Three very different questions


For this assignment for a term paper, you will choose a topic (see below) and work on that topic for the rest of the semester. Three very different questions – some with several options from which to

For this assignment for a term paper, you will choose a topic (see below) and work on that topic for the rest of the semester. Three very different questions – some with several options from which to choose – are presented for your choice. You may choose any one of the questions to work on.

Your treatment of each artwork on which you focus will require a formal analysis to some extent based on the elements of art and/or principles of design. The underlying idea is to allow you to apply all that you have learned in this semester. At the same time, you will need to concentrate on the context of the works themselves; that is:

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  • Why this work
  • At this time?
  • In this form?
  • In this place?
  • In what way does it influence later works?

Wikipedia may not be used for your research. Excellent resources have been provided at the end of these guidelines. They will provide a solid, accurate discussion of works of art and periods along with the inclusion of additional, highly reliable resources.

You are required to include photographs in your final paper, embedded preferably. You may use as many illustrations as you choose, including specific details of a work. These photos should support your various points whether about one work or several.

The final essay itself must be written in full sentences (no “text-eze”!) and formatted with a justified left margin. Do not center your text: this is not a literature class, and this is not poetry.

If you have not done so already, install Grammarly on your computer. You will find the link provided at the base of our home page for this course. Points will be taken off for spelling and grammar.

HINT: the key to your work is based on the four questions above. What accounts for the different styles of individual artists? Why do they pursue very different subjects – formal, expressionistic – from other artists active at the same time? Why does the art of the late 19th and 20th century stop looking like much earlier art of the Renaissance and Baroque? What accounts for the sometimes radical differences in subject matter and style?

This paper is not about information but, rather, it is about thought.

Question #1: The Reality of Photography:

“Who Said Painting Is Dead?” Discuss the invention of photography and its impact on art.

CONSIDER: How much of what we see in a photograph is real? Can you think of “truthful” qualities of photography? Think if you have ever had a “bad picture” taken of yourself. Do you truly look like the photo, or has the camera distorted your appearance in some way? Do you pose for pictures or act naturally? Take into account the capability of the photographer to manipulate an image by compositional arrangement, darkroom techniques, or more recently with computer programs (e.g., Photoshop) or smartphone applications such as Instagram.

AND THEN: Imagine a world without photography, taking into account all the media in which photography is experienced—newspapers, magazines, books, film, television. What importance do photography and video imaging have on how we think of and perceive art today? Does this mean “Painting Is Dead?”

FINALLY: How has computer technology affected the art we see? Provide examples of how art functions in the age of digital information. Point out where you see art on the Web. In addition, identify visual images from popular culture that are digitally created or enhanced, for example, music videos, CD covers, T-shirt designs, and so on.

Question #2: Creating Abstract Art

Option #1: A Project: Using the example of Theo van Doesburg, Abstraction of a Cow (page 11), Vasily Kandinsky, and Piet Mondrian, discuss the progression of a visual image from representational to nonrepresentational and document the process of abstraction. With a maximum of five steps, first, draw the image realistically; in the second drawing, eliminate details and describe the object using only shapes; third, separate the shapes with space so they appear to float; fourth, use nonrepresentational colors to color in the floating shapes; and finally, create a one-line contour outline drawing of the space between the shapes.

Option #2: Creating Illusions

Discuss the methods artists use to create the illusion of depth on a flat surface. Think about the basic overlapping of forms to mathematical systems of perspective. Emphasize the significance of using linear perspective during the Renaissance to create the effect of a “window on the world.” Contrast this system of creating the illusion of the three-dimensional world on a flat surface with that of atmospheric perspective which allows the eye to “wander” through the landscape. In this context, discuss artists such as Raphael, The School of Athens, Leonardo DaVinci, Madonna of the Rocks (Louvre version), and the great illusionistic ceilings of the Baroque period such as Pietro da Cortona’s The Glorification of the Barberini, Barberini Palace, Rome and Gaulli’s illusionistic ceiling in Il Gesu in Rome.

Finally, Include in your treatment of illusionism a discussion of the painterly objectives of artists such as the Impressionists. Did they approve of and adopt the Renaissance tradition of illusionism? If not, did they substitute illusionism with something else? Also include a comparison of the work of Picasso and the Cubists to the Renaissance with reference to painted perspective and space, along with the emergence of pure abstraction in art (as, for example, in the work of Kandinsky, Mondrian, Pollock, and Rothko).

Question #3: Architecture: Art Or Science?

Amazing Architecture: identify the most amazing building you have ever entered. In your essay, elaborate upon what makes the building amazing, including the architect’s use of space, plan, site (i.e., location), materials used, purpose (residence or commercial). Do not forget to include illustrations that support your consideration of your amazing building.

In the context of amazing architecture, your essay should also treat the question: How is architecture both a science and art? Cite examples of architectural innovations from the textbook and be sure to include illustrations of the buildings you discuss to support your argument.

RESOURCES: You will need additional information about these two works in order to analyze form and discuss historical context. There are any number of excellent art history resources. Among these, four are outstanding for the purpose of this Treasure Hunt. They are as follows:

  • The Khan Academy (
  • Smarthistory: Art History on Khan Academy ( takes you directly to the History of Art section of The Khan Academy))
  • The Metropolitan Museum, Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: essays, works of art, chronologies (Search, Works of Art, Chronology, Essays:
  • Christopher L.C.E Witcombe, Art History Resources on the Web (