PUBLIC ART / MUSEUM ASSIGNMENT
The assignment involves a close visual analysis of an original work of art that you have seen in person
(not internet images or reproductions will work for this assignment)
DUE THE LAST DAY OF CLASS
Include the following:
1. The final paper should be typed in ESSAY FORMAT, and should run about two pages, but
could be longer depending on the work of art you choose.
2. Include the title of the work, artist, and date, as well as the name of the Gallery/Museum you
3. Try to include a photocopy of the work of art if available (you can take a no flash photo in
some museums or galleries, or find the image on the internet but you must see it in person
INFORMATION/QUESTIONS FOR THE PAPER:
After you have chosen the work that you like, write down the name of the place where you viewed the
work, the artist’s name, title of the work, date, medium, and any background information on placards on
walls or pamphlets.
Then you begin your description of the work:
- What is the subject of the work? What event is depicted (the title can help you, but you may need
further research to get all the details of the narrative. For now, get as much as you can through
- How is the work represented? Is it realistic, idealized, naturalistic, stylized, abstract, nonrepresentational, etc?
- Is this a large or a small work? Does the size affect the impression this work made on you?
- Then describe each and every single detail of the work. It has to be so specific that someone who has
never seen the work can reconstruct it from your written report. In your description discuss color,
lines, shapes, what figures are portrayed, and how the overall composition affects your impression of
- What kind of texture does the work have? Is it rough, smooth, etc. Can you see the brushstrokes? If
this work had a different texture, how would it change the 'feel' (PLEASE DON'T TOUCH AND
ONLY POINT AT ART FROM AT LEAST A FOOT AWAY) of the work?
- How has the artist put the composition together: what do you see in the foreground, middle ground,
- What types of lines are portrayed and how to they affect the overall impression of the work
(movement, stability, excitement, drama, etc.).
- What do you see from left to right and from top to bottom?
- Does the work appear 3-dimensional or 2-dimensional?
- For sculpture is it in the round or relief, and does that affect how your impression of the work?
- Is what you see in the work evenly distributed or are figures/objects/colors lumped on one side of the
- What colors does the artist use and how are they distributed?
- What visual impact do the colors have?
Is there a focal point within the work? Does the artist draw your attention to a particular aspect of the
work and what affect does that have on you?
How does the artist use light in this work? Is it evenly distributed, or is it dramatic with stark
contrasts between light and dark?
Is three-dimensional perspective shown in this work? If yes, how? If no, why not, do you think?
Does the frame around the work make a difference in the effect it has on you?
Does the space where it is exhibited make a difference in the effect it has on you?
Where is the 'best' place to stand to see this work? Near or far, at an angle (from the other room
sometimes even gives you a really different look). Try different heights (standing in front of it,
From what angle did the artist approach his subject? Are you at eye-level with the subjects/objects in
the work? Are you higher or lower?
INCLUDE A BRIEF CRITIQUE OF THE WORK, WHY YOU CHOSE IT, DO YOU FEEL
THE FORMAL ELEMENTS ENHANCE THE CONTENT, ETC.
Allow at least 45 minutes for this exercise. You will find that if you look at a work that you like for a
long time, you will see more and more things that you didn't notice before.
Look consciously: it means that you are alert and see with more than just your eyes. Try to 'grasp' the
work. See if you can have a dialogue with the work: you respond to it as it responds to you.
Write down anything else that you think is important in respect to the work you have chosen.
Almost always, you are allowed to take a photograph of the works, as long as you don't use flash
(PLEASE RESPECT THIS RESTRICTION). Otherwise, see if you can find a postcard of the work to
take home with you to refresh your memory as you continue on your paper or project. Sometimes you
can buy a printout of the work of art. The visual analysis must be done in the actual presence of the
work you have chosen.
The final paper should be typed, and should run about two pages. Include the title of the work, artist,
and date, as well as the Museum you visited. The last day to turn in the paper is the day of the
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