Formal Analysis by malj


									  A How-To Guide…

Formal Analysis

    Introduction to Art
    September 4, 2009
              Formal Analysis
A formal analysis is quite simply an analysis of the
    forms utilized in the work of art. It is a close
  inspection of the artist’s use of aspects such as
color, shape, line, and space, in addition to others.
     The formal analysis moves beyond simple
 description in that it connects the elements of the
    work to the effects they have on the viewer.

  Remember: A formal analysis is a thoughtful,
descriptive statement of what is seen. An effective
  formal analysis answers the simple question:
                “What do you see?”
     Some Important Points
 Usually a formal analysis looks only at
  the elements of art and principles of

 Sometimes it includes interpretation

 The point is to look carefully
   Elements of Art
Iconography/Subject Matter
And so, some questions
  you need to ask…
 For Paintings, Drawings, and
 What element do you first notice? What is the
  second element you notice?
 How does the artist use color? Are there stark
  contrasts or is it blended? Are there symbolic
  meanings behind the color choices?
 How does the artist use line? Are forms linearly
  arranged or disordered? Are there geometric shapes
  implied by the forms in the piece?
 Are the forms in the piece realistic or abstract? Are
  they fully one style or do they mix the two?
    For Sculptures and 3-D
 What is the medium of the piece, and how does it
  affect the viewer’s impression? (For example,
  stone gives a sense of permanence and
 What was the purpose of this piece? In what
  setting was it originally placed?
 Is the piece representational or abstract? Is the
  artist exploring forms or space within forms?
 Is the piece a portrait of a person? What type of
  impression does it give of the subject? Is the
  pose strong or relaxed? Are there objects with
  the person?
       For Architecture and
 What is the form of the structure, and what is the
  function? How do form and function complement
  each other?
 Is the structure useful? How do people move
  throughout the structure? Are there significant
  accommodations or restrictions to this
 Is the building or space structurally sound, given
  its location, design, and materials?
 Do the exterior and interior complement each
  other? Is either adorned with ornamentation in
  the form of statuary, color, or paintings?
How to begin writing…
    An evocative statement/thesis

Body Paragraph(s)
   Three or more pieces of evidence to support
   statement/thesis (reference the “Elements of
   Art” list)

  A conclusion that is convincing
 A brief, but thorough description of
                the work
 What is the title?
 Who is the artist?
 What year was it created?
 What is the artistic style?
 What is the physical condition of the work? Is
  it dirty, clean, restored?
 What is the country or culture of origin? (see
  next slide)
 What is the subject matter?
           Historical Information

In other words…
 What country or region was it made in?
 Does it belong to a particular movement,
   age, or school of thought?
 Is the work typical or not typical of its period,
   style, or artist? What artistic influences can
   be seen in the artist's work?
The Block, 1971
Romare Bearden

One of six panels,
Each panel 48” x 36”
Cut and pasted printed,
colored, and metallic
papers, photostats, pencil,
ink, marker, gouache,
watercolor, pen, and ink on
Metropolitan Museum of Art,
New York
Begin with a thought-provoking or evocative
thesis; something that will hook your reader.

                              For example:
                              Bearden’s collage art,
                              such as The Block, 1971,
                              effectively combines
                              elements of cubism to
                              create a visual narrative
                              about the realities of an
                              African-American urban
         Body Paragraph(s):
              Analyze the work
 What elements of art are most prominent or
  important to the artwork? Consider first how
  each important element functions alone.
     Example: Line and color play equally important
     roles in Kandinsky’s Composition IV.
 Analyze how the most important elements fit
  together to create the piece. Consider how the
  elements fit together.
     Example: Seemingly random patches of brilliant
     yellow, red, and green arch around a large hill-like
     shape of bright blue. Narrow, black lines dissect the
     picture plane and define the shapes random colors.
 Read the image as you would read text. Begin on
  one side and work across, relating what you see, or
  find the most important part of the image and read
  from that point. Do not skip around.
 Describe some important details and/or discuss the
  materials or methods used to make the artwork.
 Summarize the overall appearance of the piece.
 Try to avoid interpretation.
 Push the point
 Be convincing
Now for some practice
             Gallery Walk
 There are eight(8) stations set up around the
  room -- one for each element of art used in
  formal analysis
 In groups, you will move from one station to
  the next, answering the questions associated
  with that station for each work of art.
 Feel free to brainstorm in your groups,
  however, know also that you will not have
  much time to answer and rotate.
The Artwork
       QuickTime™ and a
are neede d to see this picture.   Raphael
                                   Madonna, Child, and
                                   St. John the Baptist
                     QuickTime™ and a
               are need ed to see this picture.

Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night (1889)
             QuickTime™ and a
       are neede d to see this picture.

Agesander, Anthenodoros, & Polydorus;
   Laocoon & his Sons (approx. 40 BC)
      QuickTime™ and a
are need ed to see this picture.

  Frank Gehry, Disney Concert Hall (1991)
 Piet Mondrian
 Composition I
(20th Century)         QuickTime™ and a
                 are neede d to see this picture.
       QuickTime™ an d a
are need ed to see this picture.

                                   Auguste Rodin
                                   The Thinker
                                   Albrecht Durer
                                   Four Horsemen of the
      QuickTime™ and a
are neede d to see this picture.
        Artist unknown
Christ the Pantocrator
        (12th Century)

                               QuickTime™ and a
                         are neede d to se e this picture.
Olympic Stadium, Beijing (2008)

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