Hanging form and context: The Reception of a Work of Art

In this paper, you will analyze whether you find that the current condition and display of art at the Seattle Art Museum are similar to and/or different from the objects original historical context.

Analyze the Posthumous Portrait of the Emperor Claudius, 54-68CE at the Seattle Art Museum.
1) Analysis of damaged form and your reception/reaction. First, give a detailed description of the Posthumous Portrait of the Emperor Claudius, 54-68CE, including a detailed description of how the work of art is damaged. Then, examine how the damage affects you as a viewer. As you examine this damaged art, ponder some of the following questions:
i??How is your reception (or attention) to this work of art affected by its damage?
i??Do you pay more attention (or less attention) to the object because of its damaged areas? Why? (Describe the areas that attract your attention the most.)
i??Does your eye try to compensate for the damage and i??fill in the blanksi?? for the missing areas? Why do you think this is (or isni??t) the case?

2) Analysis of museum space and object. Use the discussion of your reception of the work of art to segue into the second portion of the essay: analysis of your reception of the work of art due to context. Consider the context of the work of art (i.e. surrounding space and display of the museum). How does the display affect your understanding and reception to the work of art? As you consider the museum space, think about some of these questions:
i??How is the object displayed? Is it at eye level? Is it behind a glass case?
i??What are the colors of the surrounding display (i.e. walls, pedestals, case, etc.)?
i??What details or formal elements do I notice the most about the piece itself, based on the way it is displayed?
i??Does the museum display highlight or attempt to mask the damage of the piece?
i??Do you need to stoop or raise your head high to closely examine the work of art? (If you didni??t do those things, would the damage be less noticeable?)

3) Comparison of museum space and original (historical) context. Conclude your essay by analyzing how the current state and display of the museum object are similar and/or different from the objecti??s original condition and historical context. Although you doni??t need to research the exact historical background of your specific piece, place the work of art within its cultural time and discuss at least one specific work of art from our textbook that has cultural and stylistic similarities with your chosen work of art. For example, discuss how similar statues, portraits, or vases originally functioned. Whenever possible, discuss stylistic similarities between the museum piece and a work of art in the textbook. The text labels at the museum, lecture notes, as well as your Stokstad Art History textbook will be helpful for you when writing this section. You may want to consider these questions:
i??Where were such objects located in their respective cultures and time periods? Could they have been seen from a different angle than that presented in the museum?
i??What types of people would have originally seen or used this object?
i??How was this object (or similar objects) used at the time?
i??Was this object originally decorated or painted?
i??What type of lighting would have originally existed for this work? In other words, would this work have been seen outdoors (in bright sunshine), or in an indoor space with possibly less light?