learned in graduate school that the typical museum visitor will spend an average of 2.5 seconds in front of each artwork.  What does one see in 2.5 seconds?For this discussion, you should spend time

learned in graduate school that the typical museum visitor will spend an average of 2.5 seconds in front of each artwork.  What does one see in 2.5 seconds?

For this discussion, you should spend time with just one artwork piece (from a culture covered in this module) to analyze its subject, which means you will write about what is being portrayed in the piece you view.  This discussion is designed to help you connect this subject with the purpose of the work, or its original cultural context, as far as can be determined.

To prepare for this activity, please do the following:

  1. Identify a prehistoric or Mesopotamian artwork for a subject analysis. 
  2. Pick a work either illustrated in your book or a prehistoric or ancient Near Eastern work that you find online.  A great place to search is the Near Eastern Antiquities Department of the Louvre, Paris.
  3. Look at the piece of art and ask yourself: Does it have imagery? Do not use an undecorated pot or architecture sampling. You want to use a piece of art that has imagery for your analysis.
  4. Next, you will analyze and describe the subject of the image.  This may be blatantly obvious, or it may involve some outside research into individuals, history, or religious mythology.  For example, if your artwork involves the God Shamash, explain his importance.
  5. Think about the following questions when you analyze your chosen artwork:
    • Is what you are describing subject, or is it style?  Why?  Stay with subject matter here.  There is not always a clear-cut division between subject and style.
    • How is the work reflective of its culture, and what purpose did it serve in its original context?
    • Consider, if an artwork is taken from its site without a record of its original location, what do we lose in terms of historic knowledge?
  6. Write a 250 word initial post.  Please include the following:
    • Identify the work by title, culture, date, material (medium) and its present location.  (This is standard identifying information when introducing any artwork.)
    • Include either a link to the artwork or an attached image of the artwork to share with your peers. 
    • Describe the artwork’s subject and how that subject reflects its original culture or the work’s original purpose. Are there unanswered questions about the meaning or purpose of the work?  Outside research is always useful and welcome, but sources must be properly cited using the APA style guide.
  7. Once you have completed your initial post, you are to respond to two or more peers. When responding, take a peer’s subject analysis, and provide the style analysis for his/her work.  This is a discussion, so feel free to contribute brief subject and style observations to multiple posts.  Many eyes produce more insights.
  8. Remember, in this discussion, using descriptive words is vital.  Think about how figures look. 
    • Is there depth? 
    • Is there clarity and order, or is the image chaotic?
    • Think about whether the style conforms to conventions of the time period.
    • Much can be said about style, but it takes some looking.

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