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Art Written Assignment

Art Written Assignment


Chapter 15 explores prehistory, ancient Mesopotamia, and ancient Egypt and Chapter 16 is all about the Classical and Medieval Worlds. For this next written assignment, you’ll pick one of the topics below to write about.

  1. Select one topic to write about in 300 words or more. 
  2. Include in-text citations and cite your sources in MLA format 
    • Please don’t cut and paste info from the web without using quotes and citing your sources (this is plagiarism) and try to write as much as you can in your own words. It’s more important to hear what you think about these topics, than what other’s have written. 
    • Need help knowing how to cite and use in-text citations? See here. 
  3. Include images and the artwork information as best as you can (some prompts have this information more readily available than others). 

OPTION #1 – Prehistoric Art

As you have discovered, the original meaning and purpose of many of the Prehistoric works we’ve looked at have now been lost to us. For this topic, you’ll need to select one of three options below to write about – cave paintings, the nude woman, or Stonehenge. 

  • For cave paintings: we’ve looked at a number of examples and scholars still are unclear as to what was their purpose and the meaning of what’s depicted. Select one example and explain what you feel to be the purpose, meaning, and function of cave paintings. What are some specific elements in cave paintings that support this interpretation for you?  
  • For ‘Nude Woman’ or ‘Woman (or Venus) of Willendorf’: This work is one of many carved nude female figures from prehistory. Explain what scholars have traditionally thought these figures to mean and what is a new interpretation of these works. Which do you find more convincing and why? Lastly explain why art historians have stopped using the name “Venus of Willendorf” and instead use Nude Woman to describe her? 
  • For Stonehenge: Stonehenge is a fascinating structure and while we know some about how it was made, little is known about why it was made. Explain two interpretations of what Stonehenge’s purpose could have been. Both should be feasible, explaining why you feel this purpose/function could be valid. 

OPTION #2 – Ancient Egyptian Art Today

For this topic, you’ll think about why references to ancient Egyptian art still appear so strongly today and what this could mean. What makes it so influential and also so recognizable? Pick a visual reference to ancient Egyptian art from today and your example can be anything from an advertisement, tv show or movie, building, or a logo.

  • First, describe what you’ve selected and what are the recognizable ancient Egyptian elements to it. 
  • Second, explain, in your opinion, what you think the references to ancient Egypt mean and why you think ancient Egyptian art, in general, is still so influential to people today.  

OPTION #3 – Stained Glass and Abbot Suger

For this topic you will write about the importance and popularity of stained glass in cathedrals. Please read Abbot Suger’s theories on light and explain his ideas and how they were practically applied.

  • Some questions to think about answering include: What was the purpose of stained glass and what did these windows depict? What are common themes for stained glass windows and why? How do they change over time? What is the legacy of stained glass for us today?
  • Please include at least one cathedral and its stained glass as an example. Don’t forget the artwork info!  
  • Here is a helpful link (Links to an external site.)

OPTION #3 – Illuminated Manuscripts

For this topic you will write about the importance of illuminated manuscripts (the Getty & Metropolitan Museum of Art have helpful sites).

  • Some questions to think about answering include: What were they and why were they so revered? Who and how were they made? What are some common themes, scenes, and marginal figures and why? How do we see illuminated manuscripts change over time? What are marginal images?
  • Please include at least one manuscript in detail and include images. Don’t forget the artwork info!  
  • Here is a helpful link. (Links to an external site.)

OPTION #4 – Gargoyles

For this topic you will write about gargoyles found on Gothic cathedrals.

  • With a brief introduction on the history of gargoyles, think about answering some of these questions (no need to answer all): What are they and what was their purpose? What are some common types of gargoyles? What is the relationship between these figures and cathedrals? In your opinion, why are they so fascinating and so prevalent in popular culture?
  • Please include at least two different kinds of gargoyles from two different cathedrals and include images.   Don’t forget the artwork info!  

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