Typically, an in-person visit to a museum or gallery is required. However, due to the unusual circumstances this semester, I am encouraging virtual visits. You are certainly welcome to go to the MFAH if you feel comfortable doing so. The experience of artwork in person is much different than on a screen- scale, texture, and the presence of a work are hard to translate digitally. Go on a virtual visit to a Houston-area museum or gallery. Links and recommendations are included on a separate page in the last module. Take notes on what you are drawn to, and choose any work of art in the museum to write about- it can be a painting, sculpture, work on paper, a photograph, etc. Ideally it will be something that you like and can write about in length! Write a two-page, double spaced formal analysis. Simply put, a formal analysis describes the visual appearance in detail. Imagine that there are no photographs of the work, and the reader must rely on your written description to imagine it. The paper should include what is present in the work that you see. Avoid overly general language, and elaborate on specific observations. Do not critique the work or write about your personal opinions in this paper; instead, constructively analyze its formal qualities, using the elements of art and principles of design. Use the elements of art to support the principles of design. Consider the principles as the “what”, and the elements as the “how”. Not every term may apply to your work. Choose at least five that stand out the most to elaborate on. You can also discuss the content of the work and what it means to you. Attach an image of the work in your assignment (it does not count towards the length requirement.
The introduction to the paper must include where the artwork is located, the title of the work, the artist, and when and where it was made.
Elements of Art
Line: varieties of line: contour, cross contour, hatching, cross hatching, implied. Outlines. Expressive lines vs. rigid lines.
Space: shape vs. mass. Negative and positive space. Methods to create three dimensionality on a flat surface: use of shadows, use of overlapping, linear perspective (1, 2 or 3 point), foreshortening, oblique projection, trompe l’ oeil, figure ground reversal.
Light: Value (scale from darkest to lightest), contrast, chiaroscuro, atmospheric perspective. Additive process (if you choose to use a video work or light installation)
Color: Hue, local color, saturation, tint, shade, tone, brightness, color scheme (analogous, complimentary, monochromatic, etc), color temperature (warm vs. cool), successive contrast, simultaneous contrast, optical mixing (pointillism), “readings” of colors.
Texture: surface. Actual (physical), invented, and implied (visual).
Pattern: repetitive motif or design. Can be decorative.
Time and Motion: Narrative or story telling; a frozen moment in time, or actual movement (of the work itself, or the viewer having to move to view the work due to its size)
Principles of Design
Balance – Symmetrical, Asymmetrical, and Radial
Emphasis and Focal Point
Scale and Proportion
Repetition and Rhythm
Variety and Unity *Unity: The sense of oneness, of things belonging together and making up a coherent whole.
Clear and specific analysis of the chosen work; the paper includes a proper introduction and image; writing is free of spelling and grammatical errors; meets length requirement. The writing discusses at least five formal terms.
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