Sie sind auf Seite 1von 5


In order to be a good art critic, one must learn to use a vocabulary “chock full” of
adjectives that clearly express the TECHNICAL, CONCEPTUAL and
STYLISTIC traits of a work of art.

Technical words have to do with how the artwork was created and how the
individual elements (that is the stuff that creates the picture) are put together on the
picture plane (that is the surface it has been painted on).

You will need to use many TECHNICAL words in the DESCRIPTION of your
painting. Here are some to get you started:

Picture Plane: the plane that is in the foreground of a drawing or painting;

coextensive with but different from the objective surface of the work

Composition: The act or art of composing, or forming a whole or integral, by

placing together and uniting different things, parts, or ingredients.

Foreground: The part of a scene or picture that is nearest to and in front of the

Mid-Ground: The area of a scene that is in between the Foreground and


Background: The ground or scenery located behind something.

Contrast: To set in opposition in order to show or emphasize differences

Complementary: relating to or constituting one of a pair of contrasting colors that

produce a neutral color when combined in suitable proportions

Unity: An ordering of all elements in a work of art or literature so that each

contributes to a unified aesthetic effect.

Focal Point: a central point

Volume: The amount of space occupied by a three-dimensional object or region of

space, expressed in cubic units.

Color Scheme: a planned combination of colors; "the color scheme for this room
was determined by an interior decorator"
Monochromatic: Having or appearing to have only one color.

Analogous: Similar or alike

Triadic: A group of three.

Warm: the yellows and reds of the color spectrum, associated with fire, heat, sun,
and warmer temperatures; also called hot colors

Cool: the blues and greens of the color spectrum, associated with water, sky, ice,
and cooler temperatures; also called cold colors

Balance: A harmonious or satisfying arrangement or proportion of parts or

elements, as in a design

Rhythm: The patterned, recurring alternations

Perspective: The technique of representing three-dimensional objects and depth

relationships on a two-dimensional surface.

Shape: The characteristic surface configuration of a thing; an outline or contour.

Something distinguished from its surroundings by its outline.

Line: A thin continuous mark, as that made by a pen, pencil, or brush applied to a

Gesture: To show, express, or direct

Contour: The outline of a figure, body, or mass.

Pattern: An artistic or decorative design

Texture: The appearance and feel of a surface:

Proportion: A relationship between things or parts of things with respect to

comparative magnitude, quantity, or degree

Symmetry: Beauty as a result of balance, correspondence in size, shape, and

relative position of parts on opposite sides of a dividing line or median plane or
about a center or axis

Asymmetry: Lack of balance or symmetry.

Isolate: To set apart or cut off from others.

CONCEPTUAL words have to do with what may have inspired the artist to paint a
particular picture. This is the artist’s MOTIVATION:

Conceptual: Art that is intended to convey an idea or concept to the perceiver and
need not involve the creation or appreciation of a traditional art object such as a
painting or sculpture.

Emotional: Of or relating to emotion

Symbolic: Of, relating to, or expressed by means of symbols or a symbol.

Societal: relating to human society and its members

Metaphoric: expressing one thing in terms normally denoting another

Religious: Having or showing belief in and reverence for God or a deity.

Pictorial: Illustrated by pictures

Political: relating to your views about social relationships involving authority or


Spiritual: Relating to or having the nature of spirits or a spirit; supernatural.

Narrative: Consisting of or characterized by the telling of a story.

Nationalism: Devotion to the interests or culture of one's nation.

Historical: Based on or concerned with events in history.

Imaginary: Having existence only in the imagination; unreal.

The STYLE of a work of art is a general category befitting the artwork.

Realism: The representation in art or literature of objects, actions, or social

conditions as they actually are, without idealization or presentation in abstract

Photo Realism: an art movement in the 1960s in America, a reaction to

minimalism and abstraction. An extreme form of realism, where photographs are
projected on canvas and then painted to replicate.
Cubism: A nonobjective school of painting and sculpture developed in Paris in the
early 20th century, characterized by the reduction and fragmentation of natural
forms into abstract, often geometric structures usually rendered as a set of discrete

Pop Art: A form of art that depicts objects or scenes from everyday life and
employs techniques of commercial art and popular illustration.

Minimalism: A school of abstract painting and sculpture that emphasizes extreme

simplification of form, as by the use of basic shapes and monochromatic palettes of
primary colors, objectivity, and anonymity of style. Also called ABC art, minimal
art, reductivism, rejective art.

Impressionist: An artist, composer, or writer who practices or upholds the theories

of impressionism, originated in France between 1800-1900. A physical sensation;
effects of light and movement, “en plein air”. The Impressionists explored how the
paint could capture their sensory impressions.

Post Impressionism: 1880s to early 20th century, artists who communicated

emotion, structure, design, symbolic meaning and significant form- famous
painters in this time, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin.

Expressionism: A movement in the arts during the early part of the 20th century
that emphasized subjective expression of the artist's inner experiences. Artworks
demonstrated strong color, distortion, abstraction and social critique. Artists of this
time: Kollwitz, Kandinsky, Kirchner and Pail Klee

Surrealism: A 20th-century literary and artistic movement that attempts to express

the workings of the subconscious and is characterized by fantastic imagery and
incongruous juxtaposition of subject matter.

Formal: Having the outward appearance but lacking in substance

Renaissance: the rebirth, rediscovery, ambition and change. The development of

Western art and culture in the period in art between 1300 and 1600, primarily in

Classical: Conforming to the artistic and literary models of ancient Greece and
Rome, artists focused on ratio, symmetry and proportion.

Mixed Media: A technique involving the use of two or more artistic media, such
as ink and pastel or painting and collage that are combined in a single composition.
Abstract: an abstract genre of art; artistic content depends on internal form rather
than pictorial representation. Art that does not mimic, imitate or refer to anything

Abstract Expressionism: an art movement developed in NY after WWII, action

painters attempted to depict universal emotions through physical gestures in their
art. Jackson Pollack, de Kooning, R. Motherwell and M. Rothko are great
examples of artists from this time.

Modern: of or relating to a recently developed or advanced style, technique, or

technology. Avant-garde; experimental, an art movement in the first part of the 20th

The most important skill an art critic can develop is his/her use of appropriate
adjectives that pinpoint the TECHNICAL, CONCEPTUAL and STYLISTIC
attributes of the painting. Here are some to get you thinking. You will need many
descriptive words in the critical analysis of your painting.

dark light elegant somber

threatening impressive puzzling simple

sterile personal grand bright

intense depressing soft concrete

detailed loose tight pizzazz

thoughtful crisp open closed