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Arts Toolkit

Arts Toolkit: Visual Arts Video Clips

How To Respond to a Work of Art



Martin Rollins, associate curator of school programs for the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, uses two works—Pieter Claesz’s oil painting Breakfast Still Life (1653) and Henry Moore’s sculpture Reclining Figure: Angles (1979)—to demonstrate the four-step process for responding to either a two- or three-dimensional work of art. Step 1 requires a description of the work while taking an inventory of facts about its appearance. Step 2 involves an analysis of this inventory of facts, breaking down the work into its basic elements and getting into the mode of the artist’s intent. In Step 3, the viewer interprets the work based on his/her developing understanding or an estimation of the artist’s intent. The final step involves a full evaluation of the work based on Steps 1 through 3.

Suggested Uses:

  • Use in conjunction with the “Responding to Art” section in the Arts Toolkit binder.
  • Use as a model of an instructional museum tour.
  • Use as a model for students so they can analyze other works (e.g., those found in the Kentucky Virtual Art Museum) in a similar fashion.


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