Explain how the rhythmic arrangement of certain elements in the painting Bowl of Apples on the Table by Henri Matisse is the main unifying principle of the composition”.

Explain how the rhythmic arrangement of certain elements in the painting Bowl of Apples on the Table by Henri Matisse is the main unifying principle of the composition”. )

1. this is… (what?) a drawing on paper, made with crayons/wax crayons;
or this is a sculpture assembled from two objects;
or this is a jewelry piece made with copper and silver
2. how big is it? Large/small – give dimensions, or approximate dimensions
3. what does it represent? Figures in a city landscape/ large nude female figures
and two small children in underwear
4. what is in the center, what is to the right, to the left?
When this part of the paper is successfully accomplished, proceed to the more
detailed description, always following from the general to the detailed. This way the
reader will not get lost in the minutia of your description but will be able to refer to the
already established general view of the work in his mind. Every so often stop writing and
look at the paper critically. Have you really managed to present your thoughts clearly so
far? Can the reader follow your description with ease?
When you have completed the description, you can proceed to the analysis. The purpose
of the analysis is to understand the composition of the work of art. You need to address
the formal elements particularly relevant to this work of art. They might be: line, shape,
mass, light, value, color, texture, pattern, space, time, motion, unity, variety,
balance, emphasis, subordination, scale, proportion, rhythm. Ask how they are
achieved and what role or function do they have in the expressive value of this particular
work. Not all of them will apply to your work of art and not all will be essential for your
investigation. If you are for example interested in the rhythmic distribution of elements
you will give them your full attention. You cannot write about everything, so follow your
thesis statement and give evidence that you are correct in the statement.
Think about the size, format, the kind of space the artist has constructed or alluded to,
and consider the forms that are used within it. What about scale? What light sources are
employed? What is the character of the light (even? soft? dramatic, selective?) how are
figures used? Do they overlap, how are they related to each other? How many are there?
What part do poses, placement, gesture, facial expression, play in creating the effect the
artist may have intended?
Consider the quality of character of lines, of colors, of shapes, textures. Are such
elements used consistently throughout the work? Do they change in direction? Intensity?
How do they contribute to stability or dynamism in the composition? How do they
contribute to symmetry, asymmetry, and other kinds of balance or equilibrium? When is
contrast an artistic strategy?
How do all the elements come together in the work of art? Has your interpretation,
perception, or reaction to the artwork itself or the artists’ intention changed in the course
of your description and formal analysis? Have you succeeded in getting someone else to
see what you see as valuable in this work of art?
When writing about a sculpture think about the kind of space the sculptor imagines for
this piece and consider the contours that are used. What about scale? How is balance
achieved? How does it contribute to stability or dynamism in the composition? What
about the patterns, and shapes that make up the composition or design? How does the
light in the gallery affect the sculpture? What light sources are employed? What is the
character of the light (even dramatic, soft, selective, fluid – what words would you use?)
Are the sculptural elements used consistently through the work? Do they change in
direction? Intensity? Level of finish? How do they contribute to symmetry, asymmetry,
and other kinds of balance or equilibrium? How does the material play with the
expression of the sculpture (steel, wood, polychromed wood, marble)? Is this the
sculpture in the round? How do you move around it? Is the size of it large or small and
how does that affect your interaction with it?
The analysis is a way of understanding a composition
Expressions like “this is great, wonderful” are only meaningful to you. A
reader who does not know you may imagine something different. Be precise and
methodical in your observations and specific in your explanations.
Use literary language. Colloquial or vernacular expressions (that means how you
talk to your friends in a casual manner) should not be used in this paper.
Here are some common expressions to avoid:
The picture jumped out at me and grabbed me
This is a great masterpiece and I will never forget it
The piece screamed at me and pulled me in
When you have finished, give your paper to someone else to read and ask for comments.
Are you confident that your reader can follow your analysis? Ask him/her to point out
any grammar-spelling-punctuation mistakes.
Write your paper in front of your chosen work of art in the Galleries. Bring a seat
or a cushion. Make plentiful notes. Give yourself a lot of time to look and to write your
observations down. Make some sketches; they will be an invaluable aid in your efforts to
understand the composition and structure of your chosen work of art. The paper should
be 2-3 pages long, double- spaced with the cover sheet stating your name, course
number, the title, the photograph (a selfie) of the work of art and a caption (the name of
the artist, the title, date of completion, technique, dimensions and location (for example
The Baron and Ellin Gordon Galleries, Norfolk).
Remember, you are not writing a research paper, but a description and an analysis
of a work of art. Here you are learning to look, to draw conclusions and to
communicate them to others.
If you feel the need to include a basic historical information, please use the
material from the wall didactics in the galleries and cite the source, but remember – no
extensive research. This is not the object of the paper and will not count in your favor.
The most important source to draw on when writing your analysis is S. Barnet, A
Short Guide to Writing about Art (recent edition) especially chapter 2. Familiarize
yourself thoroughly with suggestions included in these pages. Make sure to attribute any
specific information (e.g. “according to the wall label”). Information given without
stating its source is a case of plagiarism and effectively an intellectual theft.Rubric
Rubric for Written Assignments
Response

Criteria

Points

Exemplary

Clarity of thought, Complete. Shows understanding of all processes, thoughtful questions, conclusions supportable by research material (as appropriate).

90 – 100

Competent

Clarity of thought, shows understanding of major processes, includes good questions, draws acceptable conclusions.

80 – 90

Nearly Satisfactory

Begins successfully, but omits significant parts or fails to complete, representations may be incorrect or omitted, and weak conclusions.

70 – 80

Fails to complete

Assignment and explanation is unclear, or major flaws in concept mastery, inappropriate or omitted hypothesis.

60 – 70

No attempt

Does not begin assignment.

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