Posted: September 17th, 2017
Variable Topics in Western Art: Classical Myths in Art
Go to a museum – the Getty Center or Villa, LACMA, Norton Simon, or the Huntington Library (your choice – whichever one you’ve been wanting to visit for a while) – and find an artwork there that illustrates or is inspired by a classical myth (you can see on the syllabus which ones we are discussing if you need to narrow things down, or select one that we are not covering but Ovid tells). Look carefully at the work and write a 3-5 page paper on it. I am attaching the guidelines for writing a paper to this message.
Select an artwork from one of the Los Angles museums – I want you to see and study it in person before writing. Please include in your paper a full identification of the work so that I know what you are writing about and preferably an image of it. In a pinch, take a picture with your phone and send it to me so that I can follow your visual analysis.
Write a well-structured paper of about 3-5 pages on this work: describe what it is, what it is made of, and do your best to place it into its likely original context –historical, religious, political, cultural – whatever is appropriate.
The goal of this paper is to time travel through a work of art, to learn to read it as a window onto a culture that produce it, to imagine a world in which this work was used. Feel free to think broadly and vividly. Place yourself in the shoes of the person who may have acquired and used this object.
What is the work? Identify it as fully as possible. What are the materials from which it is made? What does it depict? What does it seek to convey to its viewer? How does it do that? Look carefully at all the details – spend time examining the work closely, savoring its particulars, and thinking of why they are included in this work. Why did the artist decide to tell this myth in this particular way?
Who may have commissioned or acquired this work and for what purpose? In what setting might it have been used and by whom? Why might this person have chosen an artwork with this myth?
Construct an argument around this work and present it in a clear, organized, and compelling way, using close visual analysis, Ovid, and course notes to substantiate your argument. Be as specific as possible, describe what you see precisely, not generally.
Feel free to use additional sources if you are inspired – but include full citations to these sources to attribute properly the ideas you may take from them. Feel free to cite other works you’ve seen in class, or found on your own, to add to your argument. Be sure to proofread the paper well and edit it for proper grammar. Avoid the deadly sin of plagiarism.
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