Choose one artist from the following list

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Sculpture Art Criticism Paper
Choose one artist from the following list:

  • Constantin Brancusi

  • Henry Moore

  • Barbara Hepworth

  • Lynn Chadwick

  • Umberto Boccioni

  • Bruce Beasley

  • Jesus Moroles

  • Naum Gabo

  • Katarzyna Kobro

  • Jean Arp

  • Isamu Noguchi

  • David Smith

  • Jacques Lipchitz

  • Joan Miro

  • Alexander Archipenko

  • Louise Nevelson

  • Magdalena Abakanowicz

  • Alice Aycock

  • Antony Gormley

*Select a sculpture that is abstract or non-objective for your art criticism.

*You must include a photocopy or print of the sculpture. Print it large on the first page with your name, class section, and date. Label the sculpture with the credit line: the artist’s name, title, medium, date, size, location, and cite the source of the image. To cite the source of the image, either list the website or the title of the book, author and page number.

*The second page should consist of your art criticism of the selected sculpture. Write one paragraph for each art criticism step. Your paper must be one-full page, 12 pt. font, double-spaced with 1 inch margins. Include only your name on the second page.

DUE: ____________________

FOR GRADUATION PROJECT: see the additional handouts for the requirements to pass the graduation project.
Websites that may be helpful: (lists of websites and info for the IMC catalogs)

Art Criticism Worksheet
Step I. Description: (“Right There” / What do I see?)

Title of Work: _____________________________________________________________________

Artist: ___________________________________________________________________________

Medium: _________________________________________________________________________

Date: ____________________________________________________________________________

Size: ____________________________________________________________________________

Location: _________________________________________________________________________

CITE SOURCE OF IMAGE (Website or Book): __________________________________________

Type of Sculpture: freestanding, relief, kinetic, or installation: ____________________________

realistic, or non objective or abstract _____________________________________________

Carefully describe what you see. What art elements (line, plane, shape, form, color, value, texture, space) are prominently used? If representational, list the objects, people or places in the work of art and where they are located. If non-objective or abstract, focus on the elements of art in the work (line, plane, shape, form, color, value, texture, space). Questions you may ask yourself include: Are the lines or planes thick or thin? What kinds of shapes are found? How many hues are there? What type of texture is present? Where are these elements located? Explain clearly and objectively what you see as if you were describing it to someone who can’t see it. __________________________________________________________________________________







Step II: Analysis (“Pulling It Together” / How has the artist used the principles of design to organize the elements of art?) Use the chart below to help you formulate your thoughts. What are the first elements to “jump out” at you? Find that element and draw a line to the principle that describes how it is being used. Put each “match” into sentence form on the next page.

Art Elements: visual symbols (building blocks) to make art

Principles of Design: how the elements are organized

  • Line: path of moving point

  • Plane: surface areas

  • Shape: two-dimensional

  • Form: three-dimensional

  • Color: reflected light (hue, value, intensity)

  • Value: lightness or darkness

  • Texture: how surface feels

  • Space: area around and within objects

  • positive space: object (figure)

  • negative space: empty area around object (ground)

  • Repetition: element used again and again

  • Movement: sense of action

  • Rhythm: visual tempo (movement by repeating elements)

  • Balance: equalizing the visual elements

  • symmetrical: mirror image

  • asymmetrical: unlike objects that feel balanced

  • radial: elements come out (radiate) from a central point

  • Emphasis: make one part stand out (dominant over others)

  • Proportion: size relationships (one part to another)

  • Contrast: conflicting or opposing elements

  • Unity: wholeness or oneness

  • Variety: differences

Now put each “match” into sentence form. How is that art element organized by that particular principle of design? Remain objective and do not include personal feelings, opinions, or judgments yet. These first two steps of art criticism are objective.




Step III: Interpretation (“Artist and Me” / What is the artist trying to communicate?) Explain or tell the meaning, story or mood you think the artist is trying to convey. What adjectives come to mind as you look at it? How does it make you feel? What does it make you think? This step, along with step 4, asks you to offer your subjective (personal views) based on the data you collected in the first two steps.




Step IV: Judgment (“On My Own” / Is this a successful work of art?) Here you will determine the sculpture’s degree of artistic merit. When you look at the sculpture what aesthetic theory(s) do you bring to your critique?

  1. IMITAITIONALISM, focuses on realistic representation.

  2. FORMALISM, places emphasis on the composition and design qualities in the artwork.

  3. EMOTIONALISM, requires that a work of art must arouse a response of feelings, moods, or emotions in the viewer.

To fairly judge the work, you should consider the artist’s intentions. For example, it would be unfair to use the theory of imitationalism if it is an abstract piece, because the artist’s goal was not to make it realistic, but perhaps was more concerned with arousing an emotional response.

I feel that this sculpture is a success (or) failure because…. (Clearly explain and defend your decision. Use at least two of the three aesthetic theories listed above) __________________________________________________________________________________



NOTE: If you find a professional critique of the art work and want to include a quote, you may do so, but it must be cited using MLA format parenthetical documentation within the paper and a works cited page at the end. Bonus points may be offered if this is successfully integrated into the paper.


In addition to the one full page art criticism response, you must include research about the biography of the artist and a final conclusion paragraph. Your paper must be two full written pages. The overall format for your paper is the following:

First Paragraph: Introduction with biographical information about the artist. Include information about the art movement and style of work the artist is known for. Include at least 5 significant facts about the artist’s life and work. Include a thesis statement to transition into an art criticism about one work of art. Your thesis should summarize who or what you are researching and why. For example, Alexander Calder’s The Y created in 1960 is just one example of his many mobiles. With its delicate balance of shapes and movement it provides an interesting example of the kinetic sculptures for which Calder is known. (See attached information on writing a thesis statement.)

Second Paragraph: Step 1 of art criticism, description.

Third Paragraph: Step 2 of art criticism, analysis.

Fourth Paragraph: Step 3 of art criticism, interpretation.

Fifth Paragraph: Step 4, judgment.

Sixth Paragraph: Conclusion. Write an overall conclusion reflecting on what you learned and thought about this artist. How may this artist and the art work inspire you and your work?

* Use at least 2 sources. Cite your sources. You must correctly do this in order to pass the project. Include a works cited page. Make sure you cite any quotes or paraphrases with parenthetical documentation in your report. If you use any info word-for-word, put it in quotes and cite the source; otherwise, paraphrase and cite the source correctly. Include other research from respected critics who have written about the art work, if possible. Use the NP Writing Guide to assist you. If you plagiarize, you will fail.

*The paper must be typed, 12 point font, double-spaced, one inch margins, and at least 2 full pages (not including header with name). Include photocopy or print-out of sculpture with label.

*The entire paper must be submitted to by the due date or before.  

DUE: ___________

If this project fulfills your graduation project, you must also do a presentation for the class.

PowerPoint Presentation (See the PowerPoint template on my webpage to assist you.)
Scan or download 5 or more high-quality images of the work of the sculptor and create a PowerPoint presentation. Label each image with its credit line: the title, date, medium, size, and citation of the source you found it in. If you need to resize images, drag from a corner handle to not distort them. Use only good quality, high-resolution images.

  • Your presentation should include an introduction with biographical information on your artist and an in-depth art criticism of one work (same one as in your paper). You may bullet key points on each PPT slide, but don’t copy your entire written paper. You need each image to be a large size so people can see it clearly. You may use your paper as a reference for the presentation, but don’t just read from it. Make eye contact with your audience and project your voice.

  • End the presentation with a conclusion (as done in your paper).

  • If you quote or paraphrase a source, include the citation on the PowerPoint slide. It is okay to list the website URL on the PPT slide.

  • Include a final PowerPoint slide as your “works cited” page.

  • Save your PowerPoint presentation in your h:Drive and in my hand-in folder on the i:Drive. Title it with the artist’s name and your last name.

PPT DUE: _____________________

Presentation Date: ______________

Biography of an Artist: Use this worksheet to guide your research.

YOU MUST INCLUDE in your paper the art movement and style the artist is known for and you must explain this art movement and its main characteristics.

Note: Cite sources as you compile info. YOU MUST USE AT LEAST TWO SOURCES.

Name of Artist: ______________________________________________

Date of Birth: _______________________Date of Death: ______________

Place of birth or nationality: ______________________________________

1. For what kind of artwork is the artist known? (modeling, casting, carving or assemblage). Explain.

2. How have the experts described this artist’s most important style of work? Style could include the way they use a particular technique, subject, composition, etc.

3. Describe the major art movement this artist is a part of or is responsible for founding.

4. What was the time and culture like when the artist created the work?

5. What were you able to discover about the artist’s family and childhood that influenced his/her work?

6. What kind of education did the artist receive in art and other subjects?

7. What other events, circumstances or influences were important in the artist’s development?

8. Describe some of the most important accomplishments of this artist.

As a transition from the biography into the art criticism, write a thesis statement to explain the art work that you are about to explore in-depth.
What is a Thesis Statement? (from:

Almost all of us—even if we don’t do it consciously—look early in an essay for a one- or two-sentence condensation of the argument or analysis that is to follow. We refer to that condensation as a thesis statement.

Why Should Your Essay Contain a Thesis Statement?

  • to test your ideas by distilling them into a sentence or two

  • to better organize and develop your argument

  • to provide your reader with a “guide” to your argument

In general, your thesis statement will accomplish these goals if you think of the thesis as the answer to the question your paper explores.

A good thesis statement will usually include the following four attributes:

  • take on a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree

  • express one main idea

  • assert your conclusions about a subject

(For more info go to or for tips on how to write a thesis statement.)

For example, Alexander Calder’s The Y created in 1960 is just one example of his many mobiles. With its delicate balance of shapes and movement it provides an interesting example of the kinetic sculptures for which Calder is known.

WORKS CITED PAGE: You need at least TWO sources.
Information from NPHS library’s webpage (click on bibliography):

Online Bibliography Tools:

fill-in-the-blank forms help you format your citations

  • NoodleBib (MLA, APA)

  • KnightCite (MLA, APA, Chicago)

  • EasyBib (MLA)

  • BibMe (MLA, APA, Chicago, Turabian) - registration required

Parenthetical Documentation

In the body of your paper, there are several ways to indicate which of your sources you are citing for a quote or idea. You need to specify the source (by author's name, or if there is no author, by title) and the page number(s). You may work the information into the flow of your sentence, or you may place it in parentheses.

  • Works with a named author:

    • Some observers have stridently suggested that the sky is falling (Little 37).

    • Chicken Little stridently suggests that the sky is falling (37).

    • In her analysis, Chicken Little urgently claims, "The sky is falling!" (37).

    • "The sky is falling!" (Little 37).

  • Works with no author:

    • The possibility of the sky falling has made newspaper headlines recently ("Sky Falling?").

    • The blogosphere has been buzzing with speculation regarding this point (Falling Sky Net).

  • Works with a corporate author:

    • Research confirms these observations (Committee for the Study of Stratospheric Descent 117).

    • Research by the Committee for the Study of Stratospheric Descent confirms these observations (117).

OWL guide to in-text (parenthetical) documentation
The full MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th ed.) and the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) are both available on reserve at the Circulation Desk in the IMC.

For more info on plagiarism and how to avoid it, look at:

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