Mingei Museum

After you have chosen the work that you like, write down the name of the place where you viewed the work, the artist’s name, title of the work, date, medium, and any background information on placards on walls or pamphlets.
Then you begin your description of the work:

– What is the subject of the work? What event is depicted (the title can help you, but you may need further research to get all the details of the narrative. For now, get as much as you can through observation).

– How is the work represented? Is it realistic, idealized, naturalistic, stylized, abstract, non-representational, etc?

– Is this a large or a small work? Does the size affect the impression this work made on you?

– Then describe each and every single detail of the work. It has to be so specific that someone who has never seen the work can reconstruct it from your written report. In your description discuss color, lines, shapes, what figures are portrayed, and how the overall composition affects your impression of the work.

– What kind of texture does the work have? Is it rough, smooth, etc. Can you see the brushstrokes? If this work had a different texture, how would it change the ‘feel’ (PLEASE DON’T TOUCH AND ONLY POINT AT ART FROM AT LEAST A FOOT AWAY) of the work?

– How has the artist put the composition together: what do you see in the foreground, middle ground, and background?

– What types of lines are portrayed and how to they affect the overall impression of the work (movement, stability, excitement, drama, etc.).

– What do you see from left to right and from top to bottom?

– Does the work appear 3-dimensional or 2-dimensional?

– For sculpture is it in the round or relief, and does that affect how your impression of the work?

– Is what you see in the work evenly distributed or are figures/objects/colors lumped on one side of the work?

– What colors does the artist use and how are they distributed?

– What visual impact do the colors have?

– Is there a focal point within the work? Does the artist draw your attention to a particular aspect of the work and what affect does that have on you?

– How does the artist use light in this work? Is it evenly distributed, or is it dramatic with stark contrasts between light and dark?

– Is three-dimensional perspective shown in this work? If yes, how? If no, why not, do you think?

– Does the frame around the work make a difference in the effect it has on you?

– Does the space where it is exhibited make a difference in the effect it has on you?

– Where is the ‘best’ place to stand to see this work? Near or far, at an angle (from the other room sometimes even gives you a really different look). Try different heights (standing in front of it, kneeling down).

– From what angle did the artist approach his subject? Are you at eye-level with the subjects/objects in the work? Are you higher or lower?

– If a woman is represented in the image, is she done so in a favorably manner (in your opinion)

– If the work was created by a woman, is it apparent when viewing the work (in your opinion).

– What overall impression does the work make on you?

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