The Final Paper is worth 200 points. You are required to visit a reputable art museum in your area and select a work of art to discuss and critique in a formal, iconographic, and historical context. Your grade will be based on the depth of your analysis of the subject.
About art criticism
The process of art criticism involves description, formal analysis, interpretation and evaluation. The first step is to describe what you see. Include facts, such as the artists name, the media, size of the piece, and where it is located. Next, analyze. Look at how all the parts of the piece work together. What visual elements and principles of design did the creator use? Subjectively interpret what the content is, taking style into account. Finally, interpret and evaluate the work of art being studied; what do you think the artist’s intentions were? What is being communicated? Does it have value? Can you recognize the aesthetic quality in the work? Include biographical and/or historical information. Evaluation can be a very challenging part of art criticism and requires practice and careful seeing.
Select a museum
First, select a major museum in your area. A listing of some approved museums may be found at the following site: Art Museums Worldwide opens in a new window. If you live in a more rural area or are military and stationed overseas where you cannot visit a museum, contact the instructor to discuss options. An online museum visit may be necessary. However, in-person museum experiences will be prioritized. If the museum you’d like to visit is not on the list, you must get instructor approval.
If a virtual museum is necessary, you may find listings at the following site: Arts and Culture opens in a new window
Select a work of art
The following outline is suggested, but not required:
- Identification: Select a work of art. You may select a piece that you like or dislike. Get all the information provided: artist, title, medium, year, etc. Write down your initial responses. How do you respond to the work? Does it invoke an emotional response? What do you think the artist was trying to communicate? It is helpful to bring a notebook to record your responses.
- Describe the piece and review it carefully. What do you see? Note all the details about the work. How would you describe it to someone you were talking to on the phone who can’t see it?
- Analyze the visual elements and design principles, thinking about the relationship between form, content, and subject matter. This will be helpful in your ‘interpretation’ of the work. Consider context: does it fit into a movement or time period? Consider its place in the artist’s overall output.
- Interpretation Follow your analysis with a subjective interpretation of the meaning of the work. How does the work make you feel? What do you think the content is? Go beyond “I like it” or “I don’t like it.”
- Research the artist. Historical and biographical information on the artist often provides clues into a work’s intended meaning. Carefully consider the purpose and context of the piece. Did the piece you selected have any particular political or cultural message? Was the artist making a statement?
- Evaluate What do you think the artist’s intentions were? Was this communicated? Does it have value? Can you recognize the aesthetic quality in the work?
The paper must be 1500 words, double-spaced, 10- or 12-point type, with 1” margins. The title page, images, and reference/bibliography page do not count toward the required length of paper. The preferred format to complete the Final 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), and PDF. Make sure you proofread your papers for incorrect grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other errors.
A minimum of four sources is required. Research can come from the Internet (reputable, academic sources only) scholarly articles (JSTOR, for example), books on art history, politics, etc.. Sources should be varied and academic and/or professional in nature. Your textbook cannot be one of the four minimum sources but can be included.
Anything that is not considered common knowledge (information that can be found in at least 4 sources) should be cited. This includes opinions, judgments, little-known facts, and direct quotes. In-text citations (APA) or footnotes and endnotes (CMS) are used to give credit to sources of any material or scholarship borrowed, summarized, or paraphrased. They are intended to refer readers to the exact pages of the works listed in the Reference or Bibliography section.
- Columbia College Writing Center opens in a new window
- The OWL at Purdue provides excellent formatting and style guides for APA opens in a new window and Chicago Manual of Style opens in a new window.
- Any paper that is plagiarized will receive a “0.” Please review the Columbia College policy on plagiarism included in the syllabus.
Make sure you proofread your papers for issues with grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other errors. If you reference a source other than the text (not required), 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. Submitting the work of another is also considered plagiarism. Papers are checked for previous submission to the College and for any uncited content. Repeated incidents of plagiarism are reported to the Academic Affairs Office and the student receives an “F “grade in the course.