1 Springtime,1873Pierre-Auguste Cot2 “‘A Lovely Garland’ (Tamakazura): Tamatori-ama,” from the series Scenes amid Genji Clouds Matched with Ukiyo-e Pictures (Genji-gumo ukiyo e-awase)Utagawa Kuniyoshi (Japanese, 1797–1861)
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Before you begin, click on each link in the following website that explains the elements and
principles of design:
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, choose two works of art to observe and
describe—one must be from Europe or the U.S. (ca. 1850-1945) and the other must
be Japanese (17th century-ca. 1945). This is an exercise in “looking and seeing” and
will introduce you to formalism, one of the methodologies for studying art.
Provide an image of each work you choose and identify it:
• Artist (if known)
• Title (or description of object)
• Date of creation
• Medium (what is it made of? e.g. oil on canvas, ink on paper, ceramic, etc.)
• Culture of origin (where was it made? e.g. Japan, France, U.S.)
NB: DO NOT USE A PHOTO OF THE MUSEUM LABEL FOR THIS PART—YOU MUST
DEMONSTRATE THAT YOU CAN RECOGNIZE EACH OF THE ABOVE ELEMENTS OF
Spend at least 20 minutes looking at each work of art you choose, closely and
quietly. Then describe as many of the elements and principles of design (from the
website above) as possible in each of your chosen works, as thoroughly as possible
and using descriptive language (your total description must be at least 300 words for
You should edit and polish your writing before you submit this assignment, but the
observation and description should be done in the museum in front of the artwork.
Write down your observations as you’re looking—don’t rely on memory or photos.
Challenge yourself to see more by drawing. Make a sketch—the goal is not the
outcome, but the process. Drawing something helps you see it better, and you’ll
notice things you wouldn’t otherwise.
In addition to the required reading in the link above, you may find the following resources
Descriptive words to talk about art:
A more inclusive list of descriptive words:
Elements of Art:
Elements and Principles of Art: http://www.projectarticulate.org/principles.php
Elements of Art (these are short videos and include useful visual examples):
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