of writing within the field of art history. Scholarly writing, undergraduate research
papers, and specialty journals utilized visual analysis to give a condensed, yet detailed,
visual description. The usefulness of mastering the visual analysis goes beyond the
classroom as it allows you to read a given art object. Most importantly, a visual
analysis observes, places emphasis on, and explains particular elements of an art object.
At its core, a visual analysis serves to supply a works formal elements- material qualities
such as medium, color, line, size, and composition. Based on your assignment in other
courses, a visual analysis may include interpretations or a historical reading (however,
your visual analysis will only use the visual artifact as evidence). Regardless of a given
assignment, a reader should be acquainted with the art object, author, and date of
production by the time your analysis begins (if not before).
visual analysis of the selected work. By recognizing and articulating your respective
artists choices, guide your audience and help them correctly read the visual artifact.
Format: 1-2 paragraphs (250 words minimum; 350 words maximum) Proper MLA
formatting and a works cited page. 1-inch margins. 12 pt. Times New Roman font.
Remember: While you are encouraged to read about the background of the work, please
use only visual evidence from your respective work to perform your analysis. You ARE
NOT providing historical background about the work in your visual analysis.
When writing a visual analysis, make sure to undertake these four main steps:
immediately apparent and take your time. The more formal elements and artistic
considerations you make note of in the pre-writing phase will aid you when it
comes time to make your claim.
2) Make a claim: Make a working thesis to guide your visual analysis. Emphasize
and make note of the particular formal elements that are vital to making your
3) Support your claim with visual details: A true visual analysis goes beyond
description. Rather, it picks targeted elements relevant and vital in the creation of
4) Organize your observances in a logical order: While an infinite number of
approaches are possible, make sure to order your analysis in a manner conducive
to your claim. Do not provide a rainstorm of unconnected, superfluous
information. You may begin with a detail and pan out; provide a basic
description of the composition and zoom into close detail; move left to right;
begin with a certain focal point or the central element of the composition.
Choose one visual artifact from the following list. Click each citation to explore the
painting in detail and to learn basic background information about its subject before
writing your analysis.
However, remember: While you are encouraged to read about the background of the
work, please use only visual evidence from your respective work to perform your
analysis. You ARE NOT providing historical background about the work in your visual
Museum of Art, New York.
in the Arts, Washington D.C.
of Art, 1931.
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