To analyze a piece of art, one needs to have an open mind and an inquisitive nature to do it. This is because whereas some arts are straight forward, others have hidden meanings that need to be critically analyzed so as to understand it. Analyzing a piece of art helps to determine the purpose of the art and help to understand the information it tries to bring across without words. When analyzing any piece of work, the form, technique and material are the central key factors (Mamiya and Kleiner 3). This paper will give an outline on how to analyze a given piece of art named ‘Tarantula Necklace with Red Drops’ by Kiki Smith created in 2008.

Elements and Design Principles

In any piece of art work, there have to be some elements and principles though the presence of some of this elements or principles will be more noticeable than others when analyzing an art work, one should be able to point out the outstanding elements in the piece of art being analyzed (Peter and Olsen 6).

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Art element includes the line, value, shapes, form, space, color and texture. The line is the art outline and the basic element in analyzing art work; they lead the eyes to analyze various compositions and they also create more shapes. Value is the tone of the design being analyzed; it determines the degree of darkness or light in the art and how contrast has been created between values. Shapes are formed by the outline of lines taking a particular form such as a rectangle, square or even undefined irregular shapes and geometric shapes.

The form defines the dimension of the art describing its width, depth and length. Design can also take the form of cylinders, balls, pyramids or even boxes. Space determines the spacing or the area between the objects. The spacing between the objects can be either too big or too small and this can affect how one views that object. Color defines space, lines, forms and shapes and further differentiates them. Different color shades helps to give a particular effect when analyzing the object.

Texture of the art is the feel of the surface of the art; it can be rough or smooth, a drawing can determine the texture of the object. The principles on the other hand integrate the elements of art. The principles include balance, contrast, movement, emphasis, pattern, proportion and unity.

Balance is created through the harmonious combination of the texture, shapes, colors and forms. Contrast is playing with some of the elements to hold the analyzer’s eyes and to guide them through the artwork and this helps to achieve movement. Movement leads the eyes to the emphasized areas. It is guided by contrasting shapes, colors or lines in the art. Emphasis is developed by the artist contrasting the colors, shapes and textures in order to direct your view to a particular part of the object.

Pattern is the repetition of forms or shapes across the piece work to achieve a particular pattern. The proportion is achieved when the sizes of the piece of work is perfectly harmonized. Unity is when all the principles have been harmonized; some artists deliberately fail to harmonize the principles if they want to create certain feelings of anxiety (Don 15).

Analysis Of An Art Work

The art work being analyzed is titled ‘Tarantula Necklace with Red Drops’ by Kiki Smith created in 2008. The art work depicts two necklaces, one with one red gem and the other with a spider as its pendant and three red gems.

The art has been done using free flowing curvilinear lines that forms a circular necklace creating a natural feeling in this art work. It also uses implied lines to form the spider in one of the necklace. The quality of lines in this art work is short and thin creating a feeling of intimacy associated with the necklace. The function of lines in this art work expresses the value of the necklaces. The cross-hatching in this art has been achieved by the intersecting lines that form the necklaces and they have been drawn too close creating a dark value. The contour lines create a circular outline of the necklace further forming a spider form pendant and lose hangings where the gems have been attached. The tenebrism of the art creates a dramatic illumination with its contrasting shades of light and darkness. The darkness is however dominant in the art.

The artist has used a realistic form in her piece of work. The function of the piece portrays class and sophistication therefore complimenting well with its form. The space between the objects is not very wide; it has a contrast of dark and light shade depicting a strong feeling associated with the art. The perspective in this art represents an intuitive kind of feeling that implies a sense of reality in the necklaces with gems. The artist further strikes a balance in her art there is a harmonious flow in the contrast shades of light and dark, the forms shaped and the texture strikes a very good balance. She further creates an emphasis to the spider pendant shape making it the focal point of the art.

She has successfully achieved this by the contrasting shades and forms that shape the spider. The sizes of the necklaces are also harmonized achieving the required proportion and its form scale. The circle lines on the necklace forms a rhythm in their repetition creating a harmonious form in the eyes. The artist has also harmonized all the principles thus achieving the unity of the art.


When analyzing art, one needs to put themselves in the mind of the artist by simply defining the art in order to get the meaning of the art. The ‘Tarantula Necklace with Red Drops’ analyzed above simply defines a woman of class. The shades are well mixed and contrasted to bring out the real sophistication.

One needs to have a mind that is both intuitive and inquisitive to be able to analyze the art in question. The intuitive mind helps to see more than just what is portrayed on the outside of the art and the inquisitive mind provides an answer to the intuition. One should be able to point out and identify the elements in the art. The outstanding elements should be clearly stated as the artist uses major elements such as lines. The principles on the other hand blends with the elements and are key in analyzing a piece of art. The core content in the art work should be able to interpret what the artist intends to say or portray using pictures upon analyzing.

Works Cited

Don, Charles. Mind in Art: Cognitive Foundations in Art Education. New York: Taylor and Francis e-Library, 2009.

Print. Mamiya, Cute and Kleiner, Frudes. Gardner’s Art Through The Ages. New York: Academic Press, 2001.

Print. Peter, Lukas and Olsen, Stein. Aesthetics and the Philosophy of art: The Analytic Tradition. London: Barnes and Noble Publishing, 1998. Print.


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