Swamped with your writing assignments? Take the weight off your shoulder!
or this paper you will submit a double-‐spaced,12 point-font in Times New Roman typeface. (Word count must be at least 720 words). A “formal analysis” is descriiption of the artwork’s composition, structure, color (if it’s a painting), texture and other characteristics that define how an artwork appears. It should also include the expressive qualities of the work and a descriiption of the artwork’s style. You want to think about how the formal elements of the artwork help to convey the specific style the work is associated with.
Leonardo da Vinci, “Virgin of the Rocks”.
Answer the following questions (these are some suggestions, you don’t have to do all of them): these are called the identifying questions.
Who is the artist?
What is the title of the work? Date? Dimensions? Location? Medium? Support?
What is the subject matter of the work?
Then consider answering some of the questions below:
Consider the work’s title . Does the title help you interpret what you see?
Can you imagine different treatments of the same subject matter that would change the way you read the work?
In case of a sculpture, or installation: If the human figure is its subject matter, how is the figure treated?
If the work is nonrepresentational, what feelings does it evoke?
Consider the formal elements of the work and how they relate to its subject matter.
How is line employed in the work? Does it seem to regulate or order the composition?
Does it seem to fragment the work?
Is it consistent with traditional laws of perspective or does it violate them?
In case of sculpture or installation: what is the relation of the work to the space it occupies? What is its relation to the viewer? Does the work move, or require you to move?
What is the relation of shape to space in the work?
How do light and dark function in the work? Is there a great deal of tonal contrast?
What other elements seem important? is you attention drawn to the work’s texture? Does time seem an important factor in your experience of the work?
What principles of design are used to organize composition?
Is there significant use of visual rhythm and repetition of elements?
Is the composition balanced? Symmetrically, Asymmetrically?
Do the work’s various elements seem proportional, and how does the question of scale affect your perception? Does the composition seem unified or not?
Has the artist’s choice of medium played a role in the presentation of the various elements and their organization or design?
Are effects achieved that are realizable only in this particular medium?
If more than one medium is involved, what is their relation?
What is the meaning of the work? What is its content, as opposed to its subject matter?
What are the artist’s intentions? How do these intentions manifest themselves in the composition? Are there other feelings or attitudes that the composition seems to evoke, and what specific elements or design choices account for those feelings?
Are there symbolic meanings in the work?
Does the work seem to have personal meaning to the artist– that is, is it biographical?
Is the work a political or social commentary?
Is there some larger philosophical, historical. or social context that informs the work?
Finally, what does the work mean to you?