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Module 1

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Visual Analysis:

How to analyse an unseen artwork


Curriculum support CAPS/FET
Visual Art: Visual Culture Studies
Grades 10–12

  • Students (working alone or supervised)
  • Teachers (notes)

This module comprises 4 steps and additional resources.


Visual Arts is all about self-expression.

The study of visual culture will help you to develop your own visual language and visual literacy skills so that you can create ‘meaning’ in response to our very visual world.

This course will help you to:

  • Develop your ability to read and interpret visual images
  • Gain practice and self-assurance when analysing ‘unseen’ artworks
  • Construct informed, substantiated opinions


Let’s get started! Watch this short video in preparation for this module.

1: Discussion

Follow this step-by-step guided presentation. Learn how to draw on your existing knowledge to interpret an artwork that you haven’t seen before or in real life.

Remember to document your observations. Voice-record your discussion, even if you are by yourself. You will need it later.

2: Worksheet

In this exercise, you can jot down your ideas about what you have observed and discussed. We prepared a structured sheet to help you organise your thoughts.

You can print the worksheet and note your comments.

Below is the piece of art we are using in this exercise. Click on the image to find out more.

3: Example of a visual analysis

In this video, you can watch an example to see how visual analysis is done.

Find the notes here. How does your voice recording from Step 1 compare?

4: Activity sheet

Further your learning with activities for observation, exploration and art-making. If you are completing this for a school course, enquire with your teacher which particular activities are to be completed.

Additional Exercises

Find here additional resources to practice visual analysis of an unseen artwork.

For this exercise, you can use one of the following works of art.
Hover over the image to see the title and year, click on the image to enlarge.

See some of the pieces in our collection:

Wed – Fri: 10 am ‒ 5 pm
Sat: 10 am ‒ 2 pm

Adults: R65
U18s, students, pensioners, UCT staff: free

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0608 270 787 (Mobile)
021 650 7240 (Office)