, artists should be able to identify specific aspects that may distinguish their work as theirs. One of such aspects is the use and development of a distinctive style. This would be the manner in which the artist or painter lays down the paint, specific colors applied, how the theme is depicted in the work and so on.

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