uA formal analysis includes an analysis of the forms appearing in the work you have chosen. These forms give the work its expression, message, or meaning. A formal analysis assumes a work of art is (1) a constructed object (2) that has been created with a stable meaning (even though it might not be clear to the viewer) (3) that can be ascertained by studying the relationships between the elements of the work. To aid in writing a formal analysis, you should think as if you were describing the work of art to someone who has never seen it before. When your reader finishes reading your analysis, she/he should have a complete mental picture of what the work looks like. Yet, the formal analysis is more than just a description of the work. It should also include a thesis statement that reflects your conclusions about the work. The thesis statement may, in general, answer a question like these: What do I think is the meaning of this work? What is the message that this work or artist sends to the viewer? What is this work all about? The thesis statement is an important element. It sets the tone for the entire paper, and sets it apart from being a merely descriptive paper.
Format for the Paper: Two and a half to three pages (not including title page, if you use one), black ink, double spaced, 10 or 12 pt type (Times only), 1″ borders. Make sure you proofread your papers for adhering to the information listed above, as well as incorrect grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other errors. In addition, make sure your paper includes a thesis statement. Your grade will reflect your ability to follow these guidelines.
In the first paragraph, called the introduction, you will include:
*the name of the artist (if known), title (which is underlined or italicized every time vou use the title in vour paper), date, and medium (if known) what you think is the subject
* a very brief description of the work
* thesis statement – usually the last line or so of your first paragraph
From that point, the rest of the formal analysis should include not only a description of the piece, but especially those details of the work that have led you to come to your thesis. Yet, your paper should not be a random flow of ideas about the work (i.e. stream of consciousness writing). Rather, your paper should have a sense of order, moving purposefully through your description with regard to specific elements (ex: one paragraph may deal with composition, another with a description of the figures, another with the background, another about line, etc.). Finally, in your conclusion (the final paragraph) you should end your paper with a restatement of your thesis.
It is important to remember that your interest here is strictly formal; NO RESEARCH IS TO BE USED IN THIS PAPER. In other words, you are strictly relying on your ability to visually ‘read’ a work of art and make interpretations about it based on your analysis of it. Remember too that your analysis should not be just a mechanical, physical description. Please use descriptive language and adjectives to describe your work. Begin with a general description of the work, and then move on to the more specific elements. In addition, please refer to your syllabus concerning my policy on plagiarism – do not share your thesis or paper with other students and please do not work on your paper with another student.m