Art Analysis

An Art Analysis is the breakdown of the artistic elements in a painting to discover how it portrays meaning.

Rationale: Research demonstrates that making associations to familiar information helps understanding and retention. Analyzing art is an aspect of culture that many find daunting; practicing it will allow fluid analysis for later years.

Instructions: Identify a painting that draws on US history or describes the historical context of the time period that it was painted. Detail the painting name and artist name. Copy the painting by doing an internet search for it. Summarize the biography of the artist and a review of their work. In a half page, analyze the piece of art and explain how it relates to relevant history.

General Guidelines

· Select painting on relevance
· Apply learned knowledge
· Demonstrate knowledge of artist

Art Analysis Rubric


Art Analysis Example
Les Fetiches, by Lois Mailou Jones
Born in 1905, Dr. Jones was the second of two children of Thomas Vreeland and Caroline Dorinda Jones. As she grew the infatuation with painting became evident; “Every summer of my childhood, my mother took me and my brother to Martha’s Vineyard Island. I began painting in watercolor which even today is my pet medium." Jones soon became associated with the Harmon Foundation after moving to Washington and was a frequent participant in its exhibitions. After Dr. Jones achieved fame in France and Haiti, she married a Haitian artist named Louis Vergniaud Pierre-Noel.
Jones was highly motivated by the climate and the aftermath of the Harlem Renaissance which was clear in her early paintings. Les Fitiches was painted during her studies in Paris; however, its subject and style are closer to her early years as a painter of African American inspiration and appeal. She later went on to paint French landscapes, cityscapes, figure studies, and Haitian scenes. [1]
In Les Fetiches Jones portrays five African masks, a white pendant charm, and a standing, red anthropomorphic figure are skillfully depicted on a dark background. The painting seems to express through its masks the melding of cultures and the struggle for traditions to unify with modern industrialism. Monochromatic tones are used to create the ritualistic theme which is presented in Les Fetiches. The harmony of light and color pervades the entire composition, an achievement using techniques of the impressionist tradition.
The Harlem Renaissance was the time period, particularly, in the 1920s, that African Americans in and around Harlem (the neighborhood of upper Manhattan in New York City) experienced a flourish of literature and the arts. Notable writers include the poet Langston Hughes and the novelist Zora Neale Hurston. Other famous visual artists were William H. Johnson and Palmer Hayden.


[1] Taylor, Gregory. “African American History Through the Arts.” Coral Gables High School. (May 19, 2006)

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