Does the whole or even individual parts of the figure(s) or natural objects in the work look natural?

Select ONE of the following listed works of art. Analysis papers submitted using a work of art other than one of those listed will not be accepted.

The Approach of Krishna. c. 1600 – 1670. Pahari region, India. Basophil style. Fig. 18.10, pg. 309.
Thomas Cole. The Oxbow. 1836. Fig. 21.6, pg. 365.
Vincent van Gogh. The Sower. 1888. Fig. 21.29, pg. 384.
Pablo Picasso. Violin, Fruit, and Wineglass. 1913. Fig. 22.17, pg. 403.
Diego Rivera. The Liberation of the Peon. 1931. Fig. 23.18, pg. 423.


In the first paragraph, called the introduction, you will include:

The name of the artist (if known), title (which is underlined or italicized every time you use the title in your paper), date, and medium (if known)
Your interpretation of the subject – what is this piece about?
A very brief description of the work
Thesis statement – usually the last line or so of your first paragraph clarifying the type of paper you are writing.


Your formal analysis should include a description of the piece using terminology (in the order they are listed), and details of the work that have led you to come to some understanding of what the artist is communicating. Your analysis should have a sense of order, moving purposefully through your description, from one term to the next, with regard to each specific element. How do the visual elements and principles of design work within the work of art to create the meaning you are addressing? Remember that your analysis should not be just a mechanical, physical description. Please use descriptive language and adjectives to describe your work.

To aid in writing a formal analysis, you should think as if you were describing the work of art to someone who has never seen it before. What do you see? When your reader finishes reading your analysis, she/he should have a complete mental picture of what the work looks like. This section is the most important part of this assignment.

Your conclusion should consist of a restatement of your thesis and summary of your response to the piece. After your analysis, has your initial interpretation of the meaning changed? If not, how has your analysis reinforced your initial interpretation?

One to two pages (not including title page or images if you choose to include one or either), double-spaced, 10 or 12 point type (Times or Times New Roman only), 1” margins. Make sure you proofread your papers for incorrect grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other errors. In addition, make sure your paper includes a thesis statement. Your grade will reflect your ability to follow these guidelines.

The preferred format to complete the Midterm Paper is Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx). If these formats are not available, other acceptable formats are ASCII (.txt), rich text format (.rtf), and Open Office (.odt).

If you reference a source other than the text, please cite this reference according to the APA or Chicago Manual of Style. The use of any secondary reference without providing citation is plagiarism and will receive a score of 0. Repeated incidents of plagiarism are reported to the Academic Affairs Office and the student receives an “F “grade in the course.

Follow the outlined list of terms below to help in your analysis. Address each – in the order they are listed – and simply fill in your response to how each is used in the piece. Each term you are required to address is in bold type. The additional information included in the outline is there to help you with your observations. Remember, this is an exercise in looking, seeing, and interpreting what you see.

Papers submitted with terms addressed in a random order will be returned for clarification and reorganization, and considered late.
Visual Elements

Line: what types of lines do you see in the piece? Provide examples. 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?
Actual and Implied Line
Shape: what types of shapes do you see? Provide examples.
Geometric Shapes
Organic Shapes
Mass: is mass actual or implied? How is it implied?
Space: how is space created in the piece? 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? Consider the following spatial devices in your analysis:
Two-Dimensional Space
Illusion of Depth – Implied Depth
Overlapping, Diminishing Size, Vertical Placement
Linear perspective
Atmospheric or Aerial Perspective
Time and Motion: are time or motion evident?
Implying Motion – if evident, how is it implied?
Actual Motion
Light: how is the illusion of light created? Are shadows visible? Where? Are there dark shadows, light shadows, or both? How do the shadows affect the work?
Seeing Light
Value (or tone)
Implied Light
Strong Value Contrasts
Minimal Value Contrasts
Light as Medium?
Color: is color important in the piece? How is it used? What type of 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.
Texture: actual or implied? 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?

Principles of Design

Unity and Variety
Balance: how is balance created?
Symmetrical Balance or Asymmetrical Balance
Emphasis and Subordination: what is the focal point?
Emphasis – what is emphasized?
Subordination – what is subordinated?
Directional Forces: do lines or repeated elements create paths for the eyes to follow? Directional forces typically direct our eyes to the area of emphasis.
Contrast: any variation of value, color, or scale, for example, creates contrast.
Repetition and Rhythm
Scale and Proportion: 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? 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?

A reminder: you should conclude your paper (final paragraph) with a restatement of your thesis and summary of your response to the piece. Has your first impression of the work has changed now that you have taken a closer look? 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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