Writing a formal analysis of a work of art
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Writing a Formal Analysis of a Work of Art. What is a formal analysis?. Usually a formal analysis looks only at the elements of art and principles of design. Sometimes it includes interpretation.

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Writing a Formal Analysis of a Work of Art

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Writing a formal analysis of a work of art

Writing a Formal Analysis of a Work of Art


What is a formal analysis

What is a formal analysis?

Usually a formal analysis looks only at the elements of art and principles of design.

Sometimes it includes interpretation.

For this assignment, focus upon how the artist applies the principles of design to a chosen work of art. The point is to look carefully.


Elements of art

Elements of Art

Color

Value

Line

Shape

Form

Texture

Space


Principles of design

Principles of Design

Balance

Proportion

Rhythm

Emphasis

Unity

Contrast

Variety


Writing a formal analysis of a work of art

The Block, 1971

Romare Bearden

One of six panels,

Each panel 48” x 36”

Cut and pasted printed, colored, and metallic papers, photostats, pencil, ink, marker, gouache, watercolor, pen, and ink on Masonite

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


Writing a formal analysis of a work of art

Begin with a thought-provoking or evocative thesis; something that will hook your reader.

For example:

Bearden’s collage art, such as The Block, 1971, effectively combines elements of cubism to show an African-American urban neighborhood.


Writing a formal analysis of a work of art

Other Points of the Formal Analysis

1. Read the image as you would read text. Begin on one side and work across, relating what you see, or find the most important part of the image and read from that point. Do not skip around.

2. Describe some important details. Talk about the elements of art and the principles of design.

3. Summarize the overall appearance of the piece. Make a statement of its effectiveness.

4. No interpretation.


Format

Format

Paragraph 1

Evocative statement/thesis

Paragraph 2

Five or more pieces of evidence to support statement/thesis

Paragraph 3

Conclusion that is convincing


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