Visual analysis term paper

ART 102 VISUAL ANALYSIS PAPERS

Summary: A 2-3 page formal analysis of a work of Western art in the Legion of Honor Museum. The work must date from the time period covered by the course (Rome in the Christian era to Romanticism). You must see the work of art in-person. You must submit a selfie taken in front of the artwork or a photo of your museum ticket with your topic. (A more formal photo you took in the museum must be included with your paper). In order to write a successful paper, you should spend at least 30 minutes standing in the room in front of the art work carefully examining it.

Objective: This assignment will acquaint you with analyzing and describing a work of art, as well as using primary sources (the work of art). The research in secondary sources will develop informational literacy.

Related to Major Learning Outcomes:

1. Distinguish and analyze the variety of techniques and formal visual elements of individual works of art in different media.

2. Define and differentiate the various styles within Asian art.

Instructions: This assignment will require that you see the work of art in-person. While standing in front of the work, describe it in as much detail as you can. Focus on details that you would not be able to see in a photograph. Try to analyze how the artist achieves the final composition by carefully detailing how s/he utilizes the "formal" elements of the work (i.e. color, composition, shapes or forms, line or contour, mass and volume, light, texture, depth, balance, etc.) and how these elements work together to create the final composition as well as to shape the content and meaning. (Refer to Barnet’s A Short Guide to Writing About Art for details.) Note: A maximum of one paragraph (or the equivalent sentences in the paper as appropriate) of cited research will be allowed. This information must be: (1) paraphrased in your own words and (2) properly cited (in MLA or Chicago format).

How to Submit and Due Dates: You will see a link in Assignments in which to submit.

The Paper Guidelines:

  • Total number of pages: 2 to 3 (double-spaced text; the illustration/s are extra)
  • Documentation: Identify the selected work of art. Include documentary information from the museum label, such as the title, artist, date, and dimensions (if known).
  • Style Description/Formal Analysis & Interpretation: Write a formal analysis of the work you have chosen from the museum. Begin with an overall description, then address the elements of form such as line, color, shape, mass and volume, light, texture space, brushstroke, depth, balance, visual rhythm, etc. Discuss the content or meaning of the work. How has the artist manipulated and organized the artistic form to enhance and communicate meaning in the work.
  • Illustration/s: Provide an illustration of the work of art from the museum (photo/jpeg)

This paper will be graded on:

  1. How well you follow instructions specified on this sheet.
  2. How well you follow the guidelines in A Short Guide to Writing About Art.
  3. How well you demonstrate a college level standard in format, information, and style of presentation.

Required Elements:

Organize: Your paper must contain the following:

  • Paragraph 1: Documentation/Introduction. In complete sentences, state the artist, if known, title, date, period/origin, medium. This will be a short paragraph that excludes a biographical sketch of the artist or a historical overview of the period.
  • Paragraph 2: General Condition and Description. Introduce the subject matter depicted, and give a general description of the work.
  • Paragraph 3: Thesis Statement. What is the overall effect of the artwork (geometric, organic, realistic, abstract, monumental, etc.)?
  • Paragraphs 4 to ?: Support. Support the thesis by systematically discussing the different visual elements, such as composition and design, movement, carving (for sculpture), use of space, color (painting; discuss color only if a sculpture is painted), and represented texture. Discuss each in a separate paragraph, showing how the artist, through each element, achieves the effect you stated in Paragraph 3.
  • Conclusion. Wrap up with reference to the thesis, and summarize the supports you have made in the preceding paragraphs.

Proofread: Proofread your paper for the following errors:

  • Spelling
  • Slang
  • Contractions (for example, it's--instead, use "it is")
  • The pronouns "I" and "me": Do not write in the first person.
  • Sources of information not cited in the text. For example, if you use information from another source, cite it directly after in the text. For example: Firmitas, utilitas, and venustas are the three criteria by which architecture should be assessed, according to Vitruvius. (Barnet 112)

RUBRIC

Level 4: Accomplished

Thesis: Demonstrates clear thesis statements which assert a unified focus.

Organization: Demonstrates consistent use of transitions and sense of logical essay structures. Main points are found in topic sentences and are related to thesis.

Content/Evidence: Contains sufficient evidence in support of points. If used, sources are applicable.

Essay Length: Meets prescriptive page lengths.

Language/Grammar/Syntax: Demonstrates consistent correct modes of expression; few or no errors.

Use of Citations: If used, sources are paraphrased and properly cited.

Level 3: Competent

Thesis: Demonstrates clear thesis statements which assert a unified focus. There may be some awkward or mechanical sentence structure.

Organization: Demonstrates somewhat consistent use of transitions and sense of logical essay structures. Most topic sentences are related to thesis.

Content/Evidence: Contains sufficient evidence in support of points. If used, sources are applicable.

Essay Length: Meets prescriptive page length.

Language/Grammar/Syntax: Demonstrates consistent correct modes of expression; some vague or awkward phrases, but these do not inhibit meaning or readability. Contains writing that follows rules of standard written English; some errors, but not distracting.

Use of Citations: If used, sources are paraphrased and properly cited.

Level 2: Developing

Thesis: Starts to demonstrate understanding of thesis statements; statements are sometimes statements of facts, not arguments.

Organization: Uses a few logically organized well-structured arguments. Some topic sentences and main points relate to the thesis.

Content/Evidence: Some points are supported by evidence. If used, sources are applicable.

Essay Length: Almost meets prescriptive page length.

Language/Grammar/Syntax: Some errors in word choice, grammar, and/or sentence boundary errors.

Use of Citations: If used, sources are paraphrased and cited.

Level 1: Beginning

Thesis: Fails to demonstrate a consistent understanding of thesis statements; statements are often statements of facts, not arguments.

Organization: Fails to demonstrate logically organized well-structured arguments. Topic sentences and main points do not relate to the thesis.

Content/Evidence: Consistently fails to use sources to support points. Consistently fails to use detailed, applicable evidence to support main points.

Essay Length: Fails to meets prescriptive page length.

Language/Grammar/Syntax: Extremely difficult to read and understand. Word choice is inappropriate or incorrect. Contains numerous and distracting grammar and sentence boundary errors. Meaning is inhibited by errors in grammar.

Use of Citations: Uses sources, but fails to paraphrase and cite.

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