Arts and Cultures Across Antiquity
Second Essay Assignment
Select an ancient Greek, Chinese, or Egyptian work of art from the choices below. In five or six double-spaced pages, write an analytical description of the work, evaluate its success or failure as a piece of art, and discuss how it is or isn’t representative of its period and place of origin. In writing about your piece, be as detailed as possible; for instance, instead of simply saying that a piece is “beautiful” or “moving,” talk about the artist’s use of material, color, shapes, textures, etc. that combine to create the emotional and intellectual effects to which you refer. The questions below are intended as GUIDELINES to help you organize your thoughts, but you should not attempt to answer them one-by-one in your paper. Instead, integrate your thoughts into a well-organized essay.
DO NOT USE SECONDARY SOURCES EXCEPT FOR INFORMATION PROVIDED BY THE MUSEUM DESCRIPTION OF THE WORK AND/OR INFORMATION PROVIDED BY THE SITE FROM WHICH THE IMAGE COMES (which should be documented if used). You may refer to your Gombrich text, however; be sure to document its use–even if you are not quoting the text exactly. You may also refer to anything you have learned from the course meetings and whatever materials I have provided to you, of course. In those cases, simply refer to the course meeting date(s) or some abbreviated reference to the source(s), e.g., “NYU Classes,” :GIG,”, etc. Any plagiarized paper will receive a grade of “F.”
The due date is indicated on the syllabus; any extensions must be requested prior to the due date. LATE PAPERS WILL BE DOWN-GRADED.
Questions to Consider
When and where was the piece made? Do we know the artist? Does the piece have a name (given by whom?), and if so, what does that tell us?
What is the relation of the subject and the form?
Does the work have a particular function? Do we know how, where, by whom it was intended to be used?
Is the work like others you have seen or read about?
Does the piece tell a story? Create a mood?
Can we tell anything about the artist’s intentions by looking at the work?
Is the work successful or not? On what is your assessment based?
Is the age/style of the piece in any way problematic for a modern viewer?
How do technical compositional details (material, size, color, texture, etc.) contribute to the overall effect of the work?
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