Thomas Hart Benton, assignment help –

Formal description paper (2 pages): February 23rd As we saw in Jennifer Roberts’ article, a good, careful formal description of a work of art is the first step in interpreting a painting or artwork. Art historians then build on these kinds of description by considering the life of the artist and the historical and cultural context of its creation, exhibition, or reception. The history is always grounded in the visual characteristics of the work of art, specifically how it looks and how it is organized. In her article, Roberts identified details like the squirrel’s body, the shape of the boy’s ear, the glass of water, and the reflections on the tabletop. She then directly connected these formal details to Copley’s biography and historical tensions surrounding trans-Atlantic transportation and the illusionism of painting itself. For this assignment, you will select one American artwork at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and attempt your own formal argument, connecting your description and history. A tip: a painting is likely the easiest object to choose. It is very important to spend a long time carefully looking at your work of art and taking notes of the things that you observe about it. In your paper you must have an introduction, where you introduce your artwork (title, artist, date, medium, size, etc.) and state your thesis: the connection between your description and history. Your body paragraph(s) should provide a clear and concise description of the artwork. Discuss the visual characteristics of your image. Imagine that I cannot see the work and describe it so that I can picture it. Explain the subject and medium, its size and arrangement. How does your eye move through the composition? Can you see brushstrokes or evidence of the hand of the artist? How big is the artwork? Pay attention to line, color, and shape, along with other elements that YOU think are important. Does the artist repeat shapes or colors? Why might they do that? In the second portion of your paper, you will propose a historical reading for the artwork based on the visual elements that you noticed. You should connect your artwork to a period trend or historical issue, suggesting why the artist may have made the choices that they did. You should conduct research using only the object label, Wikipedia, and our textbook. Please do not consult any other sources. You must cite every source used with parentheticals or footnotes. For example, does your artist present a sitter in a particular way that relates to that subject’s role in society? What does the museum label tell you about that person? If it’s a landscape, what does your textbook tell us about the period when it was painted or its geographic location? In essence, give me a “why” that provides context for the formal elements you identify as important. Do not be concerned with fully supporting your argument; this paper is only two pages. Instead, offer one possible avenue for interpretation. Your conclusion should combine your observations and your historical suggestion together and restate your thesis. Your paper must be 2 double-spaced pages typed in Times New Roman, 12-point type. Except when making your thesis claim, please do not use first person in this paper. Instead, write for a formal audience. Tone is important and gives you authority. When you forward your thesis with “I” it gains weight. Use clear language for your thesis, e.g.: “I suggest that Sargent shows the sitter in a gown, because she was historically important.” You should include a paper title, your name, and page numbers. Your paper will be graded for content as well as for the manner in which you present your ideas and observations. Leave yourself time to edit the paper.

CHECKLIST FOR YOUR PAPER: ___ Do I introduce the artwork? (title, artist, date, medium, size, etc.) ___ Do I give a clear description of the work? (hint: ask someone else to read it who doesn’t know the painting – see if they can imagine it) ___ Do I connect the artwork to a period trend or historical issue? ___ Do I have my thesis statement in both the introduction and conclusion? ___ Do I cite all the sources I used or consulted? ___ Is my paper at least 2 pages, and includes page numbers, my name, and a unique title? 

About the painting—

Thomas Hart Benton, Ozark Autumn

The Museum has recently acquired a 1949 painting by Regionalist artist Thomas Hart Benton, on view now, with a selection of prints by the artist from the permanent collection—through February 21, 2016.

Writing Hub