Here are some tips for doing this close-looking exercise yourself or with others:
- LOOK. Start by looking at the image for around 10 minutes. Don’t worry about writing anything down, yet – you just want to look at the art, first!
- DESCRIBE. Ask yourself what you’re seeing – are there figures present? How many? Is it a landscape or a portrait? Feel free to write your observations down. Be descriptive!
- FEEL. Think about how the artwork makes you feel. What does it remind you of? Why does it remind you of that? Use what you were able to see in earlier steps to here.
- INTREPRET. Finally, what do you think the artist is trying to convey?
It’s normal to leave with more questions than you started with!
Here are some observations about this image to get you started after you finish step 1:
- This work is in black and white.
- There are many figures fighting, but in the center, one masculine figure caresses the body of another.
Here are some more questions to help guide you during steps 2 and 3:
- What is going on in the setting?
- Does it feel calm or chaotic? Why?
- How would it be different if the figures had different facial expressions?
- How would you describe the colors, shapes, and lines?
- How would you describe the people in this work?
- What would it feel like to be inside of this artwork?
Image credit: Diana Mantuana, after Giulio Romano, ca. 1547–1612 (Italian), Menelaus Holding the Body of Patroclus, 16th century, engraving, Gift of Mrs. Robert Petteys, CU Art Museum, University of Colorado Boulder, 95.09.01. Photo: Jeff Wells / CU Art Museum.