ARTS 1A Analysis paper assignment (Museum or public art)
Option 1: Analyze a work of art in a museum or in your neighborhood (a work of public art,
such as a mural or monument) in relation to the art and ideas explored in the ARTS 1A modules.
This assignment is a skills-building exercise designed to help you analyze a work of art you
study in person during the present quarter.
You must choose a work of art that you analyze with your own eyes while you take ARTS
1A this quarter. You may not choose a work of art you have seen or studied in the past, unless
you can see it again as you write your paper over the next few weeks. Also, you must choose an
original work of art study—not a work that has been digitized. As such, visiting an “immersive
experience” exhibition would not be an adequate choice for this assignment.
Your finished paper should be approximately 6 pages in length (not counting the title page);
typed, using a 12-point font; and double spaced, with one-inch margins. You will need to upload
your paper in Canvas as a Word document or as a pdf.
This is not a research paper. If you look closely at the grading rubric below, you will see that
no points are awarded for how much knowledge you acquire about the artist. Rather, this
assignment requires that you consider your chosen work of art in relation to the ideas and works
of art we have explored in the ARTS 1A modules.
Analysis of a selected work of art or architecture, the subject of your paper 10
Detailed analysis of five or more works of art discussed in the Topic presentations 15
Use of one or more documents discussed in class 3
Use of one or more reading exercises discussed in class 3
Use of one or more spotlight on technique videos discussed in class 3
Clarity with which you communicate ideas 3
Thoroughness with which you complete the prompts in Step 3 (below) 3
To receive credit for this assignment you must include a photograph of the work of art or
architecture you have chosen to analyze. Include this photograph on your title page.
If you choose to analyze a work of art that is labeled or has an explanatory panel next to it, use
only the basic identification information (artist’s name, title of work, date of work, and
technique/materials). For the purposes of this paper, your ideas should be your own. Do not rely
on the ideas of those who wrote label(s) placed next to the works of art you are writing about.
Identify a work of art or architecture in your neighborhood on which to base your analysis.
Bring your notebook to the site where the work is located. Using a pencil (it is always better to
work in pencil rather than pen when you are taking notes near a work of art) and this assignment
sheet, use the questions in the next step (Step 3) to take notes about your chosen work.
Consider the following as you take notes:
a. Look carefully at the surface of the work of art or architecture. How would you assess
its physical condition? Does it look like it is it in good condition? Are there problems
with the condition? Do you see evidence that the work of art or architecture has been
damaged or become dirty over time?
b. Provide the basic identification information for this work, including: the name of the
artist, if known; the title; the date (or dates) it was made; and the technique and
materials used to produce it.
Note especially the date that the work of art was made. Compare it to a work of
art discussed in class from the same period, or close to the same year. Ask, “How
is this work different from one discussed in class from the same era? How it is
similar?” Also ask, “What factors might explain the similarities? What factors
might explain the differences between these two works?”
c. How would you categorize the subject of the work of art you have chosen to analyze?
Landscape? History? Portraiture? Genre? Still life? Non-representational?
Compare it to a work discussed in class to determine its subject type. Write about
their similarities and differences.
d. What techniques/materials/tools were used to produce this work?
Compare it to a work discussed in class to determine the techniques/material/tools
used to complete it.
e. What elements of art and principles of design make this work of art visually
Compare it to a work discussed in class to be able to understand more clearly the
ways in which the artists or architects used the elements of art and principles of
design to make these works visually powerful.
f. What might have been the function of this work before you noticed it? Do you think
it was commissioned by a patron? Why or why not? If so, what type of person or
institution might have commissioned this work? If you do not think that a patron
commissioned this work, why do you think the artist made it? What meaning might
this work have had for the artist or architect? What meaning does it hold for you?
Compare it to works of art discussed in class as you address these questions.
g. As you conclude your observations, address this key question:
How does your chosen work of art help you better understand one or more
works of art discussed in ARTS 1A?
Make a photograph of your chosen work of art to include on the title page of your paper.
Write your paper.
a. In your introduction, describe the work you are analyzing as well as the name of the
artist and the location of the work. Acknowledge the date(s) you studied the work with
your own eyes. Assess its physical condition.
b. In the body of your paper, compare the work you are analyzing to five comparative
works of art as you the address questions in Step 3.
c. To support your ideas, bring in at least one reference to a document (for up to 3 points),
at least one reference to a reading assignment (for up to 3 points), and at least one
reference to a spotlight on technique video (for up to 3 points).
You do NOT need to cite these references with footnotes, but you must call attention
to these references in the narrative of your paper. To do so, use language similar to these
examples: “According to Damon Austin, who narrated the video, ‘Bronze Casting
Techniques in the Ancient World’ produced by the Norton Simon Museum of Art . . .” or
“According to art historian William Steinberg in his book, Leonardo’s Key Works, . . .”
When you quote from the documents, readings, and videos, always state the name of
the person whom you are quoting, and place their words within “quotation marks.”
d. In your conclusion, provide a response to the key question:
How does your chosen work of art help you better understand one or more works
of art discussed in ARTS 1A?
e. Communicate your ideas clearly, in traditional essay format, with an introduction, body,
and conclusion. Do not write in bullet points. Instead, communicate your ideas in
complete sentences, separating your main ideas with paragraph breaks.
f. Be thorough. Choose a wide range of works of art, documents, reading assignments, and
videos to support your ideas about the work of art you are analyzing in the museum.
g. Produce a title page for your paper which includes your own name and a photograph of
the work of art you analyzed. The title page should not be counted in the overall page
count of your paper, which should be around six pages.
Upload your paper to Canvas as a pdf or Word document.
Your paper should be representative of your best college work. It should address every question
asked within this assignment.
Papers that contain plagiarized content will receive an F, without exception. If you are unclear
what comprises plagiarism, review the “Academic Dishonesty” section of the course syllabus.
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