Art Humanities: Masterpieces of Wester Art (Spring 2013)
First Writing Assignment: Sculpture and the Classical Tradition

Due Monday, February 25, in hard copy format, at the beginning of class.
You MUST staple your receipt for admission (even if it's free using your
CU ID) to your paper to receive full credit.

10% of final grade.

Choose two sculptures from the Metropolitan Museum that belong to
collections of Western (i.e. Euro-American) art. One of your selections
must come from the Greek and Roman collections and embody the
“Classical” style of the Parthenon (i.e., from the mid-5th century B.C.E.
and onward). The other sculpture must be drawn from any period after
that of classical antiquity (whether Medieval, Renaissance, or even
Modern), but MUST be western. You should include at least two
photographs (from different angles) of each work at the end of your
paper (i.e., after the four pages). Do not include images pulled from
the Web (whether from Google, Flickr, or even the Met website).

The goal of the assignment is to indicate how your second work either
corresponds to, or diverges from, the “classical” model of your first piece.
What is the effect of corresponding to/diverging from that classical model?
What messages might the artist be trying to convey? Try to come up
with an overall argument that is grounded in your observations and
descriptions, rather than research. You should start the paper straightaway
with a THESIS statement that the body of the paper will clarify through
a formal analysis of the works you've chosen. Basically, your thesis will
offer an interpretation of the work that is supported by visual evidence.
This interpretation is not expected to be revolutionary in any sense.
Indeed, it might even seem rather banal or self-evident. The point is
rather to practice the difficult task of translating what you see into what
you say.

Compare and contrast your two sculptures in FOUR typed pages
(double-spaced, 12 pt font, numbered, and stapled). Be sure to provide
specific visual evidence for your statements and assertions. For example,
rather than simply saying “the man's anatomy doesn't look realistic," or "the
woman looks relaxed," you should describe how the sculpture ITSELF
elicits those judgments. Which parts of the anatomy seem strange, and
why? How do they deviate from the standards of naturalism we discussed
in class? Why does the woman look relaxed? Is it because of her posture?
Her expression? What about them? It is important to be specific in the
description of your observations. However, be careful not to let the
description become an end unto itself. It should have a point, which is
to say that it should help to clarify your thesis at every stage of the

Again, this is NOT a research paper. You simply need to carefully
examine the works you have chosen and relate them to one another in
a meaningful way. There is no need to talk about the history of the works
themselves or give me biographies of the artists, etc. The paper
should not simply be an elaboration of the didactic plaques in the
museum. Just LOOK at the works as we have been doing in class.

Good luck, and have fun!

For your reference, follow the link to the Getty's nice introduction to
some of the terms of formal analysis. Some of them will be more
applicable than others for the sculpture assignment. Use this as a
set of flexible guidelines, rather than a checklist.