Formal Analysis Paper

For the purposes of this paper, you must travel to a museum that has a collection of works of art from the western world post-Renaissance to view a work of art on display.

Alternatively, if you cannot physically visit a museum, you may visit the digital collections of an established, “brick and mortar” museum. You may also feel free to use the Google Arts & Culture
(Links to an external site.)
website. (If you choose the online visit, you must include the URL for the image you view)

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The geographical and temporal limits of the paper assignment are the same as those of the course.

Some suggestions in Southern California include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Norton Simon Museum, The Getty Center, The San Diego Museum of Art, and The Museum of Contemporary Art. If you live outside of the Southern California area, you may find a museum closer to you that has an appropriate collection.

You will find an object of your choosing and tell me what you see. You will, through the use of descriptive language, illustrate to me what kind of object it is, what it is made of, what are the possible meanings, and how it impacts you. If you choose a piece of sculpture, you should note how it feels to walk around it and experience the object in 3-dimensional space. If you choose a painting, you might want to mention the texture of the painting. There are many ways you can describe your object so please do not worry about the “correct” way. You are being challenged to use your eyes to see what’s in front of you rather than reading about it in a book.

The paper must include a section devoted to a physical description of the object. This physical description should aid the reader in constructing a mental image of your chosen object. You will use that description to formulate analytic conclusions from the visual evidence. You may not always be “correct,” but your ideas need to be grounded in the evidence.

With that in mind, your essay should provide a thesis statement in the introduction that guides the reader to your conclusions about the work. The thesis statement may, in general, answer a question like these: What do I think is the meaning of this work? What is the message that this work or artist sends to the viewer? What is this work all about? The thesis statement prevents your essay from simply describing a work of art.

You will need to tell me the artist, title, date, medium of the object you choose, and what museum you visited.

This paper must be 3 pages of text, typed, double-spaced, 12-point, Times New Roman. Do not adjust margins from the default settings. Do not center-justify. The paper needs to be aligned left (this does not mean you should not indent for each new paragraph).

In addition to your 3 pages of text, all papers must have a title page that is separate from the body of your essay. The title page should include the title of your paper, name, class number, and date. All papers must be stapled.

You are not required to do any outside research but if you do consult an outside source, you must cite it using the Chicago Manual of Style. Failure to do so constitutes plagiarism and will result in a failing grade.

If you have any questions about the assignment, please feel free to contact me before the due date.

We are going to write about this Fra Bartolommeo (Baccio della Porta), Holy Family, c. 1497, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of The Ahmanson Foundation

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