Investigate artworks using a critical process
Comparison and contrast of two pieces of art using description, analysis, interpretation, and judgment
Describe how works are similar and different
Use the comparison of works to illustrate meanings and issues presented by the works
Use Comparison and Contrast descriptions to show how ideas and conventions change over time
Use comparison and contrast to discover and describe how changes occur between one group of artists to the next
Use comparison and contrast to define and identify how different groups deal with subjects and ideas in different ways
Change is inherent in the history of art. Use comparison and contrast to describe and illustrate how conventions and ideas change.
Use comparison and contrast to present how and why ideas are different between artworks, artists, and periods or styles.
Compare and contrast analysis illustrates how artworks, artists, and periods demonstrate change over time and exert influence.
Comparison and contrast helps to discriminate between the differences between works and helps us describe how artworks, artists, and periods or styles change and respond to issues and ideas inherent in their culture or time.
Finally comparison and contrast helps us interpret works and find relevance, new meanings, and new contexts for artworks that we may not have been aware of before

The same grade rubric from the last assignment is used to evaluate this activity.
650 word length, approx. 1 – 2 pages; Required File Type/Document: Microsoft Word

Writing the Essay
The comparative analysis (Compare & Contrast) starts with a formal analysis of two or more individual pieces, and then adds another level of discussion that evaluates relevant similarities and differences between the pieces. This added level is useful in revealing details about trends within historical periods, regional similarities, or growth of an individual artist over time.

In describing the individual pieces, keep to the same conventions used when doing an individual formal analysis.

After the describing the work, develop a thesis about the two works and develop an essay. Present your general concept or thesis statement about the two works in the introduction. In the body use evidence to support your thesis, and in the conclusion synthesize your statements into a final relevant conclusion that leaves the reader with a final idea about what they should remember, know, and take away from your overall statement. Your conclusion can be a judgment or interpretation of the change and messages in the works and what is relevant about these issues. Do research on the pieces that you are analyzing and develop citations. Use evidence based statements from research and descriptions of the works to support your statements. Use Chicago or Turabian Style citations.

Comparison and Contrast Description Strategies
We covered the description of a single work in the last essay activity. This time we will work on describing two works.

Describe the two artworks in detail so that the reader can visualize them without seeing them. Explain how technique and compositional features of each artwork creates similar and contrasting messages. Support your analysis and thesis by referring to specific details from each painting. You will likely develop your thesis after the process of description, so the better the description, the better the essay.


Discuss all details of one work and then all details of the second work.

Remember to compare the two works by referring back to the first work when discussing the second. This will ensure that you don’t simply write two descriptions.


Discussing a particular point in both works before moving on to another point

Preferred in comparisons dealing with fine details

Discuss each point evenly to maintain a clear, parallel structure.

Venn Diagram

a diagram of two circles overlapping; each circle represents a thing to be compared. Where the circles overlap we place the things in common. In the areas outside the overlap, we place the differences.

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