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Analyze an art object using skills of art criticism.
Apply knowledge from course readings to understand issues of style and culture.
Develop lifelong skills for viewing art.
Project Components

Select your object from the list
Review Feldman, Chapter 2, to understand the process for the analysis assignment.
Before writing anything, engage in deep looking: Look at your object intently for about 30 minutes. Scan it from top to bottom and side to side. Investigate small elements and details. Squint at it to de-emphasize the details so that you see only the big patterns. Observe the use of the elements of art: color, texture, line, light and shadow, etc.
During deep looking or just afterwards, make at least one sketch (or map, or diagram) of the object you are studying. You will see a great deal more as you draw an image of the object for yourself. Like the deep looking exercise, this process also slows you down and helps you to notice more things than you might otherwise see.
Finally, write and submit your analysis for grading. Please also submit your study sketch(es)/drawing(s)/diagram(s): they will not be graded, but you will lose points if they are not submitted.

Project Format

This is not a research paper. Your short art analysis paper (minimum 1000 words or around 10 paragraphs) should use only what you know from what you read in your text and what is on the title cards at the museum. Do not find or use any other sources.

Your discussion should consist of six parts, five of which are based on Chapter 2 of Feldman’s book. You should use these five elements (with sub-elements, in the Interpretation section) as the format for organization. You do not need an introduction or conclusion for this analysis.

YOUR VISIT: Note the date, time, and duration of your visit. Make a quick list of the other objects in the gallery with your chosen object.

IDENTIFY: Give the name of the object, the name of the artist (if known), the date(s) of creation, the medium, the approximate measurements, and the location in the museum (Gallery number and general museum section).

DESCRIBE: Write a complete description of the object, but be CONCISE, DIRECT, and TO THE POINT. Describe the piece without being analytical, judgmental, or using interpretation; just look carefully, and tell what you have seen. Write your description in such a way that a person who has read your paper would have no difficulty identifying the object you have described, for instance, if they walked into a crowded gallery and had to pick it out. This section of your paper does not need to be long.

FORMAL ANALYSIS: Consider the use of the forms or elements of art, as well as the relationships between and among those forms. Some typical terms used to describe the elements of art are line, light, shape, color and temperature, size and quantity, space and location, surface and texture (Feldman); or line, shape, color, texture, spatial qualities–mass and volume, and space–and composition (Stokstad/Cothren).

INVESTIGATION/INTERPRETATION: This section of the paper should be the longest of all of the sections. Investigate/interpret the work in terms of its place in the history of art. It can be very helpful to make connections to and comparisons with examples from Stokstad/Cothren. Please write about the object considering each of the following areas:

The subject matter: What is shown or depicted? What kinds of meanings can be associated with this appearance?

What is the original purpose of the work? Where would it be used and/or seen? Who might have paid for it?

What is the historical position of the piece? Out of which culture does it come? How do you know this? Other than the title card, are their internal clues in the work itself?

What is the style of the work? Please consider the regional style and the period style (the characteristics associating this work with others of its time, place, purpose, and meaning), and if we know the individual artists identity, consider the personal style (the factors making it characteristic of the work of its artist).

GROUNDS OF JUDGMENT: Identify the grounds of judgment you chose to use (formalism, expressivism, or instrumentalism), and evaluate the work according to your chosen approach.