Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in an art history class.
Professor: Last class I passed out your assignment for your first paper and today I want to spend some time going over it.
Most people never take any art history until they get to college, so many of you have probably never written an art history paper before.
I gave you a list of appropriate works of art for you to write about.
So your next step in this process needs to be to go look at the work you've selected as your topic and bring a pencil and a notepad with you.
Because I don't mean you should just drop by at the museum and glance at it, so you can say you've seen it in real life, you need to go and sit in front of the work and really look at it carefully and slowly, and keep careful notes about what you see.
You'll need them for the kind of art history paper you are going to be writing, it's what we call a formal analysis.
A formal analysis of a work of art, any kind of art, is based on its formal qualities, which means qualities related to the form.
Things like color, texture, line, shapes, proportion and composition.
Uh, probably the closest thing to a formal analysis you might have written is for an English class.
If you've, say, written an analysis of a poem, you've used the same skills.
You've given an analysis of the poem by describing and analyzing its form and meter.
A formal analysis paper in art history is very similar.
Now, before you begin writing your formal analysis, you wanna start with a summary of the overall appearance of the work, a brief description of what you see: either figures, people, what are they doing, or is it a landscape, or an abstract representation of something.
Tell what the subject is and what aspects are emphasized in the painting.
This will give your reader an overview of what the work looks like before you analyze it.
The next part of your paper, the actual formal analysis, would be the longest and most important section of your paper, where you describe and analyze individual design elements.
For this portion of the paper, you are going to rely on the notes you took at the museum because you should be able to describe in detail the design elements the artist uses and how they are used.