Research Assignment: Critical Essay




Research Assignment: Critical Essay


For this assignment, you will be required to complete a critical essay about 3 different works of art from the same period and style. Selected works of art must be chosen from the 1600s to the present (Baroque period through the Postmodern period).


The goals of a critical essay are to evaluate and analyze the works of art based on research using the terms, phrases, and concepts that you have learned throughout the course. The critical aspect of the essay refers to a detached (objective) attitude, not whether you react positively or negatively to the works. Research is required.


Your 3 art choices must comply with the following criteria:


  • The 3 artworks chosen must be of the same style or time period. The 3 artworks must be by different artists.
  • Choose from the following styles of art (dated 1600 to present):
    • Baroque
    • Rococo
    • Romanticism
    • Neoclassicism
    • Realism
    • Impressionism
    • German Expressionism
    • Cubism
    • Abstract Expressionism
    • Surrealism
    • Pop Art
    • Minimalism
    • Contemporary Art
  • The 3 works of art must have a similar theme. Some examples include the following:
    • Landscapes
    • Works that focus on religious content
    • Portraits
    • Works of political content,
    • Works of modern architecture
    • Nudes
    • Works depicting women and children
  • Two of the artworks must be from artists that are discussed in the textbook.


Note: If you choose a work of art that is not from the textbook, the artist must be discussed in the text. Begin your search by reviewing artists in the text. Then, you can search other Internet sources for his or her other works of art.


Writing the Critical Essay


Use the following as a guide to help you write your critical essay:


  • Begin with a thesis statement.
    • Include an introduction that lists the 3 artworks (author and date of work) and explains the style and the theme of the artworks.
    • Discuss why you chose these 3 works of art.
  • Describe each work of art by explaining the following (do not simply list the information):
    • What are the materials used?
    • What is the size?
    • What is the subject matter? (What is literally depicted?)
    • What is the focal point?
    • What is the content? (What is the meaning or message?)
    • What are the dominant colors?
    • Is there symbolism? If so, what does it represent?
    • What are the defining characteristics of the particular style?
  • Discuss the artists.
    • Include a summary of the artists’ personal philosophies of art and the prevailing trends and schools of thought in the art world at the time.
    • Was the artist reacting to events of the time period?
    • Include any information that might help the reader understand the artist’s point of view or why the artist made his or her choices in this work of art. You may want to find a quote from the artist that explains his or her philosophy.
  • Discuss the context of the artwork.
    • Explain how each work of art fits into the context of the time period.
    • What was going on at the time?
    • Did this influence the artist?
    • Elaborate on the historical events of the time to indicate how art and culture are interwoven.
  • Complete a comparative analysis, focusing on the following criteria:
    • Subject matter: What is actually depicted? How are they different?
    • Content or meaning: How are they different?
    • Symbolism: What are the differences in each work, if any?
    • Aesthetic issues: What makes them different in terms of form, materials, or overall artistic expression?
  • End with a conclusion.
    • Briefly summarize the information, and explain the significance of the 3 works that you chose. Include your personal overview.


Research is required. In text citations are required. A list of references to align with the citations is required.


You will need to use the library to learn about the artists. In the library, complete the following steps:


  1. Click “Find Articles and Books”
  2. Search for the artist’s name, the time period or art movement, or the title of the work of art.
  3. Click “Find Web Resources.”
  4. Click “General Studies.”
  5. Click “Art.”


Your final submission should include the following:


  • A cover page
  • A fully developed critical essay with an introductory paragraph (with a thesis statement), a body, and a conclusion
  • A list of references to align with in-text citations
  • Images of the 3 works of art that you chose


You are required to comply with APA style format for quotations, internal citations, and references. For additional information and resources on APA, visit the APA section of the Library, available under Library Features.


This assignment will also be assessed using additional criteria provided here.


Please submit your assignment.


For assistance with your assignment, please use your text, Web resources, and all course materials. Please refer to the following multimedia course material(s):