For this paper, you are asked to write an account of your museum visit. The attached worksheet should be completed and attached to final papers and is intended to help structure your thoughts. Strong papers will blend personal reflection with critical evaluation of both the museum experience and the artworks seen. When you visit the museum, take careful notes about the space, what you see, how the works are arranged and organized, and whether or not this fits with your expectations. When selecting your artwork, pick the one that appeals to you and that you want to further examine. Your brief analysis of the selected artwork should be set within your broader knowledge of style and pictorial culture, as we have discussed them in class lecture. Your analysis should move from description to interpretation – i.e., to the expressive significance of figural motifs and their interaction; of the quality of space in the design on the surface and within the notional world of representation; the significance of color choice, distribution and handling of paint; the particular qualities of the medium (ceramic, sculpture, painting); the texture and surface of the sculpted object; the treatment of volume in three dimensions. Your time should be spent in the museum rather than in the library, looking closely and often at the art object itself rather than at reproductions. All papers must include a receipt or ticket stub as proof of the museum visit. Failure to attach proof of visit will result in the penalty of one letter grade (10 points).
BY WHAT CRITERIA WILL MY PAPER BE EVALUATED?
The written paper requires you to collect original data from first-hand observation and interpretation of a museum and an object in a museum collection and to interpret them with respect to concepts learned in class, primary sources, and art historical readings. The key elements to critical thinking expected from this written assignment include:
• use of careful, precise language to describe the artwork observed;
• an integration of descriptive and analytical statements about the object that steer the reader;
• the application of period terms and concepts where appropriate;
• clear reasoning about interpretations drawn from the looking process;
• presentation of alternative questions raised by the space and object when appropriate;
• the demonstration of an awareness of the social and historical context of the object under consideration;
• use of art-historical interpretive approaches to engage with the object.
Your paper will also be evaluated for its use of proper spelling, punctuation, grammar, formatting and other mechanics.
While you are asked to engage museum employees upon your arrival, this is your assignment. You alone are responsible for answering the questions and completing the paper, which is intended as a personal response. If you lose your way in the galleries, let that be part of the experience and write about it. DO NOT ask museum employees any questions beyond those where it has been specified to do so.
Your paper should be 900-1100 words, or 3-4 pages, in length. Please limit your papers to 4 pages; a too-long paper needs more assertive revision to clarify the main thesis and supporting arguments. Use 11.5 or 12-point font, preferably Times. Double space your text and use 1” margins. Number each page starting on page 2. No cover page is necessary; a reproduction of the work need not be included, but appreciated. In the top right corner of the first page include your last name, date, and section number single spaced. Proofread your paper before submission. Papers must be submitted by the due date.
On Formal Analyses (What are they? How are they attempted? What makes them successful?) — Anne D’Alleva, “Formal Analysis,” in Look! Fundamentals of Art History. Prentice Hall, 2005. See especially pp 11- 39. Also Sylvan Barnet, “Formal Analysis and Style,” A Short Guide to Writing About Art, pp. 113-1