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Formal Analysis of Art

Formal analysis of art is based on organizing visual information relating to a certain art such as a painting. Various types of artworks that exist are created with a specific meaning that can be determined by analysing various elements of the art. One example of a form of art and architecture that emerged and grew between the 4th -14th century CE was the Byzantine art that was developed from the Byzantine Empire. This form of art was first used to develop Christian iconography where images were used as a strong tool to grow the Christian faith. Also, this form of art was also used by emperors to bring out their power and strength. Through the use of precious metals, carved ivory, lively paintings, and gold mosaics, the Byzantine artists were able to form a lasting legacy that can be traced from various museums and churches around the world. This paper gives a formal analysis of byzantine artwork based on the elements such as general impression, composition, pose, proportions, lines, and color among others.

Christ Pantocrator

Christ Pantocrator (6th century)

The first impression that one gets when they look at this painting is the picture of Christ. However, when coming up with this picture, various elements were combined to bring out the outer impression that an observer gets. The painting is characterized by a stable composition where a calm figure of Jesus is captured while lifting his right hand as a sign of blessing. The figure almost fills the entire frame and combined with his direct gaze, it compels an observer to fixate their eyes on the picture. Dark lines of his hair and the thick lines that create a halo around his head that draws attention to his face. Dark and bright colors have been combined to give a clear distinction of images captured in the picture such as the bible and various parts of his body such as the hands and the face. All these elements add up to an image of Christ holding a holy book and lifting his right hand as a sign of blessing (The Art Story).

Barberini Ivory

Barberini Diptych (c. 527-565)

This piece of art artwork comprises of a sculpture and at the central part captures a muscular horse and an emperor who has attained victory. Around him are three smaller figures and behind him is a defeated barbarian (The Art Story). Also, in the topmost part are two angles that hold a medallion that is engraved with the picture of Jesus holding a cross. Every element in this sculpture seems to be paying respect to the emperor captured on the horse. Size has been used to signify power and dominance where one can see clearly that the emperor and the horse are larger than other elements in the sculpture. The entire piece is small and it has been sculptured in five separate parts that are brought together to form the entire sculpture. Uniform color has been used on the sculpture and the surface is smooth and polished.

Holy Trinity Icon

Andrei Rublev: Holy Trinity Icon (1411 or 1425-1427)

This painting captures three individuals that are sited around a table with a chalice. Each has a halo around their head and their right hand appears to be blessing the chalice. Based on their sitting arrangement, the three have formed a circle and have their attention drawn on the chalice. They all hold a calm stance and they appear to be contemplating. Going into the details, the artist used various aspects such as color and lines to clearly bring out the impression of the three individuals on the portrait. By capturing the garments the three have worn using different colors, it makes it easy for one to have a glimpse of the three with ease. By using the white color, it makes it easy for an individual to trace the halos on the heads of the three. Lines have also been used to capture the impression of the table. Therefore, by combing various elements, the artist brings out the image of the three angels that visited Abraham (The Art Story).


It is therefore clear that in art, various artists usually convey hidden meanings through the use of different elements such as colors, lines, composition, spaces, and pose. By looking at any piece of work, one can clearly identify the outer meaning that the artist wanted to convey. However, the real meaning lies in the elements that are used in the piece of artwork. For instance, by simply looking at the Barberini Ivory, one notices the huge horse and individual surrounded by others who appear to be paying respect to him. The main element here is size and it is used to depict power and dominance. Therefore through art, artists are able to convey various meanings that can be interpreted based on various elements of the artwork and the overall impression that is brought out.

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