Project description
Choose one of the four prompts below and research your subject carefully and thoroughly. Using significant examples that you fully explore, develop an answer that is as thorough as well articulated as you can make it.

Please proofread your work, and if necessary, read it aloud to yourself. Careless mistakes will lose your reader.

Papers should be 12 pages in length. As this is a research paper, you should refer to several sources (scholarly articles, books, and essays), in addition to those assigned in class. Online references (such as museum websites) do not count as academic sources but can be used in addition to your actual library research. [Exception: published articles that have been made available online through sites like JTOR are the same as any other published scholarly source.] As books will be in demand, you are free to consult a mix of books and articles.

Note: You should cite your sources both in the form of footnotes and a Works Cited/Bibliography page.
For additional tips and guidelines, please refer to the Writing Paper Guidelines handout.


1) Marcel Duchamp was the first figure of 20th century modernity to shift the entire basis of the work of art towards the conceptual and away from the traditional focus on medium and composition. A constant provocateur, he attacked convention at every turn, including the convention of authorship and even art itself. Choosing 5 central works, discuss Duchamp’s systematic articulation of art’s mobile conceptual ground in an age of industrialization.

2) Over the course of his career, Constantin Brancusi returned again and again to certain themes and forms, including the head; the bird; the (often androgynous) human body; and modular, repetitive abstraction (as in hisEndless Column). Trace the development of one of these through carefully chosen examples. Be sure to contextualize your discussion within Brancusi’s larger aims and interests, considering his oscillation between nature and the industrial, as part of his unique path to abstraction and essence.

3) We have looked at three examples of avant-garde movements that aimed at the application of artistic practice to industrial production: Russian Constructivism/Productivism, the Dutch De Stijl movement, and the German Bauhaus. Choose at least two of these three and, citing specific examples of artists and works, discuss the ideals and realities that defined those quintessentially modernist projects.

4) Emerging from literature and painting movements, several of the key figures of Surrealism found that radical forms of photography had a unique access to the evocation of “automatism” and the role of the unconscious in the everyday, because, unlike illusionistic art, the photograph was an actual impression of the real, which by various (darkroom) processes, could be made surreal. Discuss.



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