Interpretation is a stage in the work of art criticism following the describing and analyzing of an artwork, in which one identifies the work's expressive qualities, or the meaning, or the mood, or idea communicated to the viewer.

A work of art can be very complicated and may be interpreted in different ways by different people. In art criticism, one's interpretation of a work is personal, based upon the information one has gathered from the work. In art history, interpretation identifies the influences of time and place on the artist: images of the same subject, created at different times or in different locations may have little in common. Their differences reflect the contrasting personal and cultural traditions and values of each artist.