Work of Art

Please select a painting or sculpture that you find attractive or incredibly unattractive (please, do not select a photo as we will do that in a separate assignment). This might be a style of art that you love or hate, an artist you admire or don’t “get”, or an individual piece that just strikes you as wonderful or horrible.

You may choose any work that you feel like analyzing for this project. HOWEVER, the more famous or notorious the work is, the easier your life will be. You are free to choose something that you are viewing solely online or something that you are able to view in person. Additionally, please do not analyze something created by an individual you know personally, as it will make some aspects of this assignment more difficult for you to accomplish.

Part II: Personal Perspective of this Work [1-2 paragraphs]

This is the easy part of the assignment. You cannot give a “wrong answer” here.

Looking at this piece, what is your gut reaction to it? Is it ugly? Gorgeous? Nice, but certainly not something you’d buy and put in your house? Please be as descriptive as possible as far as what you like or dislike about this piece.

Next, briefly explain why you feel you might be reacting this way to the piece. Is it the artist, the style, the subject, your background, etc.?

Part III: Prepare for Analysis of the Work [approximately 5-9 paragraphs]

The book discusses how an individual prepares to analyze a work. Please follow the following steps recommended in the chapter and write down your impressions in each area. For item 1, you may write it as a bullet-point list if that makes more sense to you. For items 4-6, it is okay if there are no examples that you can see, but please mention that you do not see any rather than just leaving it blank so that I can see you completed the task.

1.    Make a detailed inventory list of everything in the work of art. What objects are shown? What people are shown?
2.    Note unique compositional elements within the frame. What parts of the work grab your attention or fail to do so? What parts of the work are distracting? What parts are distracting?
3.    Look at the color, form, depth, and movement in the work. How would you describe the color? What forms are present? How is depth used? How do your eyes move around the work; in what order do you “read” this work?
4.    Identify any examples of the gestalt laws of similarity, proximity, continuation, and common fate
5.    Identify and explain any iconic, indexical, and symbolic signs you see in this picture.
6.    Do you see any examples of the semiotic codes of metonymy, analogy, displaced, and condensed? What are they?
7.    What is the literal meaning of this work of art, in your opinion and in your own words?
8.    Why do you think this picture was created?
9.    Is this image aesthetically pleasing? Why or why not? Was it meant to be? Why or why not?

Part IV: Historical Perspective of the Work [2-3 paragraphs; sources required]

This is where choosing a more well-known piece will start to pay off. Using scholarly resources or resources provided by the gallery, conduct some research into the piece of art you have chosen to analyze. When was it made? What was happening during this time period? Is there a style this artist is copying/ satirizing/ parodying?

Please provide in-text citations and a reference page in the style of your choice for the sources you are citing in this portion of the paper.

Part V: Technical Perspective of the Work [2-3 paragraphs; sources may be required]

Based on your observation and/ or research, please explain how this work was created. What techniques were used? Is the work of art a good example of the techniques used to make it? If you conduct research to understand the techniques used, please provide in-text citations and sources on the reference page in the style of your choice.

Part VI: Ethical Perspective of the Work [2-3 paragraphs; sources may be required]

There are two ways you can choose to analyze the work at this stage: analyzing the artist or analyzing the work itself. If you are analyzing the artist, please look at the ethics of what he or she did in the creation of the piece. Were people harmed by the creation of the work? Was the artist (un)fairly compensated for the work? Was the creation of the work conducted in an ethical and fair manner? If you are analyzing the work, please look at the ethics of the message the piece provides. Is this piece encouraging or belittling people? Is it encouraging or squashing social justice? Is it promoting overly loose, overly strict, or appropriate moral values? Is it promoting or degrading a certain religion or value system? You are certainly welcome to analyze the ethical values of both the artist and the work.

You may find it necessary to reference your research from the historical and technical perspective to understand the ethics and norms of the artist/ the work. You may also find it necessary to reference certain ethical schools of thought. If you conduct research to understand the ethical systems represented, please provide in-text citations and sources on the reference page in the style of your choice.

Part VII: Cultural Perspective of the Work [2-3 paragraphs; sources may be required]

The next stage includes identifying the symbols and metaphors used in an image and determining their meaning for society as a whole. Some of the content you provide here may overlap with Part III: Questions 5 & 6—that’s fine. Things to consider in this portion of the analysis are: who comes off looking “right” or “good” and who comes off looking “evil” or “stupid”, what does the artist appear to think about his or her subject(s), what are the words that are included in the work to describe it or supplement it, and how does the form of this work (small statue vs. painting vs. large fixture in a community park) affect the content of the work?

Once you have identified the symbols and metaphors, please assess who they are meant to appeal to and make sense to and who are they meant to exclude or limit? Again, this may require additional research or it may tie into the previously conducted research you did to write the rest of the paper. Keep in mind that we all automatically analyze based on our own culture and values—you may also need to do research to help you analyze through the lens of the culture and value system it was meant to appeal to/ understand why it might be exclusionary or hard to understand to another culture or value system. If you conduct research to understand the cultural perspectives represented, please provide in-text citations and sources on the reference page in the style of your choice.

Part VII: Critical Perspective of the Work [2-3 paragraph; sources may be required]

As a final stage, please attempt to go beyond the work of art you are currently talking about and draw general conclusions about the medium, the culture it came from, and the viewer. At this point, you are critiquing society’s rejection or acceptance of this work, but also works of art that are similar to this one. Again, this may require additional research or it may tie into the previously conducted research you did to write the rest of the paper. If you conduct research to understand the cultural perspectives represented, please provide in-text citations and sources on the reference page in the style of your choice. If you conduct research to make your critiques, please provide in-text citations and sources on the reference page in the style of your choice

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