Research Paper Assignment 

Due Date:  Monday, March 2

Length: 6-8 pages, typed, double-spaced


This paper is an exercise in research leading to a historical interpretation of a single work of art you can study IN THE ORIGINAL.  You may select any painting or sculpture, created between 1900 and 1945, on display in one of our local museums. There are many appropriate works for this assignment in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as well as the Norton Simon Museum.


Structure of the essay:

Your paper should begin with a precise identification of your work with specifics related to its physical medium, and scale.  If it is a sculpture, discuss its appearance from a variety of viewpoints. 

Who created your work?  Where is this work positioned within the overall career of the artist?  You do not need to provide a biography of the creator but keep this discussion focused on the period in which your work was created.

To what period or avant garde movement does this belong?

Identify what works are most closely associated with your work, by the same artist and/or other artists in the same movement.

Describe the key formal elements of your work and the reason for the selection of this style by your artist.


Discuss the iconography of your work.  What is the subject?  How would it have been understood by its contemporary audience? Who would have been the targeted audience?

Define as precisely as possible the historical conditions in which it was created.


What, if any, is the political significance of your work? How did this work enter the museum’s collection?  If possible trace the provenance of your piece.

Research Methodology: 

Locate at least 4 scholarly sources relevant to your object.  You must provide references in your essay for any information or direct quotes which come from outside sources.  Your citations can be in end notes or footnotes, and you need to provide the author’s last name and the page number where you found your information.

Also, supply a Bibliography at the end.  This is a list of works consulted, listed alphabetically by author’s last name.