food for thought

  1. The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls. Pablo Picasso
  2. Art is not what you see, but what you make others see. Edgar Degas
  3. No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist. Oscar Wilde
  4. To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist. Schumann
  5. The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity. Walt Whitman

April 11, 2024

8. The Art Review


  • art magazines, newspapers of regional, national, international circulation
  • journals devoted to different art forms
  • radio + television broadcasts
  • the Internet (including blogs)


  • the general public; educated, experienced readers, not necessarily art connoisseurs; people who are interested in art and possess some knowledge and/or intuition about art; people who expect to learn something new about art, or just see art from different perspectives
  • the members of the artistic discourse community
  • undecided people (as to whether to visit or not an exhibition)
  • people who missed the exhibition, or are unable to visit it, because of its distant location or lack of time and who are counting on the intelligent writing of the art reviewer to get an idea about a specific art event

Communicative purposes:

  • to inform the public about a current, or a just-concluded artistic event
  • to promote an artist, an exhibition (gallery or museum, why not?)
  • to offer the audience an evaluation of the show/exhibition (as personal, but expert opinion)
  • to competently describe the most representative works
  • to competently interpret the meanings of the works, by offering the necessary evidence to support interpretation (from within and outside the work; iconographic + iconological interpretations) -- the previous purposes are those of art critique
  • to convince/persuade the public that the effort of visiting the exhibition is worthwhile, or, on the contrary -- similar to advertorials
  • to persuade the readers to become art exhibition goers/expand the art public
  • to educate oneself and the audience; develop artistic taste; fight against bad taste -- the last two purposes coincide with art education' purposes


  • art critics, art historians, professional writers, journalists, philosophers (aestheticians, art theorists), authors of TV and radio series and programs, bloggers, church people, etc.
  • must have(s): enough experience to offer reliable evaluations; honesty; analytical, open mind; writing experience (offer that amount of information the audience needs; provide the right amount of scholarly insights without getting into too many boring details; maintain the reader's interest by varied rhetorical devices and discourse strategies); knowledge of the different (artistic) ideologies; knowledge of the art market.

Size: rather short, concise (500-600 words)

Move pattern and discourse strategies:


  1. catching the reader's attention by using the appropriate rhetorical devices (e.g. a rhetorical question, a paradox, a figure of speech)
  2. offering specific information about the exhibition (when - the period; where - country, town, gallery, museum)
  3. offering some information about the artist(s) (a very short biography)

Move II (WHAT; developing a controlling idea about the exhibition)

  1. offering a general picture of the show and a first evaluation
  2. different discourse strategies:
  • the historical approach of the works (chronological)
  • an unpopular opinion
  • an analogy
  • what one expected vs. what one got
  • a comparison (between works of the same artist, of different artists, between styles)
  • the first impression (initial impact on the viewer)
  • the strength/originality of the artist
  • a question (either rhetorical or one that will be answered in the following move)
Move III (transition)
  • ensuring the coherence of the text
  • relating the previous information to the following
Move IV (reviewing works)
  • analyzing artworks
  • offering partial evaluations
  1. describing + interpreting +/- evaluating work 1
  2. describing + interpreting +/- evaluating work 2, a.s.o.
Note: only the most appealing works are to be taken into consideration (the most representative of the artist/for the show; the ones that the critic liked best, or, on the contrary, disliked)
  • partial evaluations of the works are made according to some aesthetic criteria (implicit or explicit)
  • are usually positive, or holding some reservations; when the lack of value is quite obvious, evaluations are negative
  • rhetorical strategies include: avoiding ambiguity and clearly stating the value (using qualifiers and quantifiers- e.g. overstatements -hyperboles), or, on the contrary, cultivating ambiguity for the sake of politeness (e.g. understatements - litotes = saying too little); irony and rarely sarcasm.
Move V (concluding)
  • offering a final, on-the-whole evaluation of the exhibition
  • convincing the audience of the value of the show
  • persuading the audience to visit the exhibition
  • trying to predict the future development of an artist's work, based on the current show (speculating about future developments)
  • implicitly persuading collectors to buy/or not some works

1. Find an art review. Give its title. Do you consider it a positive or a negative review on the whole? Why? Which are the positive aspects, and which are the negative ones? Do you have a clear image of that exhibition based on this art review? Do the interpretations given to the analyzed works help you understand the artist's themes?

2. Choose an exhibition you have recently seen and try to write your own art review of that exhibition.  
 Deadline: APRIL 24

March 29, 2024

7. The Research Paper

main communicative purpose: to contribute to the existing research effort in the field
secondary purposes:

  • to persuade readers that the proposed thesis (opinion, idea) is right (expository research paper)
  • to persuade readers that the proposed thesis is the correct/better one as opposed to another thesis (argumentative research paper)
  • to survey the most valid and convincing of  the existing research on a subject (descriptive research paper)
main differences between the critical essay and the research paper: the research paper is not merely a personal opinion about a subject (like in the case of the critical essay); it is the result of thorough scientific investigation, of many readings on the researched subject; it is the result of conscious and objective choices of the previous findings; it is longer in size; it requires the correct documentation of all the sources used for investigating the subject.

instances of research papers:

the seminar paper, different papers throughout the MA and PHD programs, the graduate course thesis, the M.A. thesis/dissertation, the doctoral dissertation, the feature / scientific article (in specialized magazines, bulletins, journals, on the Internet), the lab/scientific report, the scientific lecture

standard move pattern:

expository research paper:

Move I: Introducing the present research

Step 1: Introducing the general topics and the specific content
Step 2: Introducing research findings so far
Step 3: Stating the thesis / proposing new findings/approach
Step 4: / Move II: Transition: Presenting the points of proof (at least 3)

Move III: Developing points of proof

Step 1: Developing point of proof 1
Step 2: Developing point of proof 2
Step 3: Developing point of proof 3

Move IV: Concluding by reinforcing the thesis

Move V: (not optional) Works cited

argumentative research paper:

Move I: Introducing the topics

Move II: Acknowledging opposition

Step 1: Acknowledging counterthesis
Step 2: Acknowledging counterpoint 1
Step 3: Acknowledging counterpoint 2
Step 4: Acknowledging counterpoint 3

Move III: Stating the thesis

Move IV: Transition:

Step 1: Acknowledging disagreement with counterpoints 1,2,3
Step 2: Proposing constructive arguments 1,2,3

Move V: Developing refutations and arguments:

Step 1: Developing refutations 1,2,3 (why the existing counterarguments are not valid, or why they are now superseded)
Step 2: Developing constructive arguments 1,2,3 (insisting upon why the proposed constructive arguments are valid, or why they are better, newer, a.s.o. , than the existing counterarguments)

Move VI: Concluding upon the validity of the thesis

Move VII: Works cited

Specific discourse strategies (besides those employed by the critical essay): 

  • inserting other opinions (other authors) on the same subject
  • synthesizing previous research
  • assuming the voice of authority (with rights and obligations)
  • commenting upon sources (by agreeing or disagreeing with them)
  • paraphrasing
  • quoting
  • acknowledging to sources (notes + bibliography)

Task 1: Read the research paper Marina Abramovics--Between Art and the Extreme by Roxana Andonie.

What type of research paper is it? Which were the previous findings on this subject the author had access to and presents in her paper? What is the new insight she proposes here? What do you think about her use of sources? Are they relevant? Are they well-acknowledged?

Rhythm 0

Rhythm (series)

Deadline for task 1: April 5

March 14, 2024

6. The Compare and Contrast Essay

general term - comparison

more specific meanings - showing similarities = comparing

- showing differences = contrasting

communicative purpose(s): depending on the specific intention of the writer, we can speak about:

  • descriptive comparison - to show similarities and differences between two artworks
  • expository comparison - to show similarities and differences between two issues in order to support a personal thesis
  • argumentative comparison - to show similarities and differences between two issues in order to support a personal thesis that is expected to encounter considerable opposition

standard move-pattern(s): two patterns: the "block" pattern and the "point by point" pattern

the "block" pattern

Move I: Introducing the theme and the compared artists
Step 1: Setting the stage (the general context in which the two terms intended for comparison belong)
Step 2: Introducing the artists + works + theme(s)
Step 3: Stating the thesis and points of proof (if they exist in the writer's intention)
Move II: Transition: announcing intended organization (the block pattern)
Move III: Developing description/analysis/points of proof/constructive arguments
Step 1: artist/artwork A: elements 1,2,3 / points of proof 1,2,3 / constructive arguments 1,2,3
Step 2: artist/artwork B: elements 1,2,3 / points of proof 1,2,3 / constructive arguments 1,2,3
Move IV: Concluding upon the basic differences and/or similarities (by showing to what extent these have served the intended communicative purpose of the essay)
Move V (optional) Works cited

the "point by point" pattern

Move I: Introducing the theme and compared artists (see above)
Move II: Transition (announces the "point by point" pattern)
Move III: Developing description/analysis/points of proof/constructive arguments

Step 1: Describing/analyzing element 1 / elaborating on point of proof 1 / offering constructive argument 1 for work/artist A

Step 2: Describing/analyzing element 1 / elaborating on point of proof 1 / offering constructive argument 1 for work B

Step 3: element 2 / point of proof 2 / constructive argument 2 for work A

Step 4: element 2 / point of proof 2 / constructive argument 2 for work B

Move IV: Concluding

Move V (optional) Works cited

Task 1:

Read the text Two Edges of the Subconscious Reality in the Twentieth-Century Art by Olga Bersan.

 What pattern is there used? Which are the elements being compared? What discourse strategies are employed by the writer?

Task 2:

Read the essay
Uniform Pigment and Abstract Paintings, by Laura Oprea. What move pattern is here employed and how exactly does it work? Which are the compared elements?

 Deadline: March 28

February 26, 2024

5. The Argumentative Essay


"to argue"= to present reasons for or against a thing; to dispute; to debate.

"to persuade" = to convince; to induce somebody to believe.

communicative purpose:

- to present, explain, clarify, and illustrate a viewpoint (the author's) (so far, the goals are identical with those of the expository essay) + to persuade the reader that personal views are more valid than another person's viewpoints

move pattern:

Move I: Introducing the issue in contention.

Step 1: introductory remarks to identify work + artist + issue in contention

Step 2: acknowledging counterthesis and counterpoints (the other person's viewpoints)

Step 3: providing specific details (who, what, when, where)

Step 4: stating the thesis (personal viewpoints - in one complete, unified statement about the issue in contention, precise enough to limit the issue, but general enough to ask for support, not too obvious, and showing the changes proposed to the counterthesis)

Move II: Presenting counterthesis and counterpoints

Step 1: Restating the counterthesis and enlarging upon it (in the introductory move, we have just formulated it; now we have to show the reader that we bothered to understand what the other person's thesis really claims; therefore, we use our own words to explain what we understood and to convince our reader that we know exactly what the other opinion is)

Step 2: Presenting/restating counterpoint 1 (using our own words to show what the first point of proof used by the other person was)

Step 3: Presenting/restating counterpoint 2

Step 4: Presenting/restating counterpoint 3

Move III: Arguing thesis and providing evidence/proof

Step 1: Restating our own thesis and enlarging upon it (we have to make sure the reader fully understands what we claim)

Step 2: Providing constructive argument 1 and evidence/proof to support it (the weakest) to fight against counterpoint 1

Step 3: Providing constructive argument 2 and evidence to support it (stronger) to fight against counterpoint 2

Step 4: Providing constructive argument 3 and evidence to support it (the strongest) to fight against counterpoint 3

Step 5: Disagreeing with counterpoint 1 (refutation 1)

Step 6: Disagreeing with counterpoint 2 (refutation2)

Step 7: Disagreeing with counterpoint 3 (refutation 3)

Note: We can place side by side (mirror) our constructive argument and our disagreement with the other person's counterpoint in the same step by convincing the reader that our argument and evidence to support it are correct and are better than the other's.

Move IV: Concluding by enhancing the validity of the thesis

We conclude by reminding our reader (in other words) what we claimed and by suggesting that our arguments were (far) more convincing than the other person's. We must always remember to be polite! We must always remember that our simple claim of truth (our truth) is not convincing without providing proper arguments and evidence. After all, it is the reader who decides who is more effective!

Move V: (optional) Works cited.


Task 1: Read the text Fashion Art: To BE or Not to Be, by Maria Hritcu. Pay attention to the thesis, to the counterpoints and constructive arguments; which of them convinces you most? Which side do you tend to take? Why? Express your own viewpoints on these matters (provide your own thesis, arguments, and evidence). 

DEADLINE March 17              

November 09, 2023

4. Course 3: The Expository Essay

COMMUNICATIVE PURPOSE: to theorize/speculate about:

-causes + /- effects
-particular meanings
-artist's choices
-possible developments, etc

Theorizing = performing an inferential type of mental activity (moving from particular items to general ideas), whose result is a thesis that must be supported by several points of proof

DISCOURSE STRATEGIES (that can be used when developing points of proof):

  • explaining viewer's reactions
  • formal analysis
  • comparing works/artists/features
  • historical/anecdotal narratives
  • exemplification
  • quoting/paraphrasing
  • paradox, etc


MOVE I: introducing the subject, thesis, list of points of proof

Step 1: Introducing the subject (title of work, artist, context of creation)

Step 2: stating the thesis: one complete, unified statement, limited to one aspect only, general enough to ask for support, defensible, not too obvious

Step 3: stating the points of proof (2-3) intended to be used in order to support the thesis

MOVE II: developing the points of proof

Step 1: developing the first point of proof

Step 2: developing the 2nd point of proof

Step 3: developing the 3rd point of proof

MOVE III: concluding by evaluating the measure in which the points of proof have demonstrated the thesis

MOVE IV: Works cited (whenever one uses bibliography)

Task 1.    Comment on the way the theses and the points of proof were formulated and developed in the two texts we have read in class (1. The African Influences in Brancusi's Work by Paul Stoie  and 2. Idea for Sale by Oana Boca). Which of them appears to you more convincing and why?
Task 2. Try to formulate a thesis and a list of points of proof on a subject of your choice.

Deadline: December 20


The Beginning of the World


The First Cry 

The First Step

November 06, 2023

3. Course no. 2: The Critical Essay. The Formal Analysis

The artistic discourse community:

- a socio-rhetorical group of people who share common goals directly related to art; certain mechanisms of communication (eg. art magazines); specific vocabulary, grammar, semantics, rhetoric; specific GENRES

- genre: type of texts that share the same communicative purpose

The Critical Essay = a genre whose communicative purpose is to offer a personal opinion on a specific subject. Therefore we can consider it subjective writing. Nontheless, subjective does not mean total lack of evidence for what we claim.

The Formal Analysis
- a type of critical essay

- to analyse = to take a thing apart; to decompose it in order to see what its components are and how they work together as a whole => to analyse a work of art = to deconstruct it into smaller elements such as : subject-matter; formal elements; principles of design; style; purpose, etc.
- purpose: to describe, interpret and/or evaluate a work of art, that is, to analyse a work of art
- prerequisite: direct access to the real work or to a good reproduction
- each such important element is then analysed in order to see what role it plays in the whole

- the standard move-structure of a text belonging to the subgenre of formal analysis:

MOVE I: Introducing the work and the artist

  • step 1: identifying the work (some details about the title, author, theme, subject-matter, medium, dimensions, period of creation, current location, purposes of creation)
  • step 2: identifying the artist: only that biographical information considered relevant for the work analysed

MOVE II: Transition:

- usually offers a personal first response to the work

MOVE III: Analysing de-constructed elements:

  • step 1: analysing first element : describing the first element + interpreting the first element + /- evaluating the first element (e.g. a character in the work)
  • step 2: analysing element 2 (e.g. the principle of the perfect symmetry)
  • step 3: analysing element 3 (e.g. the dominating colour)

MOVE IV: Concluding:

- offering a final interpretation +/- evaluation of the whole work, based on the previous analyses


- study the texts:

1. The Marriage of Giovanni Arnolfini and Jeanne Cenami by Jan van Eyck, written by Erwin Panofsky

The text you are supposed to read is really Panofsky's text (which can be found in the book Anda-Elena Cretiu: Discourse and Communication in Visual Arts, Casa Cartii de Stiinta, 2014, or in 

Genre-Structured Discourse in Art Texts, Presa Univ. Clujeana, 2003) (in our library). The links below are only commentaries on the text and may help you better understand it. 

Erwin Panofsky and his interpretation of art woks
another version of the text

2. Ten Lizes by Andy Warhol by Anca Teodora Pora

- comment on the analyses made by the authors, that is, on the descriptions and interpretations and/or evaluations offered; did they convince you?; can you find other possible interpretations to those elements?; are there other elements you would have chosen instead? which? why?

3. Access the video material below. What elements are there analyzed? Although no interpretations are assigned to the formal elements analyzed here, can you think of 2-3 partial interpretations and an on-the-whole one? 

DEADLINE: November 13

October 05, 2023

2. BASIC TAXONOMY (course one continued)

Here are the most important terms we will be using throughout this year's study; please be sure you get well acquainted with all of them:

  • THEME: the general content of the artwork (general aspect/subject) (e.g. the landscape)
  • SUBJECT-MATTER: the sum of identifiable objects, persons, places, references in the artwork (e.g. the rosegarden)
  • MEANING (or, CONTENT): is revealed through interpretation; sometimes the title may be of help, but most often than not, it is revealed through careful iconographic and/or iconological interpretation
  • ICONOGRAPHY: the overt or hidden symbolism in the artwork, rendered through images (signs, symbols)

  • ICONOLOGY: the meaning revealed through the study of the cultural, social, historical background of the artwork (through literary, historical, etc., texts)
  • DESCRIBING ART: the verbal pointing to the features; a means of gathering the support for interpretations; it concerns the subject matter, the most expressive formal elements; the principles of design, etc.
  • ANALYSING ART: explaining how the described elements get their meanings, the artist's choices; inferring meaning; evaluating technique
  • INTERPRETING ART: a most important and complex activity; the arriving at the meaning of the artwork by employing different strategies of interpreting based on the information gathered through iconographical and iconological insights
  • EVALUATING ART: determining how good the artwork is, according to some criteria, either clearly stated, or implied, while providing reasons and evidence for judgments
Task: Watch the video. What is the role of iconography, and how does it work?

Deadline: Oct 23