The compare and contrast essay gives you an opportunity select two works of art that you observe in person from our local museums and galleries. The assignment asks you to use a compare and contrast format to examine the two works in depth while at the same time showing how one of the works inspires you and fits your aesthetic and conceptual sensibility better than the other. The two works can both be inspirational in different ways; the two works can both inspire in the same way but one more than the other, one of the works can inspire and the other goes in a different direction in one of the categories of analysis. Compare and contrast essays are most effective when both similarities and differences are defined.
A. Give the essay a title that foreshadows your reason for choosing the works
1. Begin with a statement of what qualities inspire you when viewing works of visual art.
-Refer to at least one of the basic terms
2. Introduce the two works of art you selected
-Include the artist, title, and date for each work, and where it is located
-Include information about a work located next to the works you select
3. Follow by addressing how the two works relate to one another
-See the second to last sentence in the general description above for some ideas.
-Include a brief description of the works (ex. Landscape painting vs figurative sculpture)
-Emphasize specific qualities over judgements in the introduction
(Ex. “Both works are sculptural forms that inspire but one emphasizes the qualities of
balance and movement in three-dimensional space that connect with my individual
4. Finish the introduction with a statement of how you will convince the reader that the two
works relate in the way you say they do.
1. The body of the essay must address the similarities and differences in each of the following
categories: -Form, Content, Historical Connections, Technique, and Value
-This can be done in one of two ways.
a. Take each category above and detail the similarities and differences one by one each in a separate paragraph. Make sure to draw attention to the specific qualities that inspire as you go along.
b. Take each work one at a time and write about each of the above categories as it relates to that work.
-In this format it is very important to draw attention to the most important similarities and differences in the conclusion.
(Continue on page 2)
2. Make sure that you include vivid descriptions that allow the reader to visualize the
work even if they cannot see a picture of the work.
-Make sure to research sources to support your interpretations of content, technique, and historical connection. (include source information in the body of your text)
1. Begin the conclusion with an overall statement that describes your aesthetic or conceptual sensibility including reference to one or more categories from our basic terms list. Reference the work that has inspired and connected to that sensibility the most and revisit briefly why it is a better fit than the other work. Reference the art historical era or movement that the work represents and if other works from that style are also inspirational. Make a connection between your individual values and the work that has inspired you the most.
2. Include some discussion of what kind of audience be interested in your tour.
3. Make sure your conclusion connects to your introduction
Georgia O’Keeffe’s, White Birch, 1925 and Bror Julius Olsson Nordfeldt’s, Summer Dusk (Solitude), 1920
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