How Do You Write a Visual Analysis in Art History?

Art|Art History

Writing a visual analysis in art history means closely observing the object or image that you are analyzing, describing its features, and interpreting its meaning. It is important to remember that a visual analysis should not just describe what you see, but interpret it.

The first step in writing a visual analysis is to carefully observe the artwork. Look closely at the elements that make up the artwork: line, color, texture, shape, form and space.

Consider how these elements create meaning and add to the overall aesthetic of the work. Think about how all of these elements interact with each other.

Once you have thoroughly observed the artwork, it is time to start writing your analysis. Begin by introducing the artwork and providing basic background information about it such as its title, artist, date of creation and medium used. This will help orient your readers so they know what they are looking at.

Next, describe the composition of the artwork in detail with references to elements such as line, color and texture. Explain how these elements contribute to its overall appearance and meaning by referring to specific details within the work itself. For example: “the bright reds in this painting evoke feelings of warmth and passion;” or “the sharp lines of this sculpture emphasize strength and power” etc..

After describing the physical characteristics of the artwork you should discuss its symbolic significance by evaluating how it relates to its historical context or any cultural associations it might have. Discuss any deeper meanings or messages conveyed by its content or style as well as if there are any metaphors used within it.

Finally reflect on what impact this work had on you personally or if there are any connections between this artwork and your own life experience that stand out for you.

Writing a visual analysis can be an incredibly rewarding experience that allows you to truly connect with an artwork on an intellectual level beyond simply appreciating it aesthetically. Through careful observation and thoughtful interpretation you can uncover hidden layers of meaning that may not be immediately obvious upon first glance but which ultimately add depth to your understanding of art history.


In order to write a successful visual analysis in art history one must carefully observe all aspects of an artwork before attempting to interpret it based on both personal reactions as well as historical context.