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A Short Guide to Writing About Art

Statue - Short Guide to Writing About Art

The book, A Short Guide to Writing About Art by Sylvan Barnet, discusses the whys and how’s of writing about art. In the book, Barnet states that “writing is a way of learning.” (1) Writing about art helps you see art in a unique way. By writing about art, you are teaching people about it as well. “An essay on art is an attempt to help someone to see the work as you see it.” (Barnet, 1)

Barnet states that “to respond sensitively to anything and then to communicate responses, we must have some understanding of the thing.” (1) The “thing” he is referring to is art. You need to have some understanding of the piece of particular art you are writing about in order to write about it successfully. For example, in order to write an essay about Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, you may have to have knowledge of Van Gogh’s background as well as the painting techniques he used.

According to Barnet, analysis is an essential part of writing about art. When you write about art, you present a criticism of the particular piece of art you are writing about. That means you are analyzing all of its elements. Every piece of famous art out there has multiple parts for analysis. These can include:

  1. Context

This includes:

  1. The period of history that the piece of art was created in as well as what was going on during that time. Was there a war going on? What was the political and sociological situation of the place where the artist lived at the time?

  2. The life of the artist itself.

  3. The setting that the piece of art was originally displayed in.

  1. The expressions and poses of the subjects in the artwork.

  2. The material that is used to create the work of art. For example, if you are writing about a sculpture that was created in the 18th Century, you could write about the type of clay that was used. You could also go over limitations on materials.

  3. The source of the artwork. For example, a painting depicting Jesus would have the Bible as its source.

When writing about art, you are letting your intended audience know about your observations and feelings about the art you are writing about. This is why you need to know about art before writing about it successfully, so that you can gain these feelings about it.

You need to successfully communicate your emotions about it to your intended audience. It helps to write about art that you are somehow drawn to in the first place. Now, in a classroom setting, you may not have a choice of what art to write about. But, if you do get a choice, write about art that has affected you emotionally in some way, and write out those feelings. Then, organize those words containing those feelings around an intricate analysis of the artwork, and you will have a successful art essay.

You can also turn to Prescott Papers for help in writing about art for class. We’ll hire quality writers who have expertise in Art History and experience in writing about art critically to write a custom art essay for you. You can also order tutoring services with Prescott Papers if you are having a hard time learning about art history. Our services are completely confidential with fast and reliable support. Overall, whether you use Prescott Papers or not, there is always a lot to write about art.

Works Cited

Barnet, Sylvan. “Writing About Art.” A Short Guide to Writing about Art. 4ed. New York: Harper, 1993.

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