Write an essay (1000–1200 words) discussing how and why a modern or contemporary artist (i.e., twentieth- or twenty-first-century artist) reimagines a past artwork or category of artworks to shine light on a larger issue (e.g., race, gender, class). You may choose your own artwork or one of the artworks in the list at the bottom of this assignment description.

Before you begin writing, look at the contemporary artwork and its model(s) and determine which of the following categories lead to meaningful comparisons:

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physical properties (shape, size, materials, and technique)
visual elements (e.g., line, shape, light, form/modeling, color, texture)
composition (overall arrangement, axes, organization, or structure of an image)
themes, subjects, and symbols
cultural, economic, or political contexts

For an example of how meaningful comparisons might look, read this analysis of Chris Jordan’s Gyre (2009):


Begin with a brief description of the modern or contemporary artwork (medium, subject), who the artist is, and why the work was created.
Describe the specific work(s) or category of works that your artist is reimagining.
Conclude the introduction with a thesis statement, which should present an argument about what the artist hoped to accomplish in reimagining one or more past artworks. Your thesis statement should be an arguable claim that you then support with evidence from (a) your analysis of the artwork you have chosen, and (b) your comparison of the contemporary artwork and the work(s) that inspired it.


Dedicate individual paragraphs (at least three) to different points of comparison between the contemporary artwork and its inspiration. Remember to relate your comparisons back to your thesis statement: What are the deliberate similarities and dissimilarities that are meant to achieve a specific goal or make a specific point?


Summarize what the analysis reveals about the particular modern or contemporary work.


Students must follow the formatting guidelines
to receive full credit.

Although I recommend using the Chicago Manual of Style
Links to an external site.
for your citations, you may choose a different style as long as you are consistent throughout.

Possible Artworks (for students who do not want to choose their own):

One of the Kent Monkman paintings commissioned for the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
(Links to an external site.)

One or more pieces from this 2017 series of photographs for Harper’s Bazaar:
(Links to an external site.)

An artwork by Yasumasa Morimura:
(Links to an external site.)


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