A visual analysis essay is definitely an entry-level essay sometimes taught in senior school and early university courses. Both communications and art history students use visual analysis to know art as well as other visual messages. In our article, we will define the term and provide an in-depth guide on the best way to look at a piece of art and write a visual analysis essay. Stay tuned before the end for a handy visual analysis essay example.

What Is Visual Analysis?

Visual analysis could be the process of taking a look at a piece of visual art (painting, photography, film, etc . ) and dissecting it for the artist’s intended meaning and way of execution. Sometimes, works will also be analyzed for historical significance and their impact on culture, art, politics, and the social consciousness of the time. This informative article will coach you on how to execute a formal analysis of art.

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A visual analysis essay is really a type of essay written mostly by students majoring in Art History and Communications. The process of visual analysis can be put on painting, visual art, journalism, photo-journalism, photography, film, and writing. Works in these mediums tend to be meant to be consumed for entertainment or informative purposes. Visual analysis goes beyond that, concentrating on form, themes, execution, and the compositional elements that define the work.

Classical paintings certainly are a common topic for a visual analysis essay for their depth and historical significance. Take the famous Raphael painting Transfiguration. At first glance, it really is an attractive image showing a famous scene from the Bible. But a more in-depth look reveals practical painting techniques, relationships between figures, heavy symbolism, and an extraordinary choice of colors by the talented Raphael. This deeper look at a painting, a photograph, visual or written art may be the process of visual analysis.

Formal Analysis of Art: Who Does It?

A lot of people who face visual analysis essays are Communication, English, and Art History students. Communications students explore mediums such as theater, print media, news, films, photos — basically such a thing. Comm is simply a giant, all-encompassing major where visual analysis is synonymous with Tuesday.

Art History students study the entire world of art to understand how it developed. They do visual analysis with every painting they look it at and discuss it in class.

English Literature students perform visual analysis too. Every writer paints a graphic in the top of their reader. This image, like a painting, can be clear, or purposefully unclear. It could be factual, to the stage, or emotional and abstract like Ulysses, challenging you to search your emotions instead of facts and realities.

How to Conduct Visual Analysis: What to Look For

Whether you study journalism or art, writing a visual analysis essay will be a frequent challenge on your own academic journey. The primary axioms can be learned and put on any medium, regardless of whether it’s photography or painting.

In the interests of clarity, we’ve chosen to share painting, the most typical medium for the formal analysis of art.

In analyzing a painting, there are many essential points that the writer got to know.

  1. Who's the painter, and what era of art did they participate in?
    Classical painters depict scenes from the Bible, literature, or historical events (like the burning of Rome or the death of Socrates).
    Modernists, on the other hand, have a tendency to subvert classical themes and provide a different method of art.
    Modernism was born as a a reaction to classical painting, therefore analyzing modernist art by the standards of classical art would not work.
  2. What was the painter’s purpose?
    Classical painters like Michelangelo were usually hired by the Vatican or by noble families. Michelangelo didn’t paint the Sistine Chapel simply for fun; that he was paid to do it.
  3. Who is the audience?
    Artists like Andy Warhol tried to interest the masses. Others like Marcel Duchamp made art for art people, looking to evolve the art form.
  4. What is the historical context?
    Research your artist/painting thoroughly before you write. The points of analysis that can be placed on a Renaissance painter can not be applied to a Surrealist painter. Surrealism is definitely an artistic movement, and understanding its essence is the key to analyzing any surrealist painting.

Familiarizing yourself with one of these essential points will give you everything and context, you need to create a good visual analysis essay.

But visual analysis can go deeper than that — especially when working with historic items of visual art. Students explore different angles of interpretation, the interplay of colors and themes, how the piece was made and various reactions, and critiques of it. Let’s dig deeper.

A Detailed Process of Analyzing Visual Art

Performing a formal analysis of art is just a fundamental skill taught at entry-level art history classes. Students who study art or communications further develop this skill through the years. Not totally all types of analysis apply to every work of art; every art piece is unique. When performing visual analysis, it’s essential to bear in mind why this kind of work of art is very important in a unique way.

Step 1: General Info

To begin with, identify the next necessary information on the work of art and the artist.

  • Subject — who or what does this work represent?
  • Artist — who is the writer of this piece? Refer to them by their last name.
  • Date and Provenance — when and where this work of art was made. Could it be typical to its historical period or geographical location?
  • Past and Current Locations — where was this work was displayed initially, and where can it be now?
  • Medium and Creation Techniques — what medium was this piece designed for and why could it be important to that medium? Note which materials were found in its execution and its size.

Step 2: Describe the Painting

Next, describe what the painting depicts or represents. This section will undoubtedly be like an abstract, summarizing all of the visible areas of the piece, painting the image in the reader’s mind. Listed below are the dominant features to consider in a painting:

  • Characters or Figures: who they've been and what they represent.
  • If this is a classical painting, identify the story or theme depicted.
  • If this is an abstract painting, pay attention to shapes and colors.
  • Lighting and overall mood of the painting.
  • Identify the setting.

Step 3: Detailed Analysis

The greatest chunk of one's paper will focus on an in depth visual analysis of the job. This is where you go past the basics and look at the art elements and the maxims of design of the job.

Art elements deal mostly with the artist’s intricate painting techniques and basics of composition.

  • Lines — painters make use of a variety of lines ranging from straight and horizontal to thick, curved, even implied lines.
  • Shapes — shapes could be distinct or hidden in plain sight; note all of the geometrical patterns of the painting.
  • Use of Light — identify the origin of light, or perhaps the lighting is flat; see whether the painter chooses contrasting or even colors and explain the significance of the choice in terms of the painting.
  • Colors — identify how a painter uses color; which colors are primary, which are secondary; what is the tone of the painting (warm or cool? )
  • Patterns — are there repeating patterns in the painting? These could possibly be figures in addition to hidden textural patterns.
  • Use of Space — what kind of perspective is used in the painting; how does the artist show depth (if they do).
  • Passage of Time and Motion

Design principles go through the painting from the broader perspective; how the art elements are accustomed to create a rounded experience from an artistic and a thematic perspective.

  • Variety and Unity - explore how rich and varied the artists’ methods are and whether they develop a sense of unity or chaos.
  • Symmetry or Asymmetry - identify points of balance in the painting, whether it’s patterns, shapes, or use of colors.
  • Emphasis - identify the points of focus, both from a thematic and artistic perspective. Does the painter emphasize a specific color or element of architecture?
  • Proportions - explain how objects and figures interact to provide an expression of scale, mass, and volume to the overall painting.
  • Use of Rhythm - identify how a artist implies a particular rhythm through their techniques and figures.

Since each masterpiece of design is unique, be thoughtful where art elements and design principles you intend to discuss in your essay. Visual analysis does not limit itself to painting and may also be employed to mediums like photography.

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The Structure: Just how to Write a Visual Analysis Paper

It’s safe to make use of the five-paragraph essay structure for your visual analysis essay. If you are taking a look at a painting, take the most crucial aspects of it that be noticeable to you and discuss them in relation to your thesis. Structure it with the simple essay structure:

Introduction: An introduction to a visual analysis essay serves to provide basic home elevators the work of art and briefly summarize the points of discussion.

  • Provide a brief description of the painting: name of artist, year, artistic movement (if necessary), and the artist’s purpose in creating this work.
  • Briefly describe what is in the painting.
  • Add interesting factual statements about the artist, painting, or historical period to give your reader some context.
  • As in all introductions, don’t forget to include an attention-grabber to really get your audience thinking about reading your projects.

Thesis: In your thesis, state the points of analysis upon this work of art that you simply will discuss in your essay.

Body: Explore the work of art and all of its aspects at length. Refer to the section above titled “A Detailed Procedure for Analyzing Visual Art, ” which will comprise most of your essay’s human body.

Conclusion: After you’ve thoroughly analyzed the painting and the artist’s techniques, give your thoughts and opinions on the work. Your observations ought to be based on the points of analysis in your essay. Discuss how the art elements and design axioms of the artist supply the painting meaning and support your observations with facts from your essay.

Citation: Standard citation rules apply to these essays. Use in-text citations when quoting a book, website, journal, or a movie, and include a sources cited page listing your sources. And there’s no need to concern yourself with how to cite a piece of art throughout the text. Explain thoroughly what masterpiece of design you’re analyzing in your introduction, and refer to it by name in the body of one's essay such as this — Transfiguration by Raphael.

If you need a more detailed look at the classic essay structure, feel free to visit our 5-paragraph-essay blog

Learn From a Visual Analysis Example

Many YouTube videos are analyzing famous paintings like the Death of Socrates, which can be a fantastic art analysis example to put into practice. But the simplest way to understand the format and presentation is by taking a look at a painting analysis essay example done by a scholarly writer. Certainly one of our writers has penned an outstanding piece on Leonardo Da Vinci’s La Belle Ferronnière, which you might find below. Use it as a reference point for the visual analysis essay, and also you can’t make a mistake!