Visual Analysis

50. Visual Analysis

Image Chosen: Harmony in Red by Matisse, 1908
A visual analysis uses description of the visual elements of a work of art as evidence to support an argument: your interpretation of the work
– Things to Consider (chose only 3 elements) – Size and Scale, Medium, Techniques, Color, Texture, Condition, Composition (framing, geometry, balance, positioning of the viewer, contrast of light and dark, rhythm), Spatial Articulation (linear and/or aerial perspective, overlapping forms, absence of any of these devices), subject matter (consider how the scene characters, setting, and/or temporality are indicated), function, original context, symbolism
Spend time looking carefully and closely at your selected image and consider the impact or effect of the artist’s or producer’s various choices regarding medium, content (subject matter), formal elements (line, shape, form, colour, texture, space, value), and principles of design (balance, proportion and scale, rhythm, emphasis, unity and variety). Finally, organize your observations into an argument, the thesis of which might be an assertion about the overall visual impact or effect of the image.
You may compare and contrast your chosen image with others if you feel this will strengthen your argument or add depth to your analysis. Do keep in mind, however, that with a page limit of two to three pages you will need to pick out what you consider to be your most persuasive and interesting arguments and then communicate them concisely. Be sure to proofread your final draft carefully, since grammar, punctuation, and spelling will factor into your grade.
– The point is to ARGUE an interpretation using visual evidence, convince the reader
NOTE: Describe the work in a logical order (left to right, top to bottom, front to back, etc.).
How to organize your Paper:
1. Begin with your thesis.
2. Provide a short general description to orient the reader before moving on to examine details.
Note: Describe the work in a logical order (left to right, top to bottom, front to back, etc.). Also if you tell me, for instance, that the cat is next to the chair, don’t forget to mention where is the chair…
3. Use visual evidence to support your thesis (i.e., your interpretation).
4. Offer a convincing conclusion.

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