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Discussion on Artistic Criticism (Coursework Sample)


The task here was to write a criticism of a work of art of own choice such as film, drama, music, painting, literature, sculpture, or architecture. The criticism had to be done using the three types namely; descriptive, interpretative, and evaluative criticism. The task did not need any additional research, such as background research on the artist or the school of art he/she represents. The work needed to be a five-paragraph essay: Introduction, one paragraph each for the Three Types of Criticism (descriptive, interpretive, evaluative) and Conclusion.


Artistic Criticism
Criticism in art work in broad term is used to refer to the act of judging the artistic work (Barrett, 2). However, the critics describe, interpret, evaluate and theorize the artist’s work. According to Martin artistic criticism exists in three forms which allow the critic to do the above mentioned activities in criticism. These forms include; descriptive, interpretive and evaluate criticism (49-56). Descriptive criticism deals with giving the form and its characteristics to the artistic work. It helps in increasing the concentration of the critic on the work of art. Interpretive criticism dwells on the content of the artistic work. It helps in understanding how the description is translated into content. In evaluative criticism, the artistic work is prescribed or advantages are weighed and judged.
In this critic work, I am going to perform criticism on Leonardo de Vinci’s last supper painting. Descriptively, the number three grouping of Jesus’ disciples represents the trinity. At the background, three windows are visible which also represent the number 3 representation. Jesus’ carving from this painting also forms a triangle –giving number 3 concept too. The colouring of the clothes also attracts the attention of the eye though the painting may seem to be immobile. From the painting also Leonardo puts the subject Judas, the betrayer in a partial painting. In descriptive criticism there also exists the relationship among the detail, region and structure. From Leonard’s painting, a detail relationship exists between Jesus’ triangular shape brings a contrast to that of triangular shape of the disciples too. The blue and the red colours on clothes both for Jesus and His disciples also contrast. Regional relationship exists on the white tablecloth, the wall and the dark painting of the whole room. Given the contrast that exists between the rectangular and the triangular shapes brings in a contrast creating a structural relationship.
Interpretively, Leonard’s painting contrasts the content that the last supper was held on a mountain rather than a room. At the background, peaks of a raised area are seen. The roofed room contradicts the information that the last supper took place outside the walls of Jerusalem. This may be by far sight be supported by the white colour on the painting. The rectangular carvings and paintings seen on the upper part of the room contrast the content whether the feast was held in a church, synagogue or a mere building. The painting and carving represents another form rather than a church or synagogue. The form of sitting from this painting appears to be on one side rather than around the table. The painting also contrasts the content that each disciple was confirming from Jesus whether he will be the one to betray him. Here, the apostles on the right seem to be confirming amongst themselves unlike those on the right hand sides. On the other side, the central location of Jesus easily differentiates him from the rest of the apostles. More vividly, the content of bread and wine is contrasted in this painting. All the content is in the same colour making it hard to understand the content of last supper presented on the painting. However, some paintings on the table give an insight that some supper was taking place. The light in the building too contrast the fact that the event took place at night though the dark painting on the upper part of the room takes this away. The lack of a painting to indicate source of light rather than the three windows is a contrast to the time the event took place.
As earlier mentioned, evaluative criticisms provides for the information on how good the artistic work is. Thus evaluating Leonardo’s paint work, some merits can be given to it and some credit must be withdrawn. The painting easily enables us to determine the number of apostles Jesus had. From the use of number 3 and the triangles easily determines the number of the apostles. The use of the triangle shapes easily locates and identifies Jesus at the central part of the table. The paints on the table clearly and easily help in determining and differentiating this last supper from other feasts that Jesus shared with his disciples. The fade painting on one of the disciples (Judas Iscariot), easily, makes us understand who Jesus was talking about when it came to the question of who was to betray Him. From the feast’s name (supper), Leonardo makes easily derives his content that this was a night feast from the dark paint that appears at the upper part of carving. Due to its static nature, the painting lacks the communication of the other events that took place before the question of betrayal was raised. The voice content also is left behind as only symbols of conversation taking place are obser

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