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Please write a short, two-page paper on one of the five topics below, demonstrating your ability to perform a visual analysis as well as integrate broader themes from this course in a discussion of a particular work of art. You must submit two full pages of double-spaced text; illustrations do not count towards the two-page requirement. Points will be deducted for essays falling short of the two-page requirement. Although illustrations do not count toward the two-page requirement, it is recommended that you include an illustration of your selected artwork(s) on the first page. Illustrations must have captions like the ones you have seen on this Moodle web site, or on the PowerPoints of my lectures. Attempts to manipulate (increase) margins or use font sizes larger than 12 pt. will also result in the deduction of points. Your paper must have your name on it and a title. “Visual Analysis Paper” is not a title. It is your responsibility to come up with a title that captures the essence of what you have to say. Points will be deducted for papers without names and/or titles. Please consult the list of topics below and the grading rubric for this assignment. Although it is recommended that you collect some background information, this is not a research paper. Thus, a “works cited” page or a bibliography are not formally required, but you need to provide your sources in some form, especially if you have direct quotes. Topic Choice #1: Egypt, Ancient and Modern Ancient Egyptian civilization and its monuments exercised an ongoing fascination from Ancient Rome and Renaissance Italy, to the age of Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian Campaign (1798-1801) and Howard Carter’s discovery of King Tut’s tomb (1922). Eventually, it became integrated into the Pop cultures of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. For this essay, you can either select and analyze a monument from ancient Egypt itself, or an artwork/monument from later centuries that was inspired by ancient Egyptian civilization. Note that the monument(s)/artwork(s) you analyze do not need to have been covered in class. The essay should: Include information about historical, geographical, and cultural contexts; if known, the artists or architects, their lives, geographic origins and inspirations can be discussed Identify technique (from building materials for architecture to oil on canvas for a painting), title, date, dimensions (only if known) Engage visual information provided by the work of art itself: Describe what you see and interpret this visual information. Point out the historical context and inherent aesthetic qualities of the work. Ask yourself questions such as this: What defined the Egyptian style? Why did ancient Egypt exercise such a strong fascination over so many centuries? How did other regions and cultures see ancient Egypt? Write in clear and grammatically correct English. Full sentences only. Examples of later reinterpretation of Egyptian monuments/ artworks may include: the Pyramid of Cestius in ancient Rome, the Bembine tablet, Athanasius Kircher’s Oedipus Aegyptiacus (1652-1654), attempts in Renaissance Italy to imitate Egyptian hieroglyphics, depictions of Biblical scenes (f. ex. the Carraccis’ Flight into Egypt), the Napoleonic Description of Egypt, Gros’ Napoleon in the Pesthouse of Jaffa (1804), Alma-Tadema’s The Finding of Moses (1904), Jacob Bigelow’s Egyptian Revival Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA (1843), or even The Luxor hotel in Las Vegas (1994). Topic Choice #2: Peasants and Rural Life in Art Although today, only about 10% of the workforce is employed in agriculture, until the beginning of the twentieth century, this figure stood much higher, often at above 50%. Agriculture and the securing of food supply therefore played a much larger part in economic and social life, which is also reflected in art. From the 17th to the 20th century hundreds of thousands of artworks were created portraying peasants and capturing the agricultural base on civilization. More often than not, interesting social issues were implied by these depictions. Select one artwork shown in class – or one that you have discovered on your own – that is appropriate for the subject. Include information about the artist or creator; mention/discuss materials and techniques used, title, date, dimension Engage visual information provided by the work of art in the analysis. Does the work tell a story? If so, what is it? Point out the historical context and inherent aesthetic qualities of the work. Use some of the broader art historical themes and their underlying concepts introduced in class. Write in clear and grammatically correct English. Full sentences only. Examples of artworks that may be appropriate for this purpose: Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Peaceful Country, from Effects of Good Government in the City and in the Country, Sala della Pace, Palazzo, Pubblicco, Siena, 1338-1339, fresco Jacob van Ruisdael, View of Haarlem from the Dunes at Overveen, ca. 1670, oil on canvas David Teniers (although not covered in class, feel free to discover one of this “Golden Age” painter’s compositions by yourself) Louis Le Nain, Family of Country People, ca. 1640, oil on canvas Jean-François Millet, The Gleaners, 1857, oil on canvas Grant Wood, American Gothic, 1930 Topic Choice #3: École des Beaux-Arts The École des Beaux-Arts was a major influence on the production on nineteenth-century academic art. Identify one artist, designer, or architect who studied at the École des Beaux-Arts between ca. 1800 and 1970. Select an artwork (painting, sculpture, print, etc.) or a built structure by this creator and discuss how notions of academic aesthetics influenced it. The essay should address the following: When did the artist/architect/creator study at the École des Beaux-Arts? Who were his or her teachers? (Note that there were tens of thousands of art and architecture students who attended the École des Beaux-Arts over time and who came from all parts of the world). Mention/discuss materials used, title, date, dimensions. Engage visual information provided by the work of art itself: Describe what you see and interpret this visual information. What is the content or story of the artwork? In what historical style was the building designed? What are the historical precedents the creator sought to evoke? Where do you see the aesthetic influences of academic teaching and academic rules in the artwork/built structure you selected (for instance, classical subject matter or “finish” in painting, a certain type of plan and use of architectural decoration in architecture)? (Note that the adjective “academic,” in this context, refers to the ideas perpetuated by the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris) How did your artist/architect/creator evolve over time? Did he or she reject academic rules or perpetuate them? How did he or she find their own voice? Write in clear and grammatically correct English. Full sentences only. Topic Choice #4: Does Art Imitate Nature? Roger de Piles and the Imitation of Nature. In 1708, the French art critic Roger de Piles wrote: “The essence of painting is the imitation of visible objects through form and color. From that observation one must conclude that painting imitates strongly and faithfully Nature; the better job it [painting] does towards this end, which is to seduce the eye, the more is reveals its true purpose.” Select one artwork, which, in your opinion, illustrates this statement. The artwork may or may not have been shown in class. Include information about the artist or creator. Mention/discuss materials and techniques used, title, date, dimension Engage visual information provided by the work of art in the analysis. What does the artwork depict? Does the work tell a story? If so, what is it? Point out the historical context and inherent aesthetic qualities of the work. Use some of the broader art historical themes and their underlying concepts introduced in class. Write in clear and grammatically correct English. Full sentences only. Topic Choice #5: Cities and the Urban Experience in Art and Architecture In the 1920s, American painter Georgia O’Keeffe commented: “Today, the city is something bigger, more complex than ever before in history. And nothing can be gained from running away. I couldn’t even if I could.” Select one artwork or architectural monument which illustrates this statement. The artwork or monument may or may not have been shown in class (it does not need to be by O’Keeffe at all). The essay should: Include information about historical, geographical, and cultural contexts; the artists or architects, their lives, geographic origins and inspirations can be discussed Identify technique (from building materials for architecture to oil on canvas for a painting), title, date, dimensions (only if known) Engage visual information provided by the work of art itself: Describe what you see and interpret this visual information. Point out the historical context and inherent aesthetic qualities of the work. Ask yourself questions such as this: What makes this structure or composition modern? Why do we associated cities and urban life with the modern experience? How the individual and the large, anonymous city interact? Write in clear and grammatically correct English. Full sentences only. Examples may include works of the Impressionist painters in France from the 1870s and 1880s; the evolution of skyscraper architecture; the contributions of world fairs to modern art and architecture; structures by Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson; paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Boutet de Monvel, Charles Sheeler, etc. No plagiarism please.

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