Visual analysis and comparison

Visual Analysis and comparison: This assignment requires that you visit a local museum (the Norton Simon Museum of Art (highly recommended for South and Southeast Asian sculpture) or the USC Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, LACMA (note: limited open galleries though a Chinese painting exhibition open on 2/9), or the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana), in order to make direct and close observations of a specific work of art object and its display. Be prepared to take detailed notes and make a sketch, as this will help you observe more details, which you can then use to write a well-organized and very specific analysis. You may also take photos without flash. Please also take a selfie and submit it with your paper as proof of your visit.

DUE TO THE CLOSURE OF MANY MAJOR MUSEUMS: You may visit ONLINE any of the major museums around the world. Here is;all_p=1

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Paper Topic:

For this paper, you will utilize two common art-historical approaches – visual analysis and visual comparison – to observe, analyze, and articulate specific differences in the form, iconography, and style of two works of art. ONE of these pieces must currently be on display at a local museum. The other you will find in your readings or the slide presentations.

The work must come from South Asia, Southeast Asia, China, Korea, or Japan, PRIOR to 1900. The works should have at least one aspect in common, such as, subject matter, material, time period, culture, or theme. Prior to your visit, you can search the collection online to find a work or works you might want to observe more closely.

This proposal should include a brief description of the two objects and a thesis statement describing your approach and addressing at least 3 specific aspects you will use to compare the works.

With the piece from the museum as your main focus, your assignment is to clearly describe and analyze what makes the work distinct and why the differences are significant. Look closely at how your piece stands out when compared to the one in the course materials. How does the comparison make specific aspects more pronounced? You should focus not just on what is represented but how and with what results. Aim for an analysis that is detailed and nuanced enough to help a viewer see what you see by putting the two works side by side. Your thesis statement should indicate your claim about these differences and their significance.

Because this is an exercise in looking. You are not required to do additional research. Look closely, analyze carefully, and write descriptively. Further reading, particularly background information on the pieces and related forms, is certainly encouraged, but should not take away from developing and articulating your own observations. Please be sure to use and cite reliable scholarly sources, not popular websites, as needed.

Academic Integrity: You are required to do your own work. Any ideas, thoughts or words, which you have gathered from other sources, whether quoted, summarized or paraphrased, must be properly cited. Any ideas, thoughts, or words from published works or the work of your classmate, which you have used as your own, is considered plagiarism or cheating. If you feel uncertain about meeting the requirements for this paper, please reach out for consultation.

Cheating and plagiarizing violates the ethics of SMC and the larger academic community. Please be careful that you do not engage in any behavior that could be construed as cheating or plagiarism. For tips on avoiding plagiarism and for advice on properly citing sources, please see:

If you engage in these practices in this class, you will receive no credit for the assignment and your behavior will be reported to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs.

Citing References

Please use either footnotes or endnotes for your essay. At the end of your paper, include a bibliography. Please refer to the Chicago Manual of Style (

Endnote or footnote for book and section of a book, respectively:

Diana L. Eck, Darsan: Seeing the Divine image in India, 3rd edition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), p. 5. 
34. Zwalf, “The Buddha Legend,” in Buddhism: Art and Faith (London, 1985), 32-34.

Bibliography for a book and section of a book:

Eck, Diana L. Darsan: Seeing the Divine image in India, 3rd edition. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.

Zwalf, W. “The Buddha Legend.” In Buddhism: Art and Faith. London, 1985.


The paper should be 5-7 pages, typed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins, using 12-point font. Please number your pages and indent your paragraphs using the ‘Tab’ function

*When providing the title of work of art, always italicize or underline the title. The same rule applies to the titles of books. Titles of journal or newspaper articles, however, should be presented within quotation marks. For example: Andy Warhol’s Sixteen Jackies is not discussed in H.W. Janson’s History of Art, but it assumes importance in Hal Foster’s “Death in America.”[1] Note, too, that punctuation should be included inside the quotation marks.

Important notes about the assignment:

This paper accounts for 20% of your final grade.
Grading criteria will include: clarity of thesis statement, sufficient support for thesis, 
analysis of the materials, word choice, organization, and flow of writing.
Please don’t forget to include a title for your paper.
The 5-7 page paper (typed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins, using 12-point font) 
will be due to Turnitin by 11:59 p.m, May, 18.
A proposal for your paper will be due on Thursday, May 7. This 1-to 2-page proposal should include a brief description of the two objects and a thesis statement addressing at least 3 specific aspects you will use to compare the pieces.
Because of their unreliability, Internet sources, except for museum sites, Oxford Art Online, or Jstor, will NOT be permitted.;type=804

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