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In any work of art, there are various elements used to assist in understanding the meaning or themes. The elements of art forms the visual components used to develop a more thoughtful understanding of the artistic composition. Understanding the elements of art enables viewers to describe an artists’ work, and communicate the thoughts and findings using a common language. Thus, in any analysis of an artwork, design elements form the basic vocabulary of visual design. Thus, the elements of an art form the basic, visual material with which artists create their pieces of artwork. Formal analysis is an important technique for organizing any visual information. This strategy is applied to any artwork, at any period of history to assist in the translation of what is seen to words of mouth. Visual analysis can be applied to artwork, such as, photographs, cultural artifacts, paintings, and sculptor. This report provides analysis of photographs observed in Tampa Museum.

Tampa museum houses the finest selection of Greek and Roman antiquities in the southeastern part of the U.S.A. In the museum, there are collections of artwork, including material culture of the Mediterranean region gathered from the Bronze Age to the Romanian Imperial Period. In the museum, there are various artifacts, sculptors, and a collection of photographs, which represents a variety of photographic techniques and formats. The main area of interest was photographs taken in the 19th century, which are mainly expeditionary images that are related to Greece and Rome, also included are photography taken after the 1970’s.

The most appealing artwork that attracted my attention included a photograph of a child playing baseball alone beneath the elevated, Chicago, Illinois, USA, 1947, Fire in Hoboken, facing Manhattan, New York City, USA, 1947, and a transit camp showing a young Belgian woman, identified as she tried to hide in the crowd. In this report, by considering the formal elements and principles of design, it is possible to understand how the photographs analyzed reflect the time and place from where they originated.

Visual analysis of photographs identified at the museum

The pieces of artwork found in a museum pries into an individual’s emotional being and bring out the sentiments and feelings. It pries into the emotional being and draws out the sentiments and feelings of the viewer. The first artistic work analyzed during the museum visit is the photograph of a young Belgian woman who was identified as a Gestapo informer. The photograph portrayed the woman as she attempted to hide in the crowd. The photograph is the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson. The photograph follows a story of an American controlled transit camp for refugees. These were former prisoners of war and other internally displaced persons in Dessau, Germany.  Cartier- Bresson with his Leica, from a slightly lower viewpoint, which captured the still images, shot the photograph on April 1945. In the photograph, there is an of a woman accusing the Gestapo informer; she is dressed in black, and gaunt. There is also an image of a serious looking man, seated at a desk and seems as a man with authority. Thus, the photograph has captured the element of color.

Color has three main characteristics, hue, value and intensity. In addition, color can be described as warm or cool. In this photograph, color is different moods. For instance, dark color is used to convey a sense of mystery or foreboding. The dull colors in the photograph capture the seriousness of the scene. Other elements include texture, form, shapes which have been combined harmoniously.

The other element depicted in the photograph is space. Despite the fact that real space is three-dimensional. The use of space in this photograph describes how the artist uses the area within the picture plane.  In this photograph, the two women and the man sitting on the desk occupy the positive space. In the photograph, the informer stood with shame while the woman accusing her is angered and rages with a desire to revenge. Thus, the contrasting expression symbolizes the feelings of people who are at different ends, of winning or losing and a devastating war. It also indicates the triumph of anger of the people who are finally liberated from the tyranny of the Nazi control and the humiliation that followed the defeat of the Germans. Thus, contrast is also another element applied in this photograph and holds the viewers attention. Contrast is an element that can easily be manipulated. Proper use of contrast makes a photograph to be good or outstanding. High contrast in the photograph refers to the white areas that appear brighter, and the black areas that are extremely dark. This photograph is beautiful because of the excellent use of contrast. Thus, contrast is an important art element used to control the focal point of the images.

The accused woman was a Belgian and a Gestapo informer who was recognized before she could hide in the crowd. The man in the photograph was identified as Wilhelm Heinrich van der Velden, a Dutchman, appointed at the camp as a commandant at Dessau by the American Military. This photograph provides a fascinating glimpse at the events taking place at the background of the photograph. The photograph describes how prisoners and refugees were watching the informer’s denunciation as she was being escorted to a desk where she was berated by the accuser.

In the museum, the other photograph that attracted my attention was a photograph of a child playing baseball alone beneath the elevated. The photograph was taken in Chicago, Illinois, USA, 1947. The subject matter of the photograph is about a child left alone, most probably handicapped. The balance of the photograph is symmetrical. The focal point in the image in this photograph is the background of the photograph. The main element used in this photograph is light.  In this photograph, light enhances value. Value is created by light and it illuminates the actual color of the image. In the picture, value makes the image appear three dimensional with shadows and highlights. In the landscape, value recedes to the background giving the picture the illusion of depth.

Another element used in this photograph is line. Line creates movement and guides the eye around the visual images. The artist has used line on the elevator, which pulled my eyes into the photograph.  Line demonstrates the horizon, or length of the elevator. The lines are used to bring an atmosphere or feeling. Different lines have different impacts in this photograph. For instance, lines play important roles in the composition. In addition, lines have been used to create depth and perspective. Lines have been used to convey distance. The photograph shows lines that create shapes that are more complex and lead my eye from one area in composition to another. In this photograph, movement of the eye is guided by the lines, and contrasting shapes. The other element in this photograph is light. Light adds value to photograph and is used together with color to help in contrasting the extreme changes between the values. The photograph also has spaces between objects and this greatly affected the way the objects are viewed. In addition, the photograph also has forms, which are three-dimensional shapes, having length width and breath.

The other art observed in the museum was a photograph of fire in Hoboken, facing Manhattan. This is another work of Cartier-Bresson. He shot this photograph in 1947, in New York City, USA. In this photograph, value is an element that shows the extent of darkness or brightness of the photograph. The other element in the photograph is contrast. Contrast is an element that holds the viewers attention, guides the viewer’s attention, and provides guidance to the viewers’ eye through the piece of art. The other element used is color. In this photograph, the black and white color brings about a wide range of tonal graduations. Tone is evident in the color of clouds and smoke, and the color of burnt substances, which appears black. Thus, the tone assists in providing a three dimensional image. Emphasis is another element evident in the photograph. This is demonstrated by nature in which texture and shape are used to direct the observers view towards a particular part of the image.

In conclusion, by understanding the elements of art, viewers can better examine the composition of any artwork. All formal analysis identifies specific visual elements and describes how they work together. Thus, formal analysis is very beneficial in interpreting a photograph. This enables an art to be easy to identify. Therefore, when visual elements are properly analyzed and compared, it is possible to identify which element plays a significant role in depicting the subject being analyzed. This is important because it substantiates how photographs are interpreted by having concrete observations from the provided descriptions and analysis of one’s knowledge and the context and purpose of the photograph.

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