PLEASE READ THE GUIDELINES CAREFULLY! 

 

I HAVE CHOSEN THE ARTWORK THAT YOU WILL BE DOING THE VISUAL ANALYSIS. SEE THE PICTURES ATTACHED; YOU CAN ALSO USE THE LINK FOR A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WHERE THE ARTWORK IS PLACED AND MORE! 

https://www.moma.org/collection/works/78333?artist_id=2963&page=1&sov_referrer=artist

 

VISUAL ANALYSIS PAPER GUIDELINES

 The objective of this short written assignment is to engage you in critical analysis of forms and visual information. You will describe the work and collect visual data – taking notes will be important. After this, you will propose an interpretation of the meaning of the work: what does the artist convey? Think of abstract concepts, ideas. Below is a recommended method. 

 

Spend some time looking at it from every possible angle (making a sketch can be useful). Take lots of notes on all the visual characteristics and elements you see. Think about the work’s lines, shapes, color, texture, composition, scale, materials, technique, etc. Identify the object’s subject matter as well as its representational style (abstract, realist, expressionist, geometric, etc). 

 Also think of the genre or technique of the object (portraiture, landscape, mosaic, metalwork). You will need as much information as possible once you start thinking of a thesis or claim about the meaning of the object that you want to write about. 

 Write down the thoughts and feelings that the work instills in you. You are a viewer and the artists always take into account the viewer. If you see the work in person (museum, gallery, street), take notes about the relationship of the work with its surroundings. Is it well placed? Does it disrupt the space or inhabit it harmoniously? 

 These notes are VERY IMPORTANT. You are beginning to write through these notes, which are your visual evidence, and this is the best way to find your own voice. Be very careful to use your own words and ideas! 

 

HERE ARE SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN WRITING A FORMAL ANALYSIS: 

Keep in mind that you always need to Back Up Your Statements! 

1.     Record your first impression(s) of the artwork. What stands out? Is there a focal point (an area to which the artist wants your eye to be drawn)? If so, what formal elements led you to that area? Your impressions can help you reach your THESIS about its MEANING.

2.     What is the Subject matter of the artwork? What concepts or ideas are explored in it?

3.     Composition: How are the parts of the work arranged? Is there a stable or unstable composition? Is it dynamic? Full of movement? Or is it static?

4.     Pose: If the work has figures, are the proportions believable? Realistic? Describe the pose(s). Is the figure active, calm, graceful, stiff, tense, or relaxed? Does the figure convey a mood? If there are several figures, how do they relate to each other (do they interact? not?)? Remember “pose” is the relationship of parts to one another, “stance” is the arrangement of the feet, and “posture” is skeletal.

5.     Proportions:  Does the whole or even individual parts of the figure(s) or natural objects in the work look natural? Why did you come to this conclusion?

6.     Line: Are the outlines (whether perceived or actual) smooth, fuzzy, clear? Are the main lines vertical, horizontal, diagonal, or curved, or a combination of any of these? Are the lines jagged and full of energy? Sketchy? Geometric? Curvilinear? Bold? Subtle?

7.     Space: If the artist conveys space, what type of space is used? What is the relation of the main figure to the space around it? Are the main figures entirely within the space (if the artwork is a painting), or are parts of the bodies cut off by the edge of the artwork? Is the setting illusionistic, as if one could enter the space of the painting, or is it flat and two-dimensional, a space that one could not possibly enter?

8.     Texture: If a sculpture, is the surface smooth and polished or rough? Are there several textures conveyed? Where and How? If a painting, is there any texture to the paint surface? Are the brushstrokes invisible? Brushy? Sketchy? Loose and flowing? Or tight and controlled?

9.     Light and Shadow: Are shadows visible? Where? Are there dark shadows, light shadows, or both? How do the shadows affect the work?

10.  Scale or Size: How big is the artwork? Are the figures or objects in the work life-sized, larger or smaller than life? How does the size affect the work? Remember “size” is a quantitative number while “scale” is the relationship of the work to the human body.

11.  Color: What colors are used in the work? Bright? Dull? Complimentary? Does the artist use colors to draw your attention to specific areas of the work? How? If a sculpture, examine the color(s) of the medium and how it affects the work.

12.  Mood: Do you sense an overall mood in the artwork? Perhaps several different moods? If so, describe them. How does the mood interpret how you view the work?

Once you have spent some time analyzing your work, notice if your first impression of the work has changed. How? If you came up with a thesis statement before doing this in-depth analysis, you may want to change it if your impression of the work has changed.

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