Online College Courses for Credit

How to Critique a Work of Art

How to Critique a Work of Art

Author: Michele Zimmerman

Write a summative essay critiquing a piece of art using Feldman's Four-step Critical Method

Describe elements by listing all factual information with elaborate detail

Analyze the interactive organization of elements of design with the principles of design

Interpret the message, mood, and meaning based on evidence acquired from descriptive facts, and analytic organization.

Evaluate technique, composition, format, media choices/execution relevant to the artist's intention at communicating their concept.

Learn to describe the elements of line, shape, space, value, color, texture and form and to analyze with the principles of balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, proportion, repetition, and variety.  Reference a primary source for the artwork and determine the artist's intention by forming interpretations based on evidence from descriptive and analytic exploration.  Form an opinion as to whether the work is successful at communicating their idea.  Pose advice suggesting ideas of how to help the artist communicate their idea more successfully if necessary.

See More

Try Sophia’s Art History Course. For Free.

Our self-paced online courses are a great way to save time and money as you earn credits eligible for transfer to many different colleges and universities.*

Begin Free Trial
No credit card required

37 Sophia partners guarantee credit transfer.

299 Institutions have accepted or given pre-approval for credit transfer.

* The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit®) has evaluated and recommended college credit for 32 of Sophia’s online courses. Many different colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs.


Early Sunday Morning. 1930. Edward Hopper

Getting Started

Click on the link beneath the detail of Early Sunday Morning to view the entire image.  Begin with describing the factual details that you see in the painting.  Refer to the template example to guide you and then complete the description section on your worksheet.  Read the Primary Source document on Early Sunday Morning to provide you with more facts and insight into Edward Hopper's work and with this painting.

After describing the painting, move to Analysis.  Refer to the template example to guide you and then complete the analysis section on your worksheet.  Follow the same process for Interpretation and Evaluation.


Early Sunday Morning Primary Source

Introduction to Edward Hopper and a synopsis of Early Sunday Morning followed by its significance.


Four Step Critical Process Graphic Organizer

Four Steps defined in an organizer on page 1. Work space for students to practice critique phases on page 2.


Recorded Critique of Early Sunday Morning in Four Stages

After using the template to critique Early Sunday Morning, take time to listen and look at each of the four phases of a critique posted below.  As you learn new information about the painting, add those details into the appropriate section of your graphic organizer.

Description of Early Sunday Morning by Edward Hopper

During this video, facts about Edward Hopper's style and formatting of his Early Sunday Morning painting are documented. Elements of design, specifically line, shape, value, color, and space are also described.

Analysis of Early Sunday Morning by Edward Hopper

During this recording of analysis, attention is given to how Edward Hopper organized the elements described in the previous phase of the critique. During this second phase of the critique, I have specifically addressed how Hopper organized his painting using the principles of balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, repetition, and variety.

Interpretation of Early Sunday Morning by Edward Hopper

In this recording, I have interpreted Early Sunday Morning by referencing evidence from previous phases of the critique. Here in this third phase, I have shared my perception of what I felt Hopper intended to communicate in relation to the message, mood, and meaning for this work of art.

Evaluation of Early Sunday Morning by Edward Hopper

During this final phase of the critique, I have recorded my opinion of the success of Hopper's painting, Early Sunday Morning. I have referenced my other observations while describing, analyzing, and interpreting the work. Although I did not suggest anything for improvement in this painting, I did mention previously, some things that Hopper did to revise his work. I often find areas I would like to revise in my own work and will mention them during this part of the critique process.