Sculpture, painting and building analysis

ART ANALYSIS ESSAY– ____________________________
Work sheet

This assignment asks you to do basically what archaeologists or art historians do when they classify a work in order to determine where it needs to be placed in the gallery of a museum. In this essay you are explaining what makes this a Classical Greek sculpture.

  1. Choose a ___ sculpture, painting, building, that you like.
  2. It is your task to write an essay that explains how this sculpture demonstrates the values which would classify it as a work from the _____________era.
  3. Please attach a photocopy of the work to your analysis or copy an image into your paper. Whether your choice is from our textbook or another source, you should look at the sculpture from several angles. Using a marker or pen, draw the lines and shapes on the image. Doing so will help you to see the elements of art more easily.
  4. Please submit this worksheet with your essay.

Appropriate images may be found in several locations. An initial search might begin with the PowerPoint notes from your HUM class (if available) on your subject (under D2L Contents). You could also look on ARTstor (go to then to Library Access; then to Data Bases; then Humanities; and finally you hit ArtStor), in (the Pearson e-Text that accompanies your textbook), and other related web-links.

Introduce quoted or paraphrased information with signal phrase(s) and include a parenthetical citation with page or paragraph number. At the end of your analysis include a Works Cited listing. [See the Essay Formatting Sheet under Introductory Materials for Studying the Humanities on D2L, ask me if you have questions, or take your paper to the Writing Center for assistance with this.] Web sites whose URL’s end in org. or edu. are appropriate places to go as are major museum websites. Wikipedia, and Encarta are not academic sources.

After considering each of the numbered items below it will be clear how this work effectively demonstrates the Classical Greek values. I would suggest you answer each question on this work sheet and then arrange the most relevant answers in your essay.

  1. Title (Italicize titles of works of art) ________________
  2. Who was the sculptor, painter, architect? ________________
  3. What is the subject matter? Explain who or what is depicted
    as fully as possible. You should do some information-gathering or
    research in order to answer this question since knowing who or
    what is depicted in the sculpture will help you connect the basic
    elements and cultural values to the work’s expressive purpose. ________________
    ?If the work is a portrait, does the work present a strong sense
    of an individual or does it represent a type of person? ________________
    ?If the sculpture represents a deity, what ideas of divinity are
    expressed? ________________
    ?Does the peice have a symbolic meaning? ________________
    ?Did it belong to a larger set or series? ________________
    ?How does its purpose help us understand its culture at this time? ________________
  4. Creation does not generally occur in a void. Which of the
    following historical context factors relates to the purpose of this
    work: economic, social, political, religious, intellectual or
    scientific concerns. ________________
  5. What is the historical precedent to this work? ________________
    ?How was the work possibly influenced by, or inspired by, an
    earlier work? ________________
  6. In what condition has the work survived? ________________
    ?Is this a copy of an earlier original? ________________
    ?Where would the work originally have been seen? ________________
    ?Is this geographical location significant to the work? ________________
    ?What is the present location of this work? ________________

?Who might the patrons have been? ________________

The Elements of Art are the visual indicators of the associated values of the culture. Be attentive to the elements, as discussed on D2L Using the Paradigm and the Basic Elements of Art as you consider how this work demonstrates the values of the era in which it was created.

  1. Describe the most significant lines of the pose. ________________
    ?Are the lines vertical, horizontal or diagonal? ________________
    ?Are they curved or straight? ________________
    ?Is contrapposto evident? ________________
    ?How do the lines reinforce the subject matter? ________________
    ?What associated cultural value is suggested by the artist’s
    choice of these shapes? ________________
  2. Identify both the geometric (idealistic) and the human (organic)
    shapes that form the sculpture, and explain where you see them. ________________
    ?Is the overall effect geometric or naturalistic? ________________
    ?In what ways are these shapes significant? ________________
    ?What associated cultural value is suggested by the artist’s
    choice of these lines? ________________
  3. What medium is used? ________________
    ?Why was this particular medium used at this time in this
    location? ________________
    ?Would the sculpture have the same effect if it were in a
    different medium? ________________
    ?How does the medium help you to identify the work? ________________
  4. All sculpture, painting and buildings has a physical and/or implied texture! Describe the texture
    and color of the peice. ________________
    ?Where is the texture an important feature? ________________
    ?How do the texture and color indicate the culture that
    produced it? ________________
    ?If drapery is included, what does it contribute to the
    expressive purpose? ________________
  5. Describe the space. ________________
    ?Is it open or closed? How do you know? What three criteria
    of open/closed works does this possess? 1)______________
    ?How does the element of space reinforce the associated values
    expressed by this work? ________________

?Does the space appear to be controlled by a mathematical
canon of proportions? ________________

  1. What is the size of the original? ________________
    ?How does the size reinforce the subject matter or ideas
    communicated by the sculpture? ________________
    ?Are certain bodily features or forms distorted? If so, why? ________________
  2. Is an illuminating source important to the work? ________________
    ?How does the lighting influence your response to the
    work? ________________
  3. How does the artist’s philosophy or background affect
    this work? (Even if the name of the artist is not known,
    what might you surmise about his or her status,
    background, education and attitude toward the subject?) ________________
    ?How do you know he or she shares, or does not share,
    the values of his culture? ________________
  4. What distinguishes this from another cultures, making this
    uniquely fitted to the era of its creation (rather than, say, Mesopotamian,
    Egyptian, Archaic Greek or Hellenistic Greek)? ________________

Now you may outline and write your essay! You will not need to discuss each and every point on this worksheet, but you must discuss the key distinguishing features which make this a work from Classical Greece.
Your essay should include the essential components of an essay, including an introduction which culminates in your thesis. The thesis will assert what makes this a Classical Greek sculpture, and what the sculpture says about Greek culture at this time.
Informative body paragraphs will demonstrate the validity of your thesis statement.
The conclusion should sum up how this sculpture effectively utilizes the pictorial conventions of its time and place and exhibits the typical associated values of the Classical Greek era.

Sample Solution