History of western art: renaissance to contemporary

  • Museum web:http://museumca.org
  • Completion of artwork analysis on your choice of a compelling artwork viewed in- person at a local museum. Minimum 4 full pages (no more than 5 full pages), typed, double-spaced, MLA format.
  • Include image of selected work (does not apply towards page count) Additionally, the bibliography does not apply towards page count.
  • Artwork must have been seen in person at a local museum. **Please see the list of museums on Canvas for more information** The selected artwork must reference the scope of the class: Western art (Europe / America) from the Renaissance (15th century) to the Contemporary (present). If traveling and planning on going to a museum outside of the Bay Area please contact me for approval.
  • Must submit one of the following forms of verification: Image of ticket stub/ receipt/ sticker/ or ‘selfie’ with artwork with the analysis. No other forms of verification will be accepted. Must submit verification for analysis to be graded. If it is a free day, save the sticker you receive and place it on a piece of paper with your name and take a photo of it. Essay will receive zero points without verification of a museum visit.
  1. The Assignment:
    The artwork analysis should largely be crafted through an analysis of the formal qualities (light, space, color and the relationships among them, etc.) of the artwork selected (primary source). Must integrate the vocabulary of formal analysis within the analysis.
    Touch on the following topics:
    • Introduce the artwork, the artist (only briefly introduce the artist. I am not looking for a
      paper written about the life of an artist), and location of artwork; consider the time it was made, societal conditions of the time in which the artist was working or the artwork was made, and any historical significance of the artwork. Consider the reasons why this artwork is compelling.
    • Interpret the work. What is it about? What is the meaning? Think about perspectives that are social, cultural, political, economic, or aesthetic. Get societal / historical information from the textbook and/or another source. Remember that only 1-3 scholarly secondary sources (books, periodicals) are permitted (books, periodicals).
    • Evaluate the artwork through extensive formal visual description (color, light, organization of forms, line, etc.) of the art object. Include description of appearance, subject matter (example: politics, religion, etc.) the medium the artist chose (oil paint, bronze sculpture, etc.) and significance to the work, scale (size), and briefly comment on what is satisfying and/or not satisfying about the work. (No statements such as: “I think”, “I feel,” etc.) **Please see the resource “How To Write About Artwork” for more information**

Art 3 Online – Art Analysis Instructions



Source material:

  • Ground observations in 1-3 secondary sources (books, periodicals).
  • Course textbook or book(s) from library.
  • If using Internet source material, only use museum websites, websites created by the
    artist or foundation, scholarly art magazines (For example: Art in America, Art Forum), reputable newspapers (for example: NY Times, Los Angles Times), or a gallery that represents the artist. No Wikipedia, dubious online sites, blogs, or peer-reviewed papers.
  • No large quotes (over 4 lines) from source material.
  • All source material must be acknowledged with an in-text citation within the body
    of the essay and included on a works cited page!
  • Please remember that biographical information and wall text from a museum
    used in the essay must also be cited to demonstrate the sources you have consulted. Please see the link on our Canvas page for MLA in-text citation assistance. See me during office hours for additional assistance.
  • No plagiarism. Essays submitted with any amount of plagiarized material will receive zero points. Please see course policy on “Academic Dishonesty”

Presentation of written material:
Please follow MLA guidelines. Art analysis must be in essay format, have an introduction with a thesis statement stating the purpose of your paper, development explaining the thesis of your essay, and a conclusion that serves as summary of your findings.
Format: The computerized typing must be the following: accepted fonts Times New Roman, Helvetica, Cambria, Calibri; 12 points in character; standard margins of 1” top and bottom and 1” left and right. Papers written in any other format are not acceptable. The written assignment will be graded on form as well as content so please be mindful of spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
Please note: Points are deducted for written material that does not meet the requirements as stated above, and for essays that are shorter than the required length.

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