Can you see the form of the body under the drapery?
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All of the following questions below should be answered TWICE, once for each of the following pieces of art:
Madonna and Child in a Landscape, by Cima da Conegliano
Virgin and Child Enthroned and Donor, Angels, by Pietro Lorenzetti
To prepare, make a list of the characteristics of each of these styles/periods and list a couple of works of art from each style/period that best exemplifies those characteristics. If you have trouble doing this, go back and watch and read and review. If you have questions, ask me! Then, on the exam, when you are looking at and describing the unknown image you can check what you see against the characteristics of these different styles.
Always consider the following questions (in your preparation for the midterm, and when writing essays themselves):
How does the artist treat the human body?
Is the body in correct proportion or is it elongated and thin? if it’s not in correct proportion – where do you see that?
Does the body have a sense of weight or is it weightless? How can you tell?
Can you see the form of the body under the drapery? If so, where? And what is the artist doing to achieve that effect?
Do the figures appear three dimensional or flat?
Does the artist use hierarchy of scale or is the relative sizes of the figures naturalistic?
Is there an interest in human anatomy, or is there more of an interest in our spiritual nature (and not so much on our physical nature)? Or is there both? How and where do you see that?
Is the body (including the face) expressive? In what way? What emotions are expressed?
How does the artist use the figures, and their placement, and gestures and expressions to tell the story?
How does the artist treat space and light?
Is there an illusion of space (assuming this is not sculpture or architecture)?
How does the artist create an illusion of space? What techniques is he using? Foreshoretning? Linear perspective? If so – where do you see evidence of these techniques? Is there no illusion of space – in other words is the image flat looking? Or is there some illusion of space – but not one that makes sense?
How is the artist using light? Does the artist use cast shadows? If so, where do you see them? Why might the artist have used shadows? Does the artist use modeling (if so, where)?
Why did the artist make all these decisions? What are the historical factors/ ways of thinking that contributed to his decisions?
Other important questions
How is this artist’s achievement important?
How did this period differ from the periods before?
How does this work of art “fit” with the typical style of the Early Renaissance, Late Gothic etc (whatever period you are guessing)?
Support your argument with evidence from the work of art. Tell me what you see and where you see it! If you also want to guess the artist and subject, that’s fine, but you should explain why and this should not be a significant part of your essays. Do not generalize! Be specific!
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