First Look

When analyzing art, you should look for the various elements to help determine its structure, meaning and value. The traditional seven elements are as follows:

  • Line
  • Shape
  • Space
  • Color
  • Value
  • Texture

These two resources give details about each one:

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  • The John Paul Getty Museum – Elements of Art
  • Robert J. McKnight Memorial – Alphabet of Art

Without conducting ANY additional research this week, we are going to explore what you initially see and think when you look at a work of art. This activity is meant to help you understand:

  • Utilize the formal vocabulary in describing works of art
  • Analyze how the subject and context of work can help with interpretation

Select four (4) works of the first half of 20th century American art from the list below.

For each work of art:

  1. 1. List the artist, date and title.
  2. Write a paragraph that discusses the visual elements in the art work (For example, are the shapes geometric, or organic. What colors are used, etc.?). Using the resources above, describe how the elements work together. Note: You do not have to use every element in your description, but rather the two or three that seem to be the most prominent in the work.
  3. Write a second paragraph that describes the subject matter of the art work. What do you the artist might have been trying to say with this art work? Remember to consider the time frame in which the artwork was made. *Remember that you should not conduct research on this art work – the grade is based on your ability to support how the subject matter or time frame helped you interpret the meaning.

Your essay should be no less than 200 words for each of the four works you are examining (for a combined total of no less than 800 words).

  • George Bellows, New York, 1911
    http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/art-object-page.69392.html
  • Georgia O’Keeffe, The Shelton with Sunspots, N.Y., 1926
    http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/citi/images/standard/WebLarge/WebIm g_000153/5215_1643843.jpg
    Charles Sheeler, American Landscape, 1930
    http://www.wikiart.org/en/charles-sheeler/american-landscape-1930
    Alexandre Hogue, Erosion No. 2: Earth Mother Laid Bare, 1936
    https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/erosion-no-2-mother-earth-laid-bare/TQGSdf6Cdrs-VQ
    Jacob Lawrence. Migration Series, No. 58. 1940‐1941.
    http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2015/onewayticket/panel/58
    Willem de Kooning, Woman III, 1951‐1953
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e7/Woman3.jpg
    Jackson Pollock, Convergence, 1952
    http://www.jackson-pollock.org/convergence.jsp

When you are finished, please submit your essay to the drop box as a single document.

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