How Works of Art Are Appreciated Using The Four-Step Process


Art appreciation is a procedure that is followed to make one aware of all the good and bad qualities that one sees, reads and hears about a work of art. It is a means of responding to works of art that are talking intelligently about a work of art and communicating knowledgeable about a work of art. Art appreciation involves a silent and deep thinking about the works of art. This would enable us to talk intelligently about the works of art.

There are four main stages or steps in art appreciation. These stages are followed in a sequential order for better appreciation of works of art. They are:

i. Identification of the work (title, artist, date, size, medium, location).

ii. Inventory of items in the work (naming and description of physical characteristics of items).

iii. Technical qualities (kinds of materials, tools, design/composition and styles).

iv. Interpretation (meaning of the work).

i. Identification of the work

• State what the work is, e.g. Leatherwork.

• State the title of the work, e.g. A clutch bag for an artist.

• State the name of the artist, e.g. Sharon Baah Acheamfour (If the artist is unknown, it should be stated that the artist is unknown or anonymous).

• State the date or period when the work was done, e.g. March 2013.

• State the size of the work, e.g. 40cm length × 20cm width × 5cm height.

• State where the work can be found, its location or who owns it, e.g. at the West African Examination Council in Kumasi or at the British Museum in London.

ii. Inventory of items in the work

• Name all the objects seen in the work and describe them, e.g. It has three parts with inner compartments for a sketch pad, pencil, ruler and an eraser. The outer flap has the inscription MY OFFICE and a Sankofa Adinkra symbol at the back of the clutch bag.

• State the characteristics of the items found in the work, e.g. The clutch bag is shaped like a pawpaw leaf. The natural marbled leather is used for the work and the Sankofa Adinkra symbol is embossed on the back of the clutch bag.

iii. Technical qualities in the work

• State the materials and tools used in the execution of the work, e.g. leather, adhesive, zipper, brooch, synthetic lining, punching tool, thread, mallet, soldering iron, scissors, Velcro, cutting knife, and brush.

• State the method or methods used by the artist, e.g. patchwork technique finished in crocheting. The artist also used embossing and soldering technique for the designing and writing of the inscription ‘MY OFFICE’.

• State the nature of the composition or design, e.g. there is balance and unity in the placement and arrangement of the embossed design and the soldered inscription.

iv. Interpretation of the work

• State the atmosphere created in the work, e.g. the dye used for the marbling of the leather was violet dye on cream natural leather. The interplay of dark and light shades on the leather used for the work suggests unity that exists between the diverse cultures in Ghana.

• Relate the items in the work to the cultural background of the artist or the work, e.g. the Adinkra symbol used in the work is typical of the Asantes of Ghana. Therefore it indicates that the artist may be an Asante from Ghana. The reason for the usage of the Sankofa Adinkra symbol which means ‘It is not wrong to pick ideas from the past’ is to serve as a reminder for the artist who would use the clutch bag to constantly check the items he puts in the clutch bag so as not to forget any important document or item. However, if he does forget, it will not be wrong for him to go back and fetch it.

• State the uses or functions of the work, e.g. the clutch bag will be used by the artist in keeping his drawing tools and materials.

Appreciation is very relevant in our lives. For instance, it helps us to assess and appraise works of art without passing judgment on them. Also, it deepens our understanding of works of art since the activity helps us to understand the philosophical meanings behind the works of art. Moreover, it makes us knowledgeable in the histories, techniques, tools, and materials as well as designs of the various Visual arts. In addition, it helps us to understand and appreciate the cultures of various groups of people thereby promoting friendship among people of varied cultures. Finally, it helps us to know various works of art as well as artists of different backgrounds.

Art appreciation must be encouraged in various educational institutions especially in the fine arts where there is a great pool of artistic productions that demand critical thinking of the design parts and their essence. This deepens the meaning and relevance of art in the society.

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