Museum Writing Assignment

Museum Writing Assignment

ACD104.01 Art and Design History II: 18th Century to 1945
Museum Writing Assignment
David Hart
 Send attachment as a pdf or Microsoft Word
document from your CIA email account. Name you document:
FORMAT: The paper should be about 3-4 typed pages on 81/2 x 11 in. paper,
double-spaced and paginated with standard (about 1-inch) margins. Only one
space should separate paragraphs. Include your name, the professor's name, the
class and the date single-spaced on the first page. No sketches or photocopied
images are necessary. Check spelling and grammar.
ASSIGNMENT: Go to the Cleveland Museum of Art or go to and
choose a modernist work of art or design created between 1880-1940 currently
on view from one of the following galleries: 208 American art; 221 Modern
decorative art; 222 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art; 223 Modern
European art; 225 – 226 Modern art 228 Cleveland Gallery. Write an essay in
which you describe the work and explain why it is modernist. In your paper be
sure to point out specific parts of the work and use specific examples. Begin
your paper with a clear thesis sentence. Compare your chosen work to at least
one work in the textbook or other class readings.
First, identify your work by artist, title and date. Then describe the work so the
reader gets a sense of it overall. Your discussion should be based on what the
main elements are and then back up these statements with specific examples.
For a brief overview of formal elements and basic art historical terms refer to the
"Starter Kit" at the beginning of Stokstad and Cothren's Art History. Avoid
making personal, highly subjective judgments such as whether the artist was a
good or bad sculptor or how much you like or dislike a particular part. This paper
is not a personal essay.
Second, consider the following questions as a guide to your writing:
1) How is the work composed? Are the forms symmetric or asymmetric,
balanced or not balanced? How are parts related to one another and to
the whole?
2) How has the artist used color in the work? Is it used to establish focus?
3) Is the work an example of modernism?
4) To what degree is the work abstracted formally? How does the artist
depict space? Is it depicted naturalistically or not?
5) Has the artist crafted the work with their own hands or used found
objects? Is the "hand of the artist" visible or has it been concealed?

6) Does the work have a subject? If so describe it. Is its subject matter based
on things in the real world or not?
7) Does the work belong to a particular style of movement? If so discuss the
characteristics of that style or movement.
8) Is the work primitivist? If so, explain why.
This is by no means a complete list of questions. They are posed to get you
thinking about your chosen work. If you need help, feel free to contact me by
email or see me after class so we can arrange to meet. Feel free to contact the
Writing + Learning Center for help with writing your paper if you have trouble.
No research is required for this assignment and it is not necessary to ask the
museum staff for information on the works of art. This assignment is based on
your own careful looking and analyzing and what you have learned in class. You
will need to cite the museum’s web site or wall label and your textbook or class
readings. For that reason, all papers must have in-text citations such as
(Stokstad Cothren, 1001) and a “Works Cited” page at the end. Failure to cite
sources or copying text from a printed source without proper citation is academic
cheating (plagiarism) and could result in an F on the paper and possibly harsher
punishment. Your paper will be evaluated based on how effectively and
accurately you describe the work and if you were able to substantiate your
observations by pointing out specific parts of the work as examples. Your paper
will also be evaluated on your arguments concerning its modern elements. Your
paper should be clearly written and your ideas should flow logically from one to
the next. A list of short, choppy disjointed sentences will receive a low grade.
Cleveland Museum of Art's hours:
Monday: CLOSED. Tuesday – Sunday: 10:00 AM-5:00 PM. If you decide to visit
in person go to and click “visit.” You will have to get a free ticket
to access the museum in person. If that is not possible or safe, no problem! As
an alternative just access art via the museum’s web site:, click
“art” and then “collection online”.

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