YOU WILL SELECT A WORK OF ART FROM LATIN AMERICA OR THE CARIBBEAN DURING THE COLD WAR PERIOD (1945-1991), and write about it in relation to the theme of the exhibition. VISUAL ANALYSIS PAPER GUIDELINES The objective of this short essay assignment is to engage you in critical analysis of forms and visual information as well as to use art historical methodologies. You will also explain why this work is relevant to the exhibition and why it should be included in it. Keep in mind that artistic value is as important as relevance when deciding what works to include and you need to demonstrate that this work meets both criteria. Read the Guides to writing about art recommended in the syllabus. You will find sample essays there as well. I am also posting a reading here on BB - under Content/Materials for Exhibition. ANALYZING THE WORK OF ART: TAKE LOTS OF NOTES, MAKE SKETCHES (that helps understanding the work's composition, structure) Pick a day when you will have 2-3 hours to spend with the work of art. Choose a work of art that you find particularly interesting or familiar. You are to write about it knowledgeably. When you have chosen the work, spend some time looking at it from every possible angle (making a sketch can be useful). Take lots of notes on all the visual characteristics and elements you see. Think about the work’s lines, shapes, color, texture, composition, scale, materials, technique, etc. Identify the object’s subject matter as well as its style. You can always go back to the chapter on the language of art or the first slideshow. Also think of the genre or technique of the object (portraiture, landscape, mosaic, metalwork). You will need as much information as possible once you start thinking of a thesis or claim about the meaning of the object that you want to write about. Then you will be able to begin writing your detailed outline or rough draft. Write down the thoughts and feelings that the work instills in you. You are a viewer and the artists always take into account the viewer. If you see the work in person (museum, gallery, street), take notes about the relationship of the work with its surroundings. Is it well placed? Does it disrupt the space or inhabit it harmoniously? These notes are VERY IMPORTANT. You are beginning to write through these notes, which are your visual evidence, and this is the best way to find your own voice. Be very careful to use your own words and ideas! HERE ARE SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN WRITING A FORMAL ANALYSIS: Keep in mind that you always need to Back Up Your Statements! 1. Record your first impression(s) of the artwork. What stands out? Is there a focal point (an area to which the artist wants your eye to be drawn)? If so, what formal elements led you to that area? Your impressions can help you reach your THESIS about its MEANING. 2. What is the Subject matter of the artwork? What concepts or ideas are explored in it? 3. Composition: How are the parts of the work arranged? Is there a stable or unstable composition? Is it dynamic? Full of movement? Or is it static? 4. Pose: If the work has figures, are the proportions believable? Realistic? Describe the pose(s). Is the figure active, calm, graceful, stiff, tense, or relaxed? Does the figure convey a mood? If there are several figures, how do they relate to each other (do they interact? not?)? Remember “pose” is the relationship of parts to one another, “stance” is the arrangement of the feet, and “posture” is skeletal. 5. Proportions: Does the whole or even individual parts of the figure(s) or natural objects in the work look natural? Why did you come to this conclusion? 6. Line: Are the outlines (whether perceived or actual) smooth, fuzzy, clear? Are the main lines vertical, horizontal, diagonal, or curved, or a combination of any of these? Are the lines jagged and full of energy? Sketchy? Geometric? Curvilinear? Bold? Subtle? 7. Space: If the artist conveys space, what type of space is used? What is the relation of the main figure to the space around it? Are the main figures entirely within the space (if the artwork is a painting), or are parts of the bodies cut off by the edge of the artwork? Is the setting illusionistic, as if one could enter the space of the painting, or is it flat and two-dimensional, a space that one could not possibly enter? 8. Texture: If a sculpture, is the surface smooth and polished or rough? Are there several textures conveyed? Where and How? If a painting, is there any texture to the paint surface? Are the brushstrokes invisible? Brushy? Sketchy? Loose and flowing? Or tight and controlled? 9. Light and Shadow: Are shadows visible? Where? Are there dark shadows, light shadows, or both? How do the shadows affect the work? 10. Scale or Size: How big is the artwork? Are the figures or objects in the work life-sized, larger or smaller than life? How does the size affect the work? Remember “size” is a quantitativ

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