Formal analysis of work of art Instructions
You are required to produce a formal analysis of a work of art chosen by the instructor. The work of art you will formally analyze is available for download
Describe the work of art using the formal analysis terms and concepts. The terms and concepts used for a formal analysis can be found in the handout l Grave stele of Hegeso, from the
Dipylon cemetery, Athens.
Pentelic marble, Athens, National
1.49 x 0.92m, c. 400 BCE
The visual analysis of artistic form.
1. In art, an object’s shape and structure, either in two dimensions (for example, a figure
on a surface) or in three dimensions (such as statue).
medium (pl. media)
1. a liquid (e.g., oil or water) with which pigments are mixed to make paint.
2. the material or form used by an artist, composer, or writer : oil paint is the most
medium for glazing.
The path of a moving point made by a tool, instrument, or medium as it moves across an
An area that stands out from its surroundings because of a defined or implied boundary
because of differences of value, color, or texture.2
The relative degree of lightness or darkness. The characteristic of color determined by its
lightness or darkness of the quality of light reflected by the color.2
The visual response to different wavelengths of sunlight identified as red, green, blue,
on’ having the physical properties of hue, intensity, and value.2
✓ hue: chromatic distinctiveness of color
✓ intensity: saturation or purity of color, pure color, or mixed with a neutral or other
color ✓ value: relative light or dark of color
The surface character of a material that can be experienced through touch or the illusion
The interval, or measurable distance, between points or images; can be actual or
Other terms that can be useful when analyzing a work of art formally:
The design or arrangement of parts in a whole grouping that creates a feeling of
or equality. 1
Dominance: A condition that occurs when one or more compositional elements
visual field is emphasized and becomes more visually prominent than the others. 1
Focal Point: A compositional device emphasizing a certain area or object to draw
the piece and to encourage closer scrutiny of the work. 3
The association of size relative to a constant standard or specific unit of measure related
human dimensions. 2
Questions to consider asking when using formal analysis
What is being emphasized? How is it being emphasized?
What does the artist use to create emphasis? Line, shape, color?
How does the artist use color?
Is there a pattern or rhythm to the work of art?
Is there an overall harmony or unity to the work? Do the elements seem connected
Does the work evoke an emotion? How does the artist achieve this effect?
What is the format of the work, vertical or horizontal? Is it a large- or small-scale
What type of texture is seen in the work of art? Does the work seem rough or
What indication of space is inherent in the work of art? Does the artist create an
depth in the work? How is this achieved?
Basic Visual Concepts and Principles, Allschlaeger and Busic-Snyder, 1 ed.
Art Fundamentals: Theory and Practice, Ocvirk, et al. 11 ed.
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