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Formal Analysis of the artwork by, Ed Paschke, Nervosa, 1980

Formal Analysis of the artwork by, Nervosa, 1980



  • Papers should conform to MLA format. Sources should include only the artwork itself with the possible addition of information from the object label in the museum and/or your textbook. These sources should be documented with in-text citations and a separate works cited page at the end.



You will write a 2 ½ to 3-page Formal Analysis of the artwork by, Nervosa, 1980













In this paper, you will explain what you believe is the meaning or idea that the artwork expresses AND how the elements and principles that you identify in the work help convey that idea or message.


You need to identify at least five elements or principles (listed below) of art that you can see in the work you chose. You must also include a thesis statement that states 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?


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.


Elements and Principles to choose from for inclusion in paper:
















Harmony or Unity







In the first paragraph, called the introduction, you will include:

  • the name of the artist (if known), title (which is italicized every time you use the title in your 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 of your first paragraph.


From that point, the rest of the formal analysis should include not only a description of the piece, but those details of the work that have led you to come to your thesis. 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 and at least a sentence to try to make me (your reader) care about the point you are making.


It is important to remember that your interest here is strictly formal; NO ADDITIONAL RESEARCH IS TO BE USED IN THIS PAPER. In other words, you are strictly relying on what you can see in a work of art and make interpretations about it based on your analysis of it. As noted above, you will need to supply in-text citations to credit the work itself as well as the museum label and textbook (if you quote from either of those sources). You will also need to provide a works cited page at the end of your paper to credit all the sources that you used in preparation for the paper (the works cited page does not count as part of the length of the paper).


The very first page should have a digital image of the work of art that you analyze. This image page does not count as part of the length of the paper. Provide the image with a caption underneath, with the artist’s name, title of the work (in italics), date, medium, and the name of the museum where the artwork is held.



Format for the Paper:

Approximately two and a half to three pages (not including the separate works cited page), black ink, double spaced, 12 point type (Times), 1” borders.








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