The moon and half dome


The moon and half dome

The Family Luzzara, 1953 Italy Paul Strand


PURPOSE: To analyze and write about a photograph as a work of art.

EXPLANATION: We “process” and evaluate visual art very, very quickly, often without regard for the details of composition and meaning. This assignment will build on your understanding of the elements of visual criticism by providing you an opportunity to react and write about a work of photographic art. You are encouraged to read about the artist but in your paper concentrate on a critical discussion of the work–not a biography of the artist.

ASSIGNMENT: Write a short paper based on a photograph from the following website: The paper must be no shorter than 630 words and must include the following:

  1. A detailed DESCRIPTION of the work.
  2. A thoughtful and reflective INTERPRETATION of the work.
  3. An evidence-based EVALUATION of the work.
  4. A COPY of the photo you chose to evaluate, attached at the end of the paper
  5. A correct CITATION for the source where you found the photo, and for any other sources you consulted to write the paper

Please refer to the attachment “Elements Of Criticism” for further information.


  1. Description = pure description of the object without value judgments, analysis, or interpretation; a list or inventory of inarguable traits. It answers the question, “What do you see?” The various elements that constitute a description include:
    1. Medium of work
    2. Size and scale of work
    3. Elements or general shapes within the composition
    4. Description of visual axis–whether vertical, diagonal, horizontal, etc.
    5. Relationships between shapes, e.g., large and small, overlapping, etc.
    6. Description of color and color scheme = palette
    7. Context of object: original location and date
  1. Interpretation = establishing the broader context for this type of art. It answers the question, “Why did the artist create it and what does it mean?” The various elements that constitute interpretation include:
    1. Main idea, overall meaning of the work.
    2. Interpretive Statement: This is what the image makes me think of…
    3. Evidence: What evidence inside or outside the artwork supports my interpretation?
  1. Evaluation: Judging a piece of work means giving it rank in relation to other works and of course considering a very important aspect of the visual arts; its originality. It answers the question, “Did the artist create something good?”
    • Is the artwork successful?
    • Criteria: What criteria do I think are most appropriate for judging the artwork?
    • Evidence: What evidence inside or outside the artwork relates to each criterion?
    • Judgment: Based on the criteria and evidence, what is your judgment about the quality of the artwork? (Base this on information presented in the description and interpretation).
SKU: write-a-short-paper-based-on-a-photograph Category: