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Formal Analysis of a Work of Art (ISBN 9780205989331)

Formal Analysis of a Work of Art (ISBN 9780205989331)

Description: A formal analysis includes an analysis of the forms appearing in the work you have chosen. These forms give the work its expression, message, or meaning. A formal analysis assumes a work of art is (1) a constructed object (2) that has been created with a stable meaning (even though it might not be clear to the viewer) (3) that can be ascertained by studying the relationships between the elements of the work. To aid in writing a formal analysis, you should think as if you were describing the work of art to someone who has never seen it before. When your reader finishes reading your analysis, she/he should have a complete mental picture of what the work looks like.

Additionally, the formal analysis is more than just a description of the work. It should also include a thesis statement that reflects your conclusions about the work. The thesis statement may, in general, answer a question like these: What do I think is the meaning of this work? What is the message that this work or artist sends to the viewer? What is this work all about? The thesis statement is an important element. It sets the tone for the entire paper, and sets it apart from being a merely descriptive paper.

Format for the Paper: Two to three pages (not including title page, if you use one, or images if you choose to include one), double spaced, 10 or 12 pt type (Times or Times New Roman only), 1” margins. Make sure you proofread your papers for incorrect grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other errors. In addition, make sure your paper includes a thesis statement. Your grade will reflect your ability to follow these guidelines.
This is an assignment to help you recognize visual elements and principles of design in works of art. For this assignment you are to discuss the form, content, and subject matter of a work of art and how they relate to each other.

You will not need to do additional research. This paper is based on your observations of the principles of design and visual elements from Chapters 3 and 4, Chapter 5, and the discussion of form and content from Chapter 2. This is not a research paper. You need to discuss the form of the piece.

In the first paragraph, called the introduction, you will include:

• the name of the artist (if known), title (which is underlined or italicized every time you use the title in your paper), date, and medium (if known)

• what you think is the subject

• a very brief description of the work

• thesis statement – usually the last line or so of your first paragraph.

From that point, the rest of the formal analysis should include not only a description of the piece, but especially those details of the work that have led you to come to your thesis. Your paper should not be a random flow of ideas about the work (i.e. stream of consciousness writing). Rather, your paper should have a sense of order, moving purposefully through your description, from one term to the next, with regard to each specific element. How do the visual elements and principles of design work within the work of art to create themeaning you are addressing?

Finally, in your conclusion (the final paragraph) you should end your paper with a restatement of your thesis and summary of your response to the piece. Notice if your first impression of the work has changed, now that you have taken a closer look? How? If you came up with a thesis statement before doing this in-depth analysis, you may want to change it if your impression of the work has changed.
It is important to remember that your interest here is strictly formal; NO RESEARCH IS NEESSARY FOR THIS PAPER. In other words, you are strictly relying on your ability to visually ‘read’ a work of art and make interpretations about it based on your analysis of it. Remember, too, that your analysis should not be just a mechanical, physical description. Please use descriptive language and adjectives to describe your work. Begin with a general description of the work, and then move on to the specific elements listed below. In addition, please refer to your syllabus concerning my, and the college’s, policy on plagiarism – do not share your thesis or paper with other students and please do not work on your paper with another student. This is considered plagiarism and will result in a failing grade for the entire class.

1. First, select ONE of the following listed works of art. Analysis papers submitted using a work of art other than one of those listed will not be accepted. •The Approach of Krishna. c. 1600 – 1670. Pahari region, India. Basohil style. Fig. 18.10, pg. 309.

•Thomas Cole. The Oxbow. 1836. Fig. 21.6, pg. 365.

•Vincent van Gogh. The Sower. 1888. Fig. 21.29, pg. 384.

•Pable Picasso. Violin, Fruit, and Wineglass. 1913. Fig. 22.17, pg. 403.

•Diego Rivera. The Liberation of the Peon. 1931. Fig. 23.18, pg. 423.

2. 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 this conclusion? Your impressions can help you reach your thesis.

3. What is the subject of the artwork?

4. Second, discuss its form: put into words a description of what you see using the terms below. Describe how each visual elements and principle of design is used within the piece in a list format, in the order they are listed. Be sure to clearly indicate each term as you address it.

5. Then, analyze the meaning. Analyze the visual elements and principles of design to interpret what the content, or meaning of the work is. Discuss how the form expresses the content, or meaning, of the piece.


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