Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Art Critique
1. Begin by introducing the work: list the artist, title, date, medium and approximate size. “The Wave” by Alexander Harrison, 1185, oil on canvas, approximately 3.5’x 9’
FORMAL ANALYSIS: Remember, the formal elements are: line, shape, color, volume, space, light and texture.
2. Discuss the lines in the painting. Where are they located? What direction do they go? Are they straight or curved, thick or thin? How they direct your eye around the canvas? When you first look at the painting your eye is drawn to a distinct horizontal line that depicts the horizon over the water. There are also curved lines throughout the piece where the waves are located, many of which make up either the ripples over the sand or waves breaking on the shore. These curved lines are what move your eye from the horizon towards the water moving forward as the wave breaks and moves along the sand.
3. What shapes are present? Are they geometric or organic? Do they appear flat or voluminous? The shapes in this painting are all organic because all of the objects in the piece have no true form. For instance, the clouds in the sky are ever changing and the water is constantly moving. The shapes appear to be voluminous because you can see the movement in them and therefore you know they have depth.
4. Discuss the space in the painting (the area between or around formal elements placed on the canvas) Is the painting crowded with many formal elements or sparse with just a few. Remember, this is about formal elements placed on a canvas, not subject matter. The painting is a very open space containing few of the formal elements. Balance is one of the elements that are present though. It is balanced vertically because the wave is at an even height to itself creating balance from left to right. It also contains harmony because the colors work well together allowing your eyes to...
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