Formal Analysis Research Paper- ART 100
You are required to write a 3 page formal analysis on one work of art of your choice. It can be any medium (painting, sculpture, architecture, textile, etc.) and is not limited to the works that we have studied in the class. Use the guide below to help you organize your ideas. You MUST include a works cited page in MLA formatting for all sources!
DUE- April 1st at 11:59pm CST.
Knowing how to write a formal analysis of a work of art is a fundamental skill learned in an art appreciation-level class. Use this sheet as a guide when writing a formal analysis paper. Consider the following when analyzing a work of art. Not everything applies to every work of art, nor is it always useful to consider things in the order given. In any analysis, keep in mind the following: HOW and WHY is this a significant work of art?
Part I – General Information
1. In many cases, this information can be found on a label or in a gallery guidebook. There may be an artist’s statement available in the gallery. If so, indicate in your text or by a footnote or endnote to your paper where you got the information.
2. Subject Matter (Who or What is Represented?)
3. Artist or Architect (What person or group made it? Often this is not known. If there is a name, refer to this person as the artist or architect, not “author.” Refer to this person by their last name, not familiarly by their first name.)
4. Date (When was it made? Is it a copy of something older? Was it made before or after other similar works?)
5. Provenance (Where was it made? For whom? Is it typical of the art of a geographical area?)
6. Location (Where is the work of art now? Where was it originally located? Does the viewer look up at it, or down at it? If it is not in its original location, does the viewer see it as the artist intended? Can it be seen on all sides, or just on one?)
7. Technique and Medium (What materials is it made of? How was it executed? How big or small is it?)
Part II – Brief Description
In a few sentences describe the work. What does it look like? Is it a representation of something? Tell what is shown. Is it an abstraction of something? Tell what the subject is and what aspects are emphasized. Is it a non-objective work? Tell what elements are dominant. This section is not an analysis of the work yet, though some terms used in Part III might be used here. This section is primarily a few sentences to give the reader a sense of what the work looks like.
Part III – Form
This is the key part of your paper. It should be the longest section of the paper. Be sure and think about whether the work of art selected is a two-dimensional or three-dimensional work.
1. Line (straight, curved, angular, flowing, horizontal, vertical, diagonal, contour, thick, thin, implied etc.)
2. Shape (what shapes are created and how)
3. Light and Value (source, flat, strong, contrasting, even, values, emphasis, shadows)
4. Color (primary, secondary, mixed, complimentary, warm, cool, decorative, values)
5. Texture and Pattern (real, implied, repeating)
6. Space (depth, overlapping, kinds of perspective)
7. Time and Motion
Principles of Design
1. Unity and Variety
2. Balance (symmetry, asymmetry)
3. Emphasis and Subordination
4. Scale and Proportion (weight, how objects or figures relate to each other and the setting)
5. Mass/Volume (three-dimensional art)
7. Function/Setting (architecture)
8. Interior/Exterior Relationship (architecture)
Part IV – Opinions and Conclusions
This is the part of the paper where you go beyond description and offer a conclusion and your own informed opinion about the work. Any statements you make about the work should be based on the analysis in Part III above.
1. In this section, discuss how and why the key elements and principles of art used by the artist create meaning.
2. Support your discussion of content with facts about the work.
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