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Art Appreciation 1301 - Espronceda, Alfonso: Themes in Art

Skeletal Couple with Child (Moche, 3rd-7th c.)

Image of Moche vessel

Bride (Paula Rego, 1994)

Image of Paula Rego's Bride

Searching as Strategic Exploration

Getting Started:

Part 5 of your textbook (8th ed.; Chapters 21-27) is dedicated to various themes explored in works of art and architecture over a variety of cultures throughout history.

 Step 1:  Browse through these seven chapters in your textbook, looking for works of art and/or architecture that interest you for a research project.  From the list that I have provided, identify where your selected topic falls within the outline of themes.  Read that section of your textbook, carefully, identifying specific artworks and/or structures that represent that theme.   Finally, choose one specific work to investigate further.

 Step 2:  Write a brief proposal for your Research Paper (use Proposal Form), stating the following:

  • the theme you will be investigating;
  • the artist/s or architect/s selected from your textbook to research (if identified);
  • the three or more artworks or structures you have selected; and
  • at least five (5) keywords for each artwork selected that will help you research your topic, pertaining to:
    • medium (e.g., painting, architecture, sculpture,)
    • culture (e.g. Japan, American, Latin American, etc.)
    • time period (contemporary, Renaissance, 19th century, etc.)
    • theme (gender identity, birth, death [funerary, burial], environment, technology, etc.)
  • Themes:
      • Spiritual Belief
      • The Life Cycle
      • Love and Sex
      • The Body, Gender. and Identity
      • Power
      • Science, Technology, and the Environment 

 Final Paper

The contents of your paper should include the following:

  1. A clear description of the theme you have chosen to investigate. (1/2 page)
  2. Information on the artist(s) or architect(s), and/or type of artwork or structure you are researching. (some works will not be attributed to an artist/architect) Include the history of the artist, relevant art movements, cultural research (for ancient art or cultural artifacts) (about 1 page)
  3. A thorough formal analysis of 3 to 4 works of art and/or architecture that represent your selected theme. (2-3 pages)
    • Using art-specific terminology from the textbook and lecture. To receive full credit, students should take care to define terms and describe their use in the artwork. 
    • Differentiate between the processes and materials used to create each artwork discussed.
    • Determine the style of the artwork.
    • Discuss the art elements and principles of design used within each artwork discussed.
  4. A summary of how the various works you have examined represent the theme. Critically interpreting and evaluating works of art in relationship to the theme and their impact on culture. Here you may want to summarize similarities and differences in how the works of art or architecture reflect this. (1-2 pages)
  5. An explanation of what initially drew you to the artwork? Was there anything particularly interesting that you learned about the artwork through research? Has your interest in or value for the artwork changed after researching? (1/2 page)
  6. Works Cited page.

In total, three or more works should be examined, only one of which was represented in your textbook, but at least two more that you should discover through your research.

Your final paper will be a well-written essay, approximately five pages in length (standard font, double-spaced), with at least four to five cited sources in a Works Cited page.


Types of research needed to complete paper:

  • Cultural Research: Ancient art or cultural artifacts are rarely connected to a single artist. Instead you would research the culture (Ex. Oceanic Art), the objects (Egyptian Amphora) , the technique (19th Century Korean porcelain), or deity (Chinese Bodhisattva)
  • History of the Artist: Artwork created in the last few centuries is more likely to be associated with a single artist. Research may include the artist’s upbringing, education, time period, or culture, Social, cultural or political issues may have influenced the development of the artist and artwork as well.
  • Media Research: Certain artists made significant advances in media, process, or technique. (Degas’ is recognized for his innovative mastery of pastels). If relevant, expand on the artist’s use of the process and media in this section.
  • Art Movements:. An art movement occurs when a group of artists share a common philosophy, style, or concept. Movements (Surrealism, Modernism, etc.) are often responses to societal norms or advances in technology.  Ancient art may not be associated with art movements. 

Off-campus access

Library databases require a login from off-campus!

  • ACES username is required for login
  • ACES password is your password for login

What does the login page look like?


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