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First Paper *Instructions: You are to pick two works of art from the categories

by | Mar 6, 2022 | Art & architecture


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First Paper
*Instructions: You are to pick two works of art from the categories listed below (one from each category) and create an essay in which you can discuss them in relation to each other through a theme (this is NOT a compare/contrast; rather, you are finding how/where they intersect). Again, this is NOT a compare and contrast. Instead, you are finding out how they share an overall theme despite any differences. The works have to be from different cultures, so you are choosing one work from Category I and one work from Category II (listed below). You are to make connections, engage in critical thinking, and go beyond mere descriiption or summary to generate an interesting analysis.
*Finding a Theme: Think about what each work means, what it looks like, what it stands for, if it is symbolic, how it reflects humanity, how it represents the person who made. These are just suggestions to help you choose a single theme that you can identify in them. Pull out as much as possible from each work. You are free to decide upon any theme. You can create your own, or here are some examples of options: Nature; Modernity; Poverty; War; Suffering; Imagination; Spirituality; Consumerism; Recreation; Identity; Race; Gender; Nationhood; Capitalism; Fear; Propaganda; Alienation; Love; Hope; Globalism; Beauty; Education; Strength; Joy; Personal Expression; Something emotional or psychological; History; Family; Originality? Creativity; Fun; Hate; Anger; Survival.
You need to be specific with your theme. For example, saying the two works both are of women, or animals, or family, or religious, or kings is too simplistic. Think beyond just what you see at the surface. Take your theme and make it specific. For example, if you choose Fun, what do you mean by Fun; or if you choose Spirituality, do you means believing in ghosts, having a soul, hoping there is more than just humanity, being religious, etc. You will need to explain the specific angle you take with your theme.
*Paper Structure:
Once you pick your theme and your works of art, this is how you write your paper:
Cover Page: This lists the title of the paper, your name, the name of the class and the date. The paper should have a meaningful title (something other than “Museum Paper” or “First Report” or “Art History Paper”). The goal of the title is actually quite serious, it arouses interest and informs the reader of the paper’s themes, issues, topics, etc., and this can be slight or vague, but should be considered and should be present. Here are some examples of paper titles from my other students: “A Tale of Two Women,” “Global Connectivity: An Opportunity Abused,” “Perception,” “Portraits: Filter of the Past,” “Buried in Style: Funerary Practices,” “Spiritual Power in Art,” and “Divine Elements of Nature.”
Museum Works Page: Here is where you give all of the specific information about the work that was provided on the websites. This generally includes the name, date it was made, place it was made, artist’s name (if we know), an accession number (this is specific to the museum collection and refers to when the museum acquired the work; think of it like the work’s social security number), and the provenance (this refers to where the work came from, which collection it was a part of before), and sometimes the person who donated the work, or a group that bought it or the museum will be listed as well. You can literally just copy and paste the information, and it does not matter how many pages this takes up…but they do NOT count towards your required page number (nor does the cover page).In short, you need to provide whatever specific information the website gave you about your works. Some of the website provide a paragraph or two of information. You must copy that and include it here.
Introduction: Your introduction paragraph is where you “set the stage” for the reader. The goal is not to start a diary entry (“The museum website is filled with great treasures…” or “At first I couldn’t find anything, then I saw this”). It also should not start with clichéd phrases: “A picture is worth a thousand words” or “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Instead, the idea is to state both what the theme will be and the works you will discuss. You, of course, can add additional sentences that further explain the angle you are going to take with your theme and/or what you are going to argue. The bottom line is that, after reading your introduction, your reader has a sense of the goal of the paper, your theme and the works (their names and dates) that will be used to reach that goal and prove your point.
Analysis of the two works: In Art History, there is something called a “Formal Analysis” and it is the method by which works are studied. A formal analysis, for this paper, has two parts: a specific visual descriiption of the work and a brief explanation of what the work generally is understood to mean or represent. Both of your textbooks have sections that discuss and define the terms and ways Art Historians analyze works and these provide additional ways to discuss line, color, texture, size, etc….terms/words you will need to use in your paper. In Gardner’s, you can refer to pages 2-11, and in Stokstad, go to the Starter Kit on page xxii. PLEASE READ THOSE SECTIONS for terms and assistance in talking about art! For the visual descriiption, you want to be as specific as possible; for example: don’t say there are colors, say which colors; don’t say there are details, explain what the details are; don’t say the figure looks like a human (if that is the case), but explain what that shape is, is it realistic looking or is it abstract, and how big is it, etc.
***Again, for a formal analysis in this paper (which immediately follows the introduction) you are visually describing your first work of art, then (in a following paragraph), explaining what it is and why it was made. After that, you do the same with the second work of art. That’s all!
Explanation and Discussion of your Theme: The next paragraph/s is/are where you spend time, first, explaining in full what the theme is and how you are defining and understanding it, and second, how each work specifically connects to the theme; one at a time. Explain exactly what the theme…what your angle is on the theme, and how are you understanding? Then, in order, explain how it is present in each work. Please be specific.Take your time and remember that each paragraph should be a single subject/idea…so avoid paragraphs that are over one page in length.
Conclusion Paragraph: Conclusions can be annoying, and I understand that! Often a writer feels that s/he/they has/have to say something profound or new. That is not the case. Common mistakes in conclusions are repeating what has already been said and/or the brining up of new material or new ideas in an effort to show the greater possibilities and connections of your study. Avoid that, stick tight to your main goal, material, and message. There is enough in that alone to form conclusions and reiterate main points and clarify the importance of your paper. This is the moment where you provide insight into what you think is valuable and important about your project, what you would like your reader to leave remembering or what final thoughts you want her/him to have.
*Things to Remember:
-Themes and Connections: The way you make the connection he works does not have to be literal and is up to you. For example, if you have a painting of a tree you do not need to think about finding another work of a tree. Instead, consider how you are going to interpret the tree, does it represent family, growth, vegetarianism, global warming concerns, a love of plants, a lack of nature in the city, a memory of a vacation? Etc. It is up to you. Just let the reader know what your interpretation is.
-Complex Works: If you pick something that has many parts/stories, only describe one of those parts, and if you pick something that represents a famous person, story, or event, DO NOT spend the paper explaining any of those things at length (a basic clarification is fine); remember, this is about the work. There is nothing worse than a paper that copies and pastes historical or biographical information. This is an art history paper. It is about how art can help us better understand history and ourselves, so it MUST first and foremost spend time with and be about the art in order to, then, have revelations and make connections.
-Plagiarism: If you copy and paste from online sources, or from books, or simply reword the words of someone is, it is called plagiarizing and you will fail. I will check for this. You want the paper to reflect YOU, YOUR excellent descriiptions, ideas, and observations, and YOUR specific opinions and point of view. That is yours and yours alone and NONE of that information can be found on-line, in another person’s words or in a single, flat, reproduced image on a screen or in a book. Think of it this way…write a paper that could NOT be found anywhere else; it comes only from your mind.
-Citation: The paper does not require additional sources. If you choose to use sources, you MUST cite them. You can use Chicago or MLA citation styles; whichever you choose, just do it correctly and be consistent. Other reminders: Titles of works of art are always capitalized, in italics or underlined, and artists’ names are first introduced in full, and then only the last name is necessary for reference and identification.
-Pictures: You do not need to an include of the works unless you want to. Remember, an image is not needed because your descriiption of the work was so thorough and vivid and filled with explicit, specific descriiptions that your reader got an image in his/her head of what the work looked like from that. If you include images, please do so AT THE END of the essay and do NOT include images within the essay.
*Logistics: This paper should be a minimum of 5 pages long, which does NOT include the cover page, museum information page, any images or a citation page. It should must be double spaced, 12pt. font, with proper academic margins (about 1 inch). The paper will be submitted in “First Paper” in Assignments on our Canvas page.
***Have fun! This is such a cool assignment and a great time to go to the museum…even if it is through our screens!
Due: MARCH 7 – NO LATE PAPERS ACCEPTED (but please stay in touch with me about your paper progress and if you find you are having any problems or concerns).
That’s it!
***Here are the categories and websites: Often these websites require you scrolling down the page to open more works, as well as clicking on next page at the bottom where there is an arrow. The point is to look at as many works as possible, so please do not just use what is on the first page of these sites. Click on images and groups and next page and more.
Note – You cannot use any object we have covered in class, and no jewelry, weapons, clothing, coins or furniture can be used. You MUST choose a painting or a sculpture.
*ALWAYS scroll down the entire page, click on where it says More or View All, etc. Category I
-Egyptian Art – Please keep scrolling down and be sure to visit all of the pages, so click on NEXT at the bottom of the page when you are done with it. Please do this for every page. Again, NO coins, jewelry, metal, clothing or weapons. –
-Art of the Americas – You cannot pick a work past the year 1700 – Please click on each geographical location and see what the works in each section look like. They are all very different, so this is important to do. The “Contemporary Art” tab cannot be used – (Links to an external site.)
-Arts of Africa – Arts of Africa – BE SURE to scroll down to where it says FULL COLLECTION, and then to click on “Show More” at the bottom of the page –
-Asian Art – Please srcoll down and click on every page; if you click on 100 results per page, at the botton of the screen, there are only TWO pages. Please NO coins, jewelry, urns, stupas, caskets, linga, or wheels. –!?offset=100&perPage=100
Category II
-Ancient Near Eastern Art – No ceremonial objevcts, cult objects, disks, tubs, filials, weapons or jewelry. PLEASE scroll through ALL the pages, listed at the bottom; they get mroe inetresting and varied with each page –
– Greek and Roman Art – BE SURE to scroll down the entire page; as you scroll down more works appear –
-Medieval Art – The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cloisters, PLEASE look at ALL of the pages, which are listed by number at the bottom of the page –
-Islamic Art – Please type in 100 where it lets you choose the search number and keep scrolling down –


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