This is an in-depth analysis of one artwork. The work must fall within the time frame of Western art encompassed by the course (14th Century to early 20th Century), and it should reflect aspects of an artistic trend discussed in class. Choose something that grabs you. In the past, I’ve required students to visit a museum to choose their topic. If you can do this, it would be very enjoyable, but I can’t require it.
In the paper’s introduction, identify the work by providing the artist’s name, title, date, medium and the collection (museum) in which it’s located. In the body of the paper, consider how the artwork is representative of artistic trends of its day and the individual artist. You can break down your discussion into sections dealing with subject matter, and the purpose the work served (for example, who commissioned it or its original setting), and style analysis. Plenty of description helps the reader see what you see. Be sure to link the work to its artistic period and artist, providing historic context for the piece.
Think in terms of 4 or 5 pages of double-spaced text, plus a “Works Cited” page and illustration(s). Proper titles of art are italicized or underlined. (You’d never know this from your textbook.) Research is required to get a full understanding of the piece and its historic context. At least five scholarly sources should be listed, and at least three of those should be print sources (books, periodical articles or museum publications) rather than online sources. Please use in-text citations and list your sources in a conventional format. The optional Sylvan Barnet’s Short Guide to Writing about Art includes the Chicago style for source citations, as well as great writing guidelines and sample essays. I also accept APA style or MLA style, both of which can be found online.
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