Museum Paper


This paper is designed to allow you to explore two works of art in person and in greater depth. The assignment has 2 parts, a visual analysis and a comparison.

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art, select two objects from the periods we are covering this semester, that are similar in theme/subject. Examples of themes — landscapes, portraits, mothers & children, war, city life, etc. 

The first part of the paper should be a visual analysis of the works. Where it pertains, your analysis should consider the following:

Composition and space – how is the work organized; what path does your eye follow; if it is a 3D object, how do you approach the work

“Realism” – is the work convincing visually, or are there distortions, is the subject idealized, is it treated naturalistically, and why

If you are looking at a sculpture, think about the material(s) used and how that affects the appearance, carving, etc.

If you are looking at a painting, a sculpture, or a tapestry, consider –

Color – warm or cool, pastel or intense, how varied is the palette and to what effect;

Light – is the light source indicated, how can you tell, are there strong highlights, or is the lighting more even;

Technique – what technique is used, how is the paint applied, and to what effect;

In the second part of your paper, compare the two works – how did the artists treat the subjects and what differences do you observe? How do these differences affect your interpretation of the subject?  What do you think the artists were trying to convey?

As a guiding principle – first analyze, or identify the artists’ intentions, and be sure that your stylistic discussion supports your thesis, i.e., when you do discuss these disparate issues, be sure to deal not only with what the artists have done, but also why; try to account for the reason the artists depicted particular details or employed these stylistic features. 

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