Writing in Art History


It is required that you visit the Menil Collection (1533 Sul Ross St.). You will select a single gallery within the Modern and Contemporary wing and write a 5-7 page paper describing how the works of art (at least two individual works) speak

To the historical context of the time frame within which they were created. By

Interpreting and evaluating the works, you will describe how they specifically convey the socio- political and cultural context of the period. www.menil.org

This paper will follow suit with the format of your first paper and will include an

Introduction with a thesis statement, a body with supportive evidence and of

Course you will close the paper with a solid conclusion that reminds the audience

Of your thesis statement.

For this paper you will need to study the artist(s) and the time period in which the works were created, the techniques and processes they employed, their vision and mission regarding their work, and how their work influenced the era and contributed significantly to the art historical canon.

Why is their work important, why would it be worthy of hanging in one of the most renowned museums in the world, and how do the works hanging together convey

Meaning or create a dynamic narrative?


The building blocks of a visual design

Line: Can be actual (seen) or implied (interpreted; can outline forms (contour), create textures, and establish directions and accents;

Can be thick or thin, curving or angular, smooth or rough, free or controlled.

Shape (two dimensions) and

Mass (three dimensions):

Can be actual or implied, closed or open, geometric or organic, or combination of any of these.


Can be actual, as seen in sculpture and architecture, or illusionistic, as seen in naturalistic paintings (where you can often tell the angle of the “light,” and sometimes the time of day, from the placement of highlights and the direction of

The shadows).


Refers to the scale of light to dark ranging from pure white to pure black. A work that stresses contrast between very high and very low values (like some photographs and most paintings by Rembrandt) is very different in effect from a

Work composed of values from a narrower range of the scale (like most frescoe paintings and watercolors, typically high on the value scale).


Individual colors are described in terms of hue (the pure colors of the color wheel), value (lightness or darkness, as above, which can be manipulated by adding white, for a tint, or black for a shade), and saturation or intensity (brilliance or  dullness), which can be lowered by adding other colors. What we commonly call light pink, for example, is a low intensity tint of the hue red. Combinations of colors in a work (palettes) sometimes employ a scheme or harmony.


Three common harmonies are complimentary, formed from two hues directly opposite each other on the color wheel (such as yellow and violet), analogous, formed from hues next to each other on the color wheel (such as blue-green, green, and yellow–‐green) and triadic, formed from three hues equidistant on the color wheel (such as red, yellow and blue)…

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