To help you learn to read and respond to art and to apply the terminology learned in class, you will write a formal analysis of one painting at a
museum or gallery close to you. You must visit the museum or gallery in person to see the painting.
Outcomes 1-3, 9
We cannot overlook the role photography has played in the development of the field of art history and arts education as we know it today. While it was
once traditional for European painters to copy the great works of the “masters” in museums, photographs provided another option. Now, many American
artists study and may copy photos of original works in their own homes and studios and rarely see “masterworks.” Photography is a fine art in its own
right, and photographic imagery is often appropriated “as is” for modern creations. Pablo Picasso’s collages ushered in a new era when he chose to
incorporate printed newspapers and advertisements into some of his major works. We cannot deny, however, that photographs separate us from what’s
real. Photographs are not always good substitutes for the “real thing.” Why visit a museum when there are hundreds of “virtual galleries” available
with the click of a button? Is art simply visual imagery, or is seeing or participating in art an essential human experience?
Step 1: Research
To begin to address these questions, you will visit a museum close to you and choose one painting to focus on (it can be from any time period and any
style, but must be a painting). Spend 30-45 minutes examining your chosen artwork, paying special attention to the formal elements and principles of
design. Also think about how these elements and principles may operate differently depending on whether you are viewing the original painting or an
image of the painting (print or online). For example, are elements such as color, texture, light, and canvas size understood the same way in both
cases? Or if not, how do they differ?
You can use museum information on the painting (wall labels or website) as one of your three research sources. Use the ART 110 Research Guide to find
other sources about formal analysis and the pros and cons of viewing artwork in person, or about the specific artwork you chose.
If you are having difficulties visiting a museum or you require ADA Accommodations, please contact your instructor for alternate arrangements.
Step 2: Writing
In your written essay, be sure to include the visual elements and the principles of design discussed in the course and the textbook. This should not
be just a description of these elements, but an analysis of them. That means describing what the elements are but also explaining how they work to
create a particular effect, mood, or meaning. Remember this type of analysis requires you to stay objective. You should not make critiques or
judgments about the quality or beauty of the work (for example, do not use words like “great,” “brilliant,” or “bad”), but simply describe and analyze
the formal elements.
For your reference, here is a list of the visual elements and principles of design. Your paper should address each one of these as it relates to your
Visual Elements: Line, Shape, Light, Color, Texture, Space
Principles of Design: Unity and Variety, Balance, Emphasis and Subordination, Scale and Proportion, Rhythm and Movement
As with all essays, you should have a clear introduction and thesis statement, from which the rest of your paper flows. Word count should be 800-1200
Create a “Works Cited” section that lists three or more sources in MLA Style format at the end of your essay. Be sure you have properly cited any
direct quotes you use in support of your own writing. For help with MLA Style citations, visit the suggested links in the ART 110 Research Guide or in
our course home page’s Links area.
You must include at least one relevant, properly captioned (artist, title, date) image file in your document.
Step 3: Submit
Before you submit your assignment to the Dropbox, review the instructions once again to make sure you have answered the required questions and provide
relevant support. As always, the title of your saved file must include the module number and your last name (M1_LastName). Your work should be saved
and submitted as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf file. The Essay instructions and rubric in the Syllabus can help guide your participation.