Your paper assignment consists of two aspects that should be about equal in both length and consideration. The first concern is a formal analysis; the second is placing the work in an historical context based on what you have learned about the culture with which the work is associated. This does not require any additional research beyond you text and class notes, as the goal of the assignment is to integrate the basic elements of the class.
The goal of the formal analysis is to describe and explain the physical characteristics of the work that command your attention, i.e., composition, color, space, line, etc. Try to avoid value judgments – assessing something as good or bad – but explain what formal elements are present in the work and why they are there. Make sure you are thorough and coherent without overlooking anything.
The next aspect of the assignment is to explain how these physical properties of the work are related to the culture and time that produced it. What cultural values are through the formal qualities you have analyzed? What artistic concerns do these formal choices illustrate, and how do these concerns relate to the cultural context?
A large part of a work’s overall meaning resides in this relationship between the formal elements and the historical context. Your goal should be to use your skills of looking, noting, and analyzing to distill the significance of the piece you have chosen.
?If you consult outside sources, they must be properly cited or your paper will not be accepted.
Raphael, Madonna & Child Enthroned, 1504 (16.30ab)