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A comparison and analysis of two works of art in the Museum of Modern Art.

The purpose of this paper is to discuss in your own words the similarities and differences between two works regarding style, content, artistic intention andhistorical context. Your conclusions will be based on your own observations together with information that you have read about the artists and come to understand about their work.

In a comparison, consider in addition to stylistic elements, the works and the art historical movements or moments they represent in relation to each other, thinking about ways in which they are different or alike. The following points should be covered in your paper.

Begin your investigation with a careful viewing. Make notes of visual characteristics you see when you view the actual object. You may photograph any of these without a flash.

Information to include in your paper that you learn in the museum:
A. IMPORTANT: Explain how the images are presented in the gallery. Where are they placed (easy to see, crowded, too high, too low, next to related artworks? are they well lit?, is it easy to circulate in the gallery, any place to rest, etc.?

B. Formal analysis:

Note the size, composition, balance, scale brushwork, use of line color, spatialdepth or surface treatment/texture. Where appropriate, discuss the variousmaterials used.

C. How do these technical and stylistic choices help create the overall expressive effect of the painting or sculpture. For instance is a viewer immediately aware of individual formal elements, is a viewer drawn into a narrative immediately? What impact, if any, do technique and stylistic choices have on the content? What do you think the artists were trying to communicate to the viewer? This can be general or specific.

Research component:
Discuss the content and meaning, and how it is related to (conveyed by) the formal elements of the work. This is about getting to know the artist?s intentions where possible. What ideas motivated and preoccupied the artists? Were they reacting against (or, alternatively, influenced by) earlier artistic movements or contemporary events? You should consider the following questions: Did the artists have a politicalor social goal in mind? Were they interested in any of these things: psychology, philosophy, current events, music, politics, religion, or science? Were new materials or figural distortions a particular concern? Were the works part of a series or related to other paintings/sculptures by the artist?

Did the works represent a change in the artists? styles? How do the paintings typifythe movements, if any, with which they are associated? How were the works interpreted and received by critics and the public? Have these opinions changed over time? This part of your paper must demonstrate an understanding of published information which you have used for your research.

Whenever possible, include statements by the artists themselves regarding their intentions and priorities, as well as responses by critics and historians. Be sure to footnote all direct quotes and original ideas taken from other authors. Above all, your paper must be written in your own words. Remember, I am interested in how you reason about the art and how you evaluate what you read. For further questions, consult Sylvan Barnet, A Short Guide to Writing About Art, N.Y.: Longman, 2009.


Relevant books are on reserve in the Pratt Library for you to use (in addition to your textbooks) while preparing your paper. Consult at least two books for each artist (they don?t have to be on reserve, but they should be current). These books contain information specifically related to the painting or sculpture about which you are writing and-or general information on the artist. Think about using general books on art formats and movements such as modern sculpture, Pop Art, etc. List the resources you use in your bibliography.

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