What Is the Process of “Visual Analysis” and Why Is It Important?
Works of art may be more subtle but they usually are also trying to get the viewer to believe something. How can you analyze visual images?
The purpose of a visual analysis is to recognize and understand the visual choices the artist made in creating the artwork. By observing and writing about separate parts of the art object, you will come to a better understanding of the art object as a whole. A visual analysis addresses an artwork’s formal elements—visual attributes such as color, line, texture, and size. A visual analysis may also include historical context or interpretations of meaning. Be sure to read the assignment carefully to decide which elements of visual analysis your professor expects you to include. Some professors will look for a formal analysis alone; others will expect you to frame your formal description in terms of historical information.
This is especially important when exposing hidden ideologies that may motivate seemingly neutral images (Henry M. Sayre, 2005).
Whether in photography, sculpture, or painting, the theory of formal analysis will help students to compose their works of art as professional artists would.
Suzanne Hudson and Nancy Noonan-Morrissey, The Art of Writing about Art (Belmont, CA: Thomson Learning, 2002).
Henry M. Sayre, Writing about Art (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2005).