AP Museum Assignment: The Impact of Presentation, Scale, and Text

Quite a bit of how we feel about a work is determined by how we encounter it for the first time.  Artwork seen in person is nothing like artwork seen in a book or on a screen.

Another important element of how we react to an art work is placement and scale.  The size of the work, how it is lit, and where on a wall it is placed can do a lot to obscure or elevate a work of art; to draw our attention to it.  We tend to favor work that catches our eye.

One more thing which can impact our opinion of a work is the plaque next to the work.  Increasingly within museums we are seeing plaques next to artwork with a descriptive narrative.  This narrative might give insight into the work’s meaning, biographical information, or anything else the curators felt should be shared about the work.

What I want you to do is choose three works (total) from either of the museums.  Select works that “floor” you.  Select artworks which have a strong or dramatic impact upon you, the viewer.  I want you to discuss how the work is displayed, and the impact of the narrative next to it on your opinion.

Begin by just looking at the art work in terms of the work itself, and then how it is displayed.  Only after you think you understand the artwork should you read the narrative.  Figure out if the narrative in any way changes your opinion.

You should write roughly a paragraph each for each work (3 total).  That paragraph should include:

  • Title, artist’s name, and size
  • Brief description of its appearance
  • Description of your impression or feelings about the work
  • Description of how it is displayed (wall space, light, etc.)
  • Brief summary of any narrative accompanying the work
  • Explain what impact the narrative had on your perception of the work

This brief writing assignment will be due by 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday, 1/21.  This is a Formative grade.  Submit your assignment by email:  james.elam@killeenisd.org.

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