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What Are the Four Steps of Art Criticism by Edmund Feldman?

Edmund Feldman, the Professor of Art at the University of Georgia, created a four steps method of art criticism that is very easy to apply. These four steps include:

  1. Description.
  2. Analysis.
  3. Interpretation.
  4. Judgment.

Moreover, these steps answer the following questions correspondingly:

  1. What can be seen in the artwork?
  2. What relationships exist with what is seen?
  3. What is the content or meaning, based on description and analysis?
  4. What is your evaluation of the work, based on the description, analysis, and interpretation?

All these steps are interrelated and connected. The process of art criticism moves from the objective to subjective, from description to judgment.

There exist about fifty caves with thousands of wall paintings inside in France and Spain. The common picture is the animals that varied from very common to rare species that were hardly ever hunted. Chauvet, one of the ancient caves, contains the oldest pictures on the walls that are famous for their realism, transmitting the desire of the artist to imitate the actual appearance of the animals. Sayre claims that “from earliest times, human beings could choose to represent the world naturalistically or not, and the choice not too closely imitate reality should not necessarily be attributed to lack of skill or sophistication but to other, more culturally driven factors.” (Sayre, 409) The technique that the author used in his paintings has not been found in other cave paintings and makes the pictures unique.

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Example of the 4 Step Feldman Method of Art Criticism

  1. Description. The name of the piece of art is Horses facing one another. It is a charcoal drawing on the rock. Size (length) of it is 89 cm of the large horse. In the cave, its located on the panel of the horses. The age period is Aurignacian.
  2. Analyses. The four horses occupy a small recess. The use of the fingers for mixing and spreading charcoal is a unique technique that used the creator of the picture. “The artists have given the animals a sense of volume by using gradations of color – a technique not found in other cave paintings.” (Sayre, 409) His aim was to emphasize outlines and depict shading to the heads. The picture depicts the importance of the definite animals for that era. In this picture, we see the horses – one of the main animals for that epoch.
  3. Interpretation of my own understanding of the picture on one of the walls of the cave is in the following four lines of my poem:

The horses are facing each other.

Desiring to live together,

Alone was a horse, without a mother,

At last, have found the brother and father.

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Horses Facing One Another, Aurignacian Period

This piece of art is proof of the art evolved over the period. It transmits the deep idea of the creator that takes its beginning in the Aurignacian period. The use of charcoal or pigment helped us to determine the date of the picture. We are able to understand the importance of the horses for that period due to this piece of art. Besides, the relationships between the animals also can be traced. This creation transmits the coloring of the era by means of the plot and way of painting. It shows us how ancient people used different materials for transmitting information from epoch to epoch. The author achieved his intent to share the main idea of the picture by the depiction of the plot and the way of it. His perspective was to make the posterity aware of the period he lived in.

Analysis of Fruits of the Earth by Frida Kahlo

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