ARTH101 Study Guide

Unit 2: Who Makes Art – Process and Training

2a. Explain the meaning of both form and content

  • What are the components that belong to art's formal qualities?
  • What shapes the meanings we obtain from encounters with artworks?
  • How can we tell the difference between form and content in art?

Form and content are not just ways to analyze art, but are also used deliberately by artists to provoke specific responses in people. Artists might assume a common cultural background, so that the use of symbols will be instantly recognized by viewers. Or, they might use a specific processes to create the work to achieve a certain perceptual effect. Many artists are keenly aware of the material properties of the media they work with, and they understand both the objective qualities and likely subjective responses of the people who experience the work.

To review, read Form and Content.


2b. Describe the role of the critic

  • How do critics shape conversations around art?
  • What is the role of criticism in the understanding and appreciation of art?
  • What informs the opinions of critics?

In the social world of art, critics play an important role in shaping and refining the concepts used to talk about art precisely and in service of contemporary debates about art. Curators create prose to unify specific exhibitions, and historians trace the influences on art across time and culture, but critics are the ones who hone the concepts and arguments used by those who take part in the discourse of art. Critics debate the relevance of art, its cultural status, its quality, its meaning, and other aspects that are important to the conversations that happen around the world of art.


Art criticism is not only the performed by critics. Artists can also be a part of the 'game' of art criticism. Gabriel von Max's painting Monkeys as Judges of Art, 1889, satirizes the role of the critic in the art world. What do you think the artist might be saying about art criticism?

To review, read The Artistic Process.

Unit 2 Vocabulary

Be sure you understand these terms as you study for the final exam. Try to think of the reason why each term is included.

  • form
  • content
  • critics
  • art criticism