Compare & Contrast two ART works

Based on a “virtual” trip to the Permanent Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this approximately 3-5-page formal and contextual analysis of 2 objects. PLEASE INCLUDE BIBLIOGRAPHY AND PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE ARTWORK CHOSEN AT THE END OF THE PAPER.

You will write a comparative analysis of two works of art of your choice selected from the Permanent Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art viewed on the museum website. The two artworks chosen should united by a theme and should fall within the dates and cultures covered in this course (1300 CE to 1900 CE). The two art works should also be from two different cultures to provide a nice contrast.
Use the Met search engine to select your works. (Links to an external site.)
You will discuss the works in light of ONE of the following topics or from a topic of your own design
Power, Politics, and Glory (includes political and military leaders, war scenes, or art about peace)
Social Constructions of Gender (which can include art depicting couples, sex and sexuality, fertility, and offspring)
The Body (includes portraits, self-portraits, sickness and death)
Class (includes art that depicts luxuries of the ruling class, workers at work, the plight of the poor)
Renaissance versus The Baroque
The Academy v. avant-garde
Assignment Objectives:
To integrate formal analysis and contextual analysis of two objects from two different cultures at The Met
Show development of ideas within paragraphs with a introductory thesis, visual evidence, and conclusion
Convince the reader that you saw them physically (as well as you can–try to get a hi-res image and zoom in!)
Conduct some research on contextual information using outside sources
Objectify your perspective on two works of art
Conduct a compare/contrast on formal analysis and cultural context of the two artworks

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Two artworks must be from the permanent collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art selected from the website and must be from two different cultural periods that we will have studied (dates should range from 1300 CE to 1880 CE). You must identify the 2 works of art by artist, title, date, and medium within your paper.

Papers should include a full bibliography with photographs of the two selected art works at the end of the paper. Photographs should be labeled by artist, title, year, medium, and location. If you do not include the photographs of your selected art works, paper will be marked down -10.

Choosing your images:
Visit the “search the collections” link on the Met website (link is in the Met Paper folder). Type the name of your chosen objects into the search bar.
Link to the Met website:!?q=

Questions to ask of an artwork while constructing formal analysis:
Medium. Why is the artist using this particular medium? What are its advantages? Its limitations?
Lines. Are the lines thick or thin? Largely vertical or horizontal? Straight or curved? What is achieved by this particular use of line?
Color. Is the color realistic or expressive? Warm or cool? Bright or muted? And to what effect?
Light. How is light used? How is shadow used? Is there any play between the two? What is communicated to the viewer?
Space. What is the sense of space in the work you’ve chosen? Is there great depth, or is the visual plane shallow? How are the elements of the work configured in that space? How does the sense of space affect the subject matter? Affect your response to the work?
Composition. How do the various formal elements of the work interact? How does the composition convey the work’s theme or idea? How does the eye move across the piece? How does the composition control that movement?
Style. What elements of the composition work to constitute the artist’s style? The style of the period in which the artist was/is working?
Brushstroke. Can you detect the hand of the artist? Are the brushstrokes smooth or rough? Were they applied with a controlled hand or spontaneously? What effect does this have on the work?
Condition. Is the work in good condition? Are there any unfinished areas? Are there cracks in the paint? Are there any tears or scratches? What kind of frame is it in? How is it installed on the wall?

Additional Formal Elements for Sculpture:
What type of sculpture is it? Is it in-the-round, high-relief, low-relief, or sunken relief? What material is it created from? Is the texture smooth or rough?
Scale-how large is it?
Space and Mass

Questions to ask of the culture while conducting research/contextual analysis:
(I recommend 2-3 outside sources. Outside sources include the textbook and other art history books, the Met website, textpanels, audioguides, and other academic websites. No wikipedia,, or personal blogs!)
Who commissioned it?
What was the function?
What does the medium reveal about the time period/ culture?
What is the effect on the viewer?
What values or messages about the culture does it reveal?

When you begin to see links between the formal elements and the larger issues of content and context, these connections are what should form the basis of your argument and thesis statement, in other words, what does each work reveal about the culture in which they were made? Start to organize the order in which you will present your evidence to the reader to prove your point. Eliminate any irrelevant mentions of formal elements that fail to further your argument.

The analysis is to be based primarily on your own observations. Outside research, properly cited, for the historical and contextual analysis is recommended but the visual observations should be your own. This is not a research paper!
Thus as the first stage of your work, you should think hard about as many aspects of the work as is possible. Consider the subject matter, color, application of paint, brushstroke, and/or style, composition, manipulation of space or emphasis on flatness, balance or asymmetry, etc. Then connect how each of these elements serve to advance the subject or function that the artist is addressing. In what ways does the work reflect and express the broader aesthetic, philosophical, and social concerns of the period in which it is made? How does it relate to its broader historical context?
As the second stage of the work, you should compare the two works in relation to each other, keeping the theme or topic you’ve chosen foremost in your mind.

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