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4 pages/≈1100 words
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Level:
MLA
Subject:
History
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English (U.S.)
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Art History 2051 American Art. The Child’s Bath by Mary Cassat (Other (Not Listed) Sample)

Instructions:

"Choose from among the 35 comparison options with which I have provided you. For this assignment you must
examine both of the objects for the comparison you select in person. "

 

Art History 2051  American Art 
 30 January 2020 Guidelines for 5-Page Comparison Paper  
 Choose from among the 35 comparison options with which I have provided you. For this assignment you must examine both of the objects for the comparison you select in person.  
 The paper should consist of five pages of vivid, intensive description and comparison. It should be in Times 12 font, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins and the pages numbered. The final paragraph should contain speculations about possible research avenues that have been suggested by your formal analysis. What kinds of larger questions have been raised in the process of analysis? How might you answer them through research? These questions will serve as a framework for expanding this comparison essay into an 8-page research paper. 
 This is not a formal scholarly paper. There should be neither footnotes nor a bibliography. Your claims should be founded on the information you collect by looking carefully at the artworks. You may structure the presentation in any way you like, but avoid wasting words on introductions, conclusions, and restatements of the assignment. You will be evaluated on the precision and vigor of the language you use to describe the work.  
 Close analysis, and a thoughtful response to what you observe, is a touchstone of art historical inquiry. It is built upon precise and imaginative translation of experiential information into descriptive language. This is an active process that forges the interface between the historical object and your own store of knowledge and experience.   
 Writing is not a passive reflection of what you see, but a tool for seeing in the first place. That is, writing is a generative process. Therefore you should plan to write the bulk of your first draft while looking at the works in person. Plan to spend at least three hours with them. Avoid the passive voice unless you are attempting to express some passive quality of a work itself. Active verbs help you to establish the dynamics of the interrelation among the different parts of a work. Also: watch your ‘to be’ verbs: these tend to signal missed opportunities for precision. Restructure the description so that you are forced to think of a more vivid and specific evocation of an object. In the process you will be defining your own response to it more clearly and bringing to mind larger questions, themes, and implications.  
 You must attach to your paper high quality reproductions of the works you are comparing. A good reproduction will ideally be in color and sharply focused, displaying a high level of detail (i.e. it will not be fuzzy or pixelated). Locating and obtaining good illustrations is an important part of art historical labor.  
 The paper is due Thursday February 27th by 5pm. Please email Jason a copy of your paper as a Microsoft Word attachment. Late papers will be penalized one grade point for each elapsed day (e.g., an A paper turned in a day late will receive an A-). A checklist of the description process: 1. Measurement and proportion: What are the overall dimensions of the object (in both two and three dimensions)? Provide precise measurements if possible. What proportional relationships define the object, both in its overall form and among major internal elements? 2. Materials used: Identify, if possible, all materials used to create the object. If you cannot identify them describe them as fully as you can. Note their patterns of distribution.  3. Fabrication: How have the various materials been assembled? Can you determine the processes used to fabricate the object? (For a painting, this would include questions of paint handling, layering, etc.) 
2 4. Line: Identify and describe all linear elements, actual or implied, in the object. Are lines emphasized or deemphasized? What line weights are used? Is there an emphasis on smooth or rough lines, short or long lines, nervous or confident lines, choppy or sinuous lines, etc.? What are the prominent horizontal lines? Vertical lines? Diagonals? Are there lines (actual or implied) that connect different parts of the object or the different things it represents? 5. Geometries and formal echoes: Look for an emphasis or de-emphasis on basic geometrical units like circles, triangles, squares, cubes, cones, cylinders, etc. Look for patterns: repeating shapes, nesting shapes, symmetrical arrangements, etc. Identify relationships of scale and number among similar forms.  6. Organization of forms in 3D space: For more three-dimensional objects: how are forms arranged in actual space? For a representation: how is 3D space implied, if at all? What about negative space?  7. Color: Identify (with as much precision as you are able) the different colors used. Then examine saturation and brightness. Examine patterning, distribution, and echoes much as you did with geometrical elements in step 5. 8. Light: Where is the lightest light? The darkest dark? For representations: where is the implied light source, and how can you tell? Talk about range, contrast, sharpness, or diffuseness.  9. Representational and textual content: Produce an inventory of everything represented “in” the image or object. Note and transcribe any text.  10. Sensory impressions: What are your own sensory responses to the object? Consider all of your senses: hearing, smell, taste, touch, vision. If you are examining a representational image, note your responses to the image as object (i.e. a canvas with oil paint on it) and also project yourself into the depicted space and consider the sensory field implied by it.  11. Mobility and manipulability: How easy is it to move or manipulate your object For representations: how easy would it be to move through the space? To move or handle the objects in it? What leads you to these conclusions? 12. Function: Based on your observations so far, speculate as to the intended function and/or meaning of the object.  13. User profile or implied viewer: Based on your observations so far, speculate as to the status and characteristics of the implied user or viewer. How does the object create its viewer or user? Is the viewer a man or a woman? Rich or poor? Of a certain racial or ethnic background? An individual or a group? Where is the viewer? What kind of body do/does they/she/he have? 14. Temporal extension: Think about the object’s relationship to time. Does it imply or require a narrative or an action? Does it assume that something has already happened? Or that something will happen? Or does it attempt to evoke timelessness? If so, how well does it succeed, and why? Once you have drafted descriptions of the two artworks individually, you will have plentiful raw prose to develop your comparison. What can you see by comparing the works that you would not be able to see otherwise? That is, how is your understanding of the individual works enhanced through comparison? Grading Rubric 5 pts  = the paper is 5 pages long in Times 12 double-spaced, give or take a sentence or two  3 5 pts  = inclusion of decent illustrations (-2 points if the images are inadequate) 10 pts = inclusion of final paragraph with conjectures for further work/research 15 pts  = use of correct grammar and spelling, and absence of typos 5 pts  = sound overall structure (i.e. well-divided paragraphs, sense of logical progression) 15 pts  = persistent use of vivid, descriptive language 10 pts  = deployment of precise, active verbs 5 pts = varied and carefully developed sentence structure 20 pts  = attention to the 14 formal analysis criteria listed above 10 pts  = presence of conclusions drawn from sustained looking (i.e. no footnotes or arguments rooted in extraneous cultural historical research; no forced conclusions)    

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Art Examination and Comparison
The Child’s Bath by Mary Cassat
Mary Cassat created the painting, The Child’s Bath, in 1891. The measurement of the picture is 100.3 cm × 66.1 cm (39.5 in × 26 in) and one can locate it at the Art Institute of Chicago, in Chicago. The artist created the artwork using oil on canvas medium to depict two subjects, a mother and a child (Cassatt 1). When one looks at the picture, he or she will deduce that the scene in the setting of the art is unique to them, but may not be peculiar first to glance, observers, because it is an ordinary chore of bathing a child. The painting reminds me of the spiritual image of Madonna and the Young Christ during the Renaissance. The art manifests an extraordinary intimacy in the way the tactile experiences of the figures. The strokes of paint are rough to reveal a layered pattern, creating thick lines that indicate the figures and separate them from the background (Tomita 169). The rough strokes have yielded a clear view of the hand of the artist.

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