Art History

Contextual analysis is usually the process of discovering the relationship between a work of art and the historical time and place it was created. What factors led to its creation and how did they influence what was created and how it came to be the way it is? Did the work of art have an impact on the culture it was created in and if so, how? Contextual analysis can also investigate some other period of the work of art’s existence, or even, for example, the reasons it was destroyed (if that was intentional). It is distinct from, but based on, close visual analysis and interpretive inquiry, followed by external research to explore possible evidence to support the answer to your research question. Please follow the instructions in this assignment sheet step by step.As with Essay #2, select a work of art of painting, sculpture, architecture or decorative arts within the broad chronological range of this course. Aim for works that are likely to be historical significant or interesting. Feel free to check potential choices with me, by Zoom or email. Start with the images for ideas, but select something that is not in the textbook. I strongly suggest you choose a work of art which is available online on a major museum website or reliable scholarly source. Don’t trust ANY info you find with an image searched through a non-filtered browser like Google Images. You will be using reliable sources such as JStorr (through the HC library), “smarthistory.edu,” the national culture websites of relevant countries. NOTE: You may choose any work of art except those discussed in detail by Stokstad or by us in class.Meet with me to talk over your project, no later than Dec. 4. This appointment is part of the assignment. (NOTE: Don’t wait until the last day. It isn’t physically possible to meet with all of you on one day.)Essay is due Dec. 11.STEP ONE: Preparation–a) Take time to look carefully at your choice, preferably several times. Jot down ten adjectives or generate 25 questions (if you like).c) Pay careful attention to the visual characteristics of your chosen work:Size, shape, proportions; material(s) and visible techniques; light(s) and dark(s); color; lines; major forms-content; mood; unusual conditions or strong internal contrasts among the formal features.d) Read about your work of art—start general and get more specific about your choice (read at least 15 pages, from at least 3 different sources. See me for guidance.e) Form a question about the work of art, its creator, the circumstances of its creation, and/or its social context. We will discuss in class and in individual appointments.STEP TWO: Writing—a) Use your question as the title of the essay;b) start your essay with an organized visual analysis summary of the work of art, at least half a page long;c) write the main body of your essay by using anything you have learned from your reading and looking that helps you answer your question about the art and its context;d) emphasize information that is relevant to your question, and deemphasize information that may be interesting, but not relevant;e) finish your essay with a clear statement of what you believe the answer to your question is;f) use footnotes to credit the source of your information.NOTE:Your sources may disagree about significant information or opinions. That is natural, and it is appropriate to say so.Your written essay should be at least 3 (up to 5) pages long, typed. Due: Dec 11 11:59pm. Please include an image of your subject.Nov 20Third Essay Step #1 Due (Research Question) OK to send it to me by EMAIL: astorr@holycross.edu up to Tues, Nov 24, 11:59pm Dec 2 – 4Third Essay Step #2 Due (Individual Appointment & 3 Resources)Usual Office Hours: Wed 1:15-2:30, Fri 1:15-2:30. Wed. 4-5:30 Reserved for those who can’t make it after class. We will schedule extra OHs on Thursday, if necessary.Dec 5-9Drafts: I will read as many as I can, but don’t wait until the last minute.Dec. 11Third Essay is Due: Dec 11, 11:59pm There will be NO extensions (except for serious, documented emergencies).

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