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Contextual - Historical Criticism: This approach seeks to understand a

literary work by investigating the social, cultural, and intellectual context
that produced ita context that necessarily includes the artists
biography and milieu. A key goal for historical critics is to understand
the effect of a literary work upon its original readers.

2. A. Formalism- The artists visual language consists of formal elements.
These create the aesthetic effects, and include line, shape, space, color,
light, and dark. The formal elements can be further specified to include
balance, order, proportion, perspective, medium, pattern, and rhythm.
Architecture and sculpture require added formal elements such as mass,
volume, and texture. The final arrangement of these items is the
composition, and each element contributes to the overall impression
created by the work.
An example of the use of the formal element color can be seen in
Picassos Blue Period painting called The Old Guitarist. According to
Laurie Schneider Adams, color can often be the most visually striking of
the elements. Simply from examining the ways color is used in our
language, it is impossible to avoid its emotionally associative quality.
This painting is monochromatic with the domination of blue, and thus a
depressive overtone. Aesthetic appeal is said to exist partially in the
relationship between mood created by the blue and the other formal
elements of the painting. The figure is thin and bony, though without
much sense of mass. He is composed mostly of downward curves, and
seems stretched and worn. The silvery light reinforces an eerie quality.
Formalist Criticism: This approach regards literature as a unique form of
human knowledge that needs to be examined on its own terms. All the
elements necessary for understanding the work are contained within the
work itself. Of particular interest to the formalist critic are the elements
of formstyle, structure, tone, imagery, etc.that are found within the
text. A primary goal for formalist critics is to determine how such
elements work together with the texts content to shape its effects upon
B. Psychological - Psychoanalysis is a complex methodology, which is
fairly controversial to some for its ever-flexible elements and what some
might call fictive results. However the appeal is also understandable,
integrated with aspects of Iconographic methods, Feminism, Marxism,
and Semiotics. It also deals with psychobiography, which examines an
artists psychological development as it relates to their art. The
underlying purpose of psychoanalysis is to deal with the unconscious
significance of works of art. This involves discussion of the work of art,
the artist, aesthetic response of the viewer, and the cultural context.
The appropriate historical beginning is with Freud. He was perfectly
aware of the cultural aspects of his exploration of psychoanalysis,
relating it to archaeology as early as 1896. As applied to works of art,
imagery is the active and joining factor. Dreams, daydreams, fantasies,
and neurotic symptoms all involve imagery, and psychoanalysis attempts
Freud believed the artists reason for creation did not involve the
seeking of beauty, form, or disinteredness. It was instead a desire for
gratification. Art in this way was to serve as therapeutic, capable of
offering both the artist and the spectator consolation and solace from a
troubled reality. From the words of Freud:
An artist is once more in rudiments an
introvert, not far removed from neurosis.
He is oppressed by excessively powerful
instinctual needs. He desires to win
honour, power, wealth, fame, and the love
of women; but lacks the means for
achieving these satisfactions.
Consequently, like any other unsatisfied
man, he turns away from reality and
transfers all his interest, and his libido too,
to the wishful constructions of his life of phantasy, when the path might
lead to neurosishe *the artist+ understands how to work over his
daydreams in such a way as to make them lose what is too personal
about them and repels strangers, and to make it possible for others to
share in the enjoyment of them
Freud took an interest in Leonardo da Vinci and developed theories
about him and his work in a book. He drew from documents telling of
Leonardos childhood. His biological mother was a peasant, but his
father married another woman who remained childless. After the age of
five, Leonardo lived in his fathers household with his stepmother and
paternal grandmother. Freud concluded that Leonard must have been
kept from his biological mother by his stepmother. Because of this,
Freud believed Leonardo formed as unusually desirous relationship to his
biological mother.
Using these conclusions and information, Freud analyzed Leonardos
painting Madonna, Child, and St. Anne. St. Anne is the representation of
Leonardos biological mother, who is separated from the Christ child
(Leonardo) by Mary (stepmother). St. Annes smile is envious of the
stepmother and blissful at the same time, as she is near her child.
Freud goes further to explain that Leonardo as an adult remained
abstinent, though latently homosexual, due to his sublimated desires.
He did not have the strength to finish most of his paintings because his
energy went to scientific investigation instead, which was a manner of
seeking a lost love object.
Psychological Criticism: This approach reflects the effect that modern
psychology has had upon both literature and literary criticism.
Fundamental figures in psychological criticism include Sigmund Freud,
whose psychoanalytic theories changed our notions of human behavior
by exploring new or controversial areas like wish-fulfillment, sexuality,
the unconscious, and repression as well as expanding our
understanding of how language and symbols operate by demonstrating
their ability to reflect unconscious fears or desires; and Carl Jung, whose
theories about the unconscious are also a key foundation of
Mythological Criticism. Psychological criticism has a number of
approaches, but in general, it usually employs one (or more) of three
An investigation of the creative process of the artist: what is the
nature of literary genius and how does it relate to normal mental
The psychological study of a particular artist, usually noting how an
authors biographical circumstances affect or influence their motivations
and/or behavior.
The analysis of fictional characters using the language and methods of
C. Biographical method stresses the importance of authorship. It
explores an artists life and personality in relation to their work. Social
and economic factors play a role, but are secondary. Based on texts
relating to the artists life, the artists presence can be identified within
their artwork.
Biographical Criticism: This approach begins with the simple but central
insight that literature is written by actual people and that understanding
an authors life can help readers more thoroughly comprehend the
work. Hence, it often affords a practical method by which readers can
better understand a text. However, a biographical critic must be careful
not to take the biographical facts of a writers life too far in criticizing the
works of that writer: the biographical critic focuses on explicating the
literary work by using the insight provided by knowledge of the authors
life.... [B]iographical data should amplify the meaning of the text, not
drown it out with irrelevant material.

3. A. Marxism is the most recent methodology to consider the economic
and social context of art. To a certain extent Marxism can be understood
as a reaction against formalism. Marxism began with Karl Marx in the
nineteenth century.

Marx believed that the exact cultural conditions an artwork was created
in would have to be reproduced for an accurate analysis. He opposed
the nineteenth century aesthetic of art for arts sake, as well as formal
approaches, since they failed to account for moral, social, and economic
factors involved in the making and selling of art.

As for the production of art, Marx focused on the artist as working class,
exploited by the ruling class. This he explored according to nineteenth
century capitalism. Because of such treatment, the artist is said to
become alienated from their own artwork as it stands as a commodity.
So, they can feel they have lost contact with a part of themselves.

Some Marxists exploring art took a heightened and particularly active
political position. From the Notebooks, 1935-39, of German playwright
Bertolt Brecht, one finds he felt imagery had a moral obligation to
convey a social message. He believed the wolves of his time were the
only ones with money enough to buy paintings, however, in the future
these paintings would still show what these men had been. And in that
way they could contribute to future change.

One of the most significant Marxist art historians is Frederick Antal. He
analyzed the Last Judgment scene in the Arena Chapel in Padua. The
frescoes in the chapel were painted for Enrico Scrovegni, the towns
wealthiest man because of his fathers usury. His father had been
consigned to hell by Dante for such behavior. So, Enrico used this
commission to ensure his own salvation.

GIOTTO di Bondone (b. 1267, Vespignano, d. 1337, Firenze) Last
Judgment (detail) 1306 Fresco, 1000 x 840 cm (full fresco) Cappella
Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua Below the cross, on the left, is the
dedicatory scene, in which Enrico Scrovegnikne

In the Last Judgment, Erico
is present in the painting.
He is known kneeling on the
side of the saved as he
presents a model of the
chapel to three angels.
Enricos gesture implies that
he is presenting a gift.

Antal reads this scene as a reflection of the rational humanism of the
time. This would explain why the chapel, also containing images of the
Passion, would not include some of the more spiritual scenes, such as
Agony in the Garden, the Temptation, and the Journey to Emmaus.
Tension is externalized instead of showing inner spiritual conflicts.

It is suggested that the style of the artist, Giotto, whose figures are very
solid and in obeyance of the laws of gravity, emphasize the rational,
human, and psychological.

Sociological Criticism: This approach examines literature in the cultural,
economic and political context in which it is written or received,
exploring the relationships between the artist and society. Sometimes it
examines the artists society to better understand the authors literary
works; other times, it may examine the representation of such societal
elements within the literature itself. One influential type of sociological
criticism is Marxist criticism, which focuses on the economic and political
elements of art, often emphasizing the ideological content of literature;
because Marxist criticism often argues that all art is political, either
challenging or endorsing (by silence) the status quo, it is frequently
evaluative and judgmental, a tendency that can lead to reductive
judgment, as when Soviet critics rated Jack London better than William
Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Edith Wharton, and Henry James, because
he illustrated the principles of class struggle more clearly. Nonetheless,
Marxist criticism can illuminate political and economic dimensions of
literature other approaches overlook.

B. Feminism has been one of the most effective methodologies
practiced. It became a significant movement in the 1970s. Gender has
become an essential element in the understanding of creation, content,
and evaluation of art. Feminists have been interested in topics expanded
beyond gender as well, finding kinship with aspects of Marxism and
Semiotics that stress cultural context. According to Griselda Pollock, to
be successful, Feminists need to be interested in revealing the biases of
art history as a whole and not just concerning women.

Feminists have been instrumental in recovering information about
contributions of women artists and patrons that have not received
deserved attention by previous historians. They have discussed the ways
women have been discriminated against as artists and art subjects. The
question has been raised Why have there been no great women artists?
So to dismiss this question, it has been essential for Feminists to provide
evidence of this discrimination as well as argue against the idea of inborn
artistic genius. Linda Nochlin pointed out that many women artists came
from artistic families or fathers who had trained them.

For much the same reason, Feminists believe crafts developed a status
below fine art because of their association with women. They stress
that gender has influenced this interpretation of history, not for
biological reasons, but those social and cultural.

With the beginning of the academy, with a very few exceptions, women
were excluded. It was not acceptable for women to have access to nude
models. So there could be no accurate anatomy study. And it is
legitimate, based on writing from the artists themselves, to say that
demands of the family ended many
artistic endeavors.

Feminists argue that women as art
subjects have either been shown as
passive or negative figures. Titians
Venus of Urbino is a perfect example of
the objectification of women through the
invite of a certain male gaze. The
beautiful woman has also been shown as a threat and corruptor. Frau
Welt on the exterior of Mainnz Cathedral in Germany is one such figure.
She is beautiful from the front, but her back is covered with sores and
ulcers, crowded with frogs and snakes.

On a more positive side,
attention has been brought
to patrons such as queen of
France, Jeanne dEvreux and noble woman Isabella
dEste. This attention also included artists such as
medieval nuns who were illuminators, Renaissance
and Baroque painters and sculptors, and Dutch
still-life painters.

There has been much question of the traditional canons. Prior to the
1970s, women artists were excluded from major art history survey
books. An example of the lessened seriousness and importance given to
female artists is the Portrait of Mlle. Charlotte du Val dOgnes. It is part
of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art collection, and was
attributed to Jacques-Louis David. The painting was hailed by critics as a
remarkable portrait. Later the work was re-attributed to artist
Constance Marie Charpentier. It suddenly acquired feminine attributes:
Its poetry, literary rather than plastic, its very evident charms, and
cleverly concealed weakness, its ensemble made up from thousands of
subtle attitudes, all seem to reveal the feminine spirit.

C. Gender Criticism: This approach examines how sexual identity
influences the creation and reception of literary works. Originally an
offshoot of feminist movements, gender criticism today includes a
number of approaches, including the so-called masculinist approach
recently advocated by poet Robert Bly. The bulk of gender criticism,
however, is feminist and takes as a central precept that the patriarchal
attitudes that have dominated western thought have resulted,
consciously or unconsciously, in literature full of unexamined male-
produced assumptions. Feminist criticism attempts to correct this
imbalance by analyzing and combatting such attitudesby questioning,
for example, why none of the characters in Shakespeares play Othello
ever challenge the right of a husband to murder a wife accused of
adultery. Other goals of feminist critics include analyzing how sexual
identity influences the reader of a text and examin[ing] how the
images of men and women in imaginative literature reflect or reject the
social forces that have historically kept the sexes from achieving total

D. Post modernism
Iconography is a methodology involving examination of the
subject matter of works of art. The focus is on content rather than form,
and some art historians have chosen to ignore form entirely in their
analyses. The members of the Warburg Institute are especially known
for their iconographic approach. The leading member was Erwin

Pankofsky divided Iconography into three levels. The first he called pre-
iconographic, or the primary level of subject matter. At the second
level, text underlies the image. These lead to the third, which provides
the intrinsic meaning of the image, taking into account time and place
where the image was made, prevailing cultural style or the style of a
particular artist, and the wishes of the patron. This level should involve
information from outside sources and texts.

To provide an iconographic reading of Te tamari no atua, by Paul
Gauguin, the pre-iconographic reading would start with the woman lying
on a bed with her eyes closed. A cat sleeps at her feet. Next to the bed
another woman is holding a baby, and just behind her is a winged figure.
Further into the background are animals under a shed.
The next step is recognizing the reference to the Nativity of Christ. This
is verified knowing that Gauguin spent the last years of his life merging
Christian scenes with his Tahitian subjects. Further exploration reveals
the cat at the foot of the bed to be a likely reference to Manets Olympia,
especially knowing that Gauguin kept a photograph of the painting in his
hut. The presence of the cat then associates the women on the bed with
prostitution. She was actually G auguins mistress, described as a
slovenly, lazy young woman of dubious moral character, by Gauguins
art student in Tahiti.

Semiotics involves the application of the science of signs, or semiology.
It has been divided into three art history methodologies, which include
Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, and Deconstruction (will be discussed
later). Semiotics assumes that all cultural expression is composed of

Deconstruction is a methodology formed to challenge modernist views.
It attempts to take apart worldviews associated with modernism, such as
equality, liberty, God, and self, claiming them to be intellectual
constructions rather than naturally present. This is elaborated to include
questions about the creators of the constructions, their motives, and
their purpose.