Visit a museum or gallery listed below and write an in-depth visual analysis of a single work of art on display. The work of art can be any media: painting, drawing, photograph, installation, sculpture, fibers, fashion, video installation, etc. The essay is intended to be a visual and conceptual analysis based on your own observations, utilizing vocabulary words learned in class. Historical research is not part of this assignment but you may glean information presented on the gallery label if it contributes to your appreciation of the work of art. Be sure to credit the source for your information, such as the label or information given by a docent. You may not, however, regurgitate the information on the label, as the essay is to consist of your own, personal analysis. This essay is not a formal research paper, but rather an indication that the material presented in class has enabled you to effectively critique a work of art based on the principles of design, the background of art history, and your own opinion of what constitutes a successful (or unsuccessful) work of art. First person narrative is acceptable. Please approach this assignment seriously and present a well-written analysis with correct spelling and grammar. If you wish to have your essay proofread by the professor, e-mail it for review (at least three days in advance, please).If you would like to visit a museum or gallery other than one listed below, it must be approved by the professor beforehand. Also, you must personally visit the museum during the duration of the semester. You may not write about a work of art you saw in the past, viewed online, or saw in a private collection. If you write about a work of art from an unapproved museum or gallery, write about a work of art which is not on view, or otherwise falsify information, you will receive a 10 point penalty (out of 100).Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences (The Telfair Museum), 121 Barnard St, Savannah, GA 31401
- This museum is the oldest art museum in the American South and is located in the mansion of the Telfair Family, built in 1820. The art in this museum is what most people think of when they think of “art”: portraits, landscapes, history, and mythological sculptures.
Jepson Center for the Arts, 207 W York St, Savannah, GA 31401
- This is the modern art extension of the Telfair Museums, and is located on the same square as the Telfair Academy. The art in this facility is more recent than its original museum, having been created in the mid-20th century onwards.
Notes about the Telfair/ Jepson:
- Be sure to bring your student ID to get a discounted rate of $15
- Since the Telfair and Jepson are owned by the same society, your ticket will get you into both facilities as well as a third facility, the Owens-Thomas House. While the Owens-Thomas House is impressive and I recommend your touring it (you might as well, it’s included in the price of museum admission), it is not an approved museum for your Visual Analysis Essay, simply because it’s not a museum but rather an historic home.
- You can pay $15 for a single pass into all three venues or pay $25 for a membership (student rates). The membership includes free access to all three facilities for one year, a discount in the gift shops and a free pass for a friend. The free pass arrives a few weeks later in the mail, so if you have a buddy taking this course with you, consider buying the museum membership early so that you can share the pass with a friend before the paper is due.
SCAD Museum of Art, 601 Turner Blvd, Savannah, GA 31401
- Student admission: $5 (bring your ID
- This museum exhibits contemporary art and is the newest museum in Savannah. Contemporary art can be divisive. The art in this facility is unusual and consists of many different media and display methods. Some people are impressed by it, some are turned off by it. Ye be warned!
- Remember that the subject for your paper can be any medium. The art on display at the SCAD Museum includes sculptures, paintings, installations, video art, interactive art, and fashion.
Savannah African Art Museum: 201 E. 37th St.
- Free Admission
- Open Thursday – Saturday, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
- This is a brand new museum that consists of a truly impressive collection of West and Central African art, most of which are from the private collection of Dr. Don Kole. There are over 1000 objects in his collection, consisting of ceremonial masks, metal sculptures, carved figures, ceremonial regalia, pottery, tools, and weapons. I highly recommend viewing this collection!
The Beach Institute, 502 E. Harris St.
- Student Admission $2
- Open Tues – Sat. 12:00-5:00
- Mission Statement: “The Beach Institute is Savannah’s first school built after Emancipation specifically for African Americans. As a cultural center, the Beach Institute collects, interprets, preserves and presents African American history and culture through exhibits and artistic and educational programs.”
Armstrong Art Gallery, Fine Arts Hall, Room 125, 11935 Abercorn St.
- This gallery is free to tour (make sure you park in a Visitor space) and displays art created by Armstrong students, faculty, and alumni. Sometimes a high school exhibit or a traveling exhibit sets up in there too.
- The gallery is only open Monday-Friday, and often the last show of the season is taken down before the final paper is due. If you want to visit this gallery, don’t procrastinate!
Roots Up Gallery, 6 E. Liberty St.
- “Southern folk art, local and regional artists, handmade jewelry and pottery, along with unique finds from creative minds.”
- I have to admit, this is hands-down my favorite art gallery in Savannah. I adore outsider art (see chapter 1) and this gallery is full of art by untraditional creators: homeless persons, rural artists, artists with no training, and “visionary” art (i.e. art by the mentally handicapped)
SCAD Galleries (free admission)
- Pinnacle Gallery, 320 E. Liberty Street
- Shop SCAD, 340 Bull Street
- Gutstein Gallery, 201 E. Broughton Street
- Pei Ling Chan Gallery, 322 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Deep South Photopoint Gallery, 30 Cherokee Street, Richmond Hill, GA
Grading Criteria / Length Requirement
Length and format for Visual Analysis Essay:The Visual Analysis Essay must 800 words long (minimum), with text aligned to the left (not center, not justify), in 12-point, double-spaced, Times New Roman font, with one-inch margins on all sides.Grading form for Visual Analysis Essay:Adequate length, correct format, title page: 10 pointsSpelling, grammar and clarity: 10 points: Essay is well-written, organized and coherentContent: 30 points:Description: Thorough and evocative description of the work of artAnalysis: Sophisticated observation of the compositionInterpretation: Articulate and insightful interpretations based on observationsJudgment: Expresses personal opinion in an educated mannerProper use of vocabulary: Uses 2-4 vocabulary words correctly and in contextContent of Visual Analysis Essay:Your visual analysis essay is to follow four general steps or activities: description, analysis, interpretation, and judgment. For more detailed information on these four steps, consult “Feldman’s The Four Steps of Art Criticism” handout available below.IntroductionBefore you begin your analysis you need to introduce your work of art. Tell the reader which museum you went to and which work of art you are writing about. Be sure to provide the title of the work of art and the artist’s name.DescriptionBefore you analyze a work of art you need to describe it. Identify the subject or theme (ex: still life, portrait, history painting, landscape, etc.) and thoroughly describe the work of art.Imagine that the reader has never seen the work of art before; your description should be detailed and evocative enough for the reader to imagine the work of art in his/her head. A photograph is not a substitute for a thorough and accurate description. Use vocabulary words where applicable.AnalysisAnalyzing a composition strikes some students as challenging, but it simply involves separating the whole artwork into its parts. Consider the color scheme. Note how the artist has arranged the visual elements. What is the focal point of the piece? How is that element deemed the focal point? Consider colors, patterns, lines, contrasts, etc. How does the artist lead your eye across the work of art? Which areas are given special emphasis? Have any elements been exaggerated or abstracted? How does the composition complement the content of the work of art and the artist’s intent? Use vocabulary words where applicable.Consult chapters 3 and 4 for guidance on this step.InterpretationThis should be the longest part of your essay. Try to understand the meaning of the work of art based on your observations. What do you think the artist was trying to say? What was the artist’s objective? Does the work convey any sort of mood or idea? Do you think there is an underlying message or moral to the work of art? Is there a certain objective or agenda promoted in the artwork?Judgment/ ConclusionThis element of your essay is similar to the interpretation. You are telling me your reaction to the piece. Why did you choose this work of art, out of all the works in the museum? Discuss the strengths and merit of the work of art. Your judgment will be based on education as well as personal preference.VocabularyYou are asked to use at least 2 vocabulary terms in your final essay, correctly and in context. Your terms can be used anywhere in the essay.In addition to considering terms related to the technique and composition you can also draw a comparison between the work of art in your essay and a work or style studied in class. For instance, you can write about how “This work of art reminds me of the Impressionist style because ______.” Or, “This painting is similar to [work of art] because _______.”
Title Page example
Title page format for Visual Analysis Essay:In 12-point, double-spaced, Times New Roman font, aligned to the center, please include the following information:[Your Name] / CRN (5-digit class number) / Visual Analysis Essay / [Artist’s name. Title of Work (in italics). Date. Medium. Dimensions. Name of museum or venue. Name of exhibition] / Image of artwork (see below)VA Title page example:Eleanor GrixCRN 12345Visual Analysis EssayGari Melchers. The Unpretentious Garden. 1903-09. Oil on canvas. 33 5/8” x 40 1/2”Jepson Center for the Arts. “One Hundred Years of Harmony: Paintings by Gari Melchers”????*If certain information is not provided or applicable (e.g. dimensions, date, name of exhibition), approximate or omit that information. If no title is given, suggest your own title and explain your choice.Images:Please include an image of the work you have analyzed on the title page of your essay (lo-res, black and white, and/or camera phone images are acceptable). Since some museums do not allow photography it is not mandatory to include an image with your essay.
Citations and references
This essay is not a research paper but rather a visual analysis. Citations and references are not required for this essay. You can write 800 words on a work of art without knowing anything about the artist or their intentions. Students have written about works of street art or student art and come up with very insightful interpretations!However, many times it is helpful to understand the context of a work of art. During your museum visit I expect you to read the label and listen to museum docents. This information is usually helpful and is an asset when writing your interpretation, but I still want to know what you, the student, think about the work of art.If you mention outside information you may do so casually. “I spoke to the docent and she told me…” or “A handout in the gallery explained that the series was inspired by…” or “The label next to the painting read that the painting depicts the battle of…”If you do conduct more extensive research I would like you to cite your information using MLA or Turabian formatting methods. “The title of the work of art is The Black Prince at Crecy. I researched the battle and learned that… [source].” Tie that information back into your essay. Always remember that this essay is not a research paper. Your essay should consist of four elements: description, analysis, interpretation, and judgment. Writing a research paper, cited or otherwise, will not result in a good score. If you give me the entire biography of an artist but do not describe the work of art nor provide your own interpretation, you will not pass this assignment.And for heaven’s sake, do not use Wikipedia as a source. (I hope I don’t have to tell you