Go to the website https://82nd-and-fifth.metmuseum.org/. Choose an artwork made before 1400 CE on which to write a visual analysis. This involves analyzing form, content, and their interconnections in one work of art.

On this website you’ll see a list (click list view) of 100 works of art. Here are the ones you can write about for this paper: numbers 8, 9, 14, 15, 18, 20, 25, 28, 29, 35, 36, 37, 50, 53, 59, 62, 64, 67, 68, 70, 71, 72, 74, 77, 79, 90, 94, 95.

Note: If you write about an artwork made in or after 1400 CE, I will require you to re-write the paper on an appropriate subject.

Write a 2-3 page essay* describing and analyzing your artwork. Structure it like this:

  • Introduction: Introduce the artwork and the topic of the essay (“I am analyzing the form and content of…”). Give me as much basic information as you can. Do you know the title, the artist’s name, the culture it comes from, the date, the size?
  • Thesis: The introduction (first paragraph) should contain a thesis. A thesis is the argument that your paper puts forward. It should be underlined and read something like this: “I argue that this artwork is about ____.” (The artwork could be about something like the power of love, Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, the divine power of the emperor, etc.)
  • Formal Analysis: Describe what the artwork looks like as we have practiced. This time, also indicate if and how the form elicits emotion. Do certain colors or expressions create certain moods? Or: does the artwork convey sadness, happiness, confidence, serenity, or something else? How? You could also point out any formal patterns you notice. Are certain types of line or color used more often than any other? What is its effect?
  • Content Analysis: Discuss what you feel the artwork might mean. Elaborate on your thesis statement. Ask yourself: What is this about? What do I feel when I look at it? What might it be used for? How could it relate to culture, religion or politics? This is not a research paper, but you can use the video on the Met’s website as long as you refer to it and do not plagiarize from it. In fact, you must respond to the video in some way. Do you agree with the curator’s approach to the object or not? Explain.
  • Optional Comparison: You might compare the artwork to pieces we have discussed in class. Does it seem to have a similar meaning to other art that we have looked at? If so, explain. If not, you can skip this part.
  • Conclusion: Explain why you chose this artwork. Do you like it or dislike it, and why? Does it have personal significance for you? Is there more you would like to learn about this artwork or historical period in the future?

Format Guidelines: Your paper should be DOUBLE SPACED and typed in twelve-point font. Make sure it looks like my sample on the “Paper Format” document on Blackboard and Dropbox. Titles of artworks need to be in italics (no quotation marks). Make sure to indent paragraphs (press tab) and use Times New Roman font – the font in which this assignment sheet is written.

Papers will only receive an “A” grade if they follow the formatting guidelines, demonstrate your understanding of elements of form and content, and are polished final drafts with few spelling or grammar errors. Re-writes are welcome.

*The paper should be at least two full pages long or end up somewhere on the third page. If you reach page 4 that is fine.

Grading Rubric for Form and Content Analysis Assignment

Important notes:

  • Plagiarism (copying a paper you found online, from another student, in a book) results in a grade of 0 and disciplinary action on the part of the school could follow.
  • Carefully read the grading rubric for full details of the paper format and content.
  • Please double space your papers, use a 1” margin and 11 or 12 point font, Times New Roman.

Thesis Statement: _______________/10

             Does the student have an underlined thesis statement in the first/introductory paragraph? Does it give a clear argument about the meaning of the chosen artwork or object?

Formal Analysis: ________________/25

             Does the student describe the formal appearance of the chosen artwork in detail so that the reader can visualize the object by reading about it? Does s/he discuss the art object in terms of line, shape, color, texture, space, scale, and composition (as appropriate)? Does the student correctly employ formal vocabulary learned in class?

Content Analysis: _______________/25

             Does the student give a persuasive account of the artwork’s meaning? Does the student indicate “artwork X is about theme or idea X”? Is this discussion consistent with and an elaboration on the student’s thesis statement? Does the student propose possible historical, social, religious, political interpretations of the art object (as appropriate)?

Clarity of Writing: ______________/20

             Does the student write about the art in a clear, precise, easy to understand manner? Are English expressions used correctly? Is the writing style more formal than conversational speech without being overcomplicated?

Organization of Paper: _____________/10

             Is it clear what topic is being discussed in each paragraph? Are there topic sentences and transition sentences to indicate the subject matter of each paragraph? Do the paper’s ideas unfold in a logical manner that is easy to follow? Does the paper’s organization correspond to the “structure it like this” section of the assignment sheet?

Spelling, Grammar, Formatting: ___________/10

             Does the paper have generally correct spelling, grammar, and formatting? Are there relatively few typographical and grammar errors? Is the paper double spaced with indents at the start of each paragraph?

Total: _________________/100

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