One thing you’re going to do is write and submit a COMPARATIVE STUDY. It counts for 20% of the final mark so does not contribute massively to a final grade, but it’s still worth taking seriously – 20% is still 20%.
The examiner will be looking for analysis of formal qualities, interpretation of function and purpose, evaluation of cultural significance, making comparisons and connections and presentation and subject-specific language. And if you are Higher Level, he/she will also be looking to see how effectively you made connections to your own art-making practice.
But before you even think about all that, you need to decide what you will compare: you need to select at least 3 artworks (or objects/artefacts) from different cultures.
Two can be the work of one artist so it could be the 3 artworks by two artists, but either way they have to be from “differing cultural contexts”*.
The options are huge, to put it mildly. Even if exclude drawings on the walls of caves and just go for, say, the last 2,000 years, you will still have many thousands of possible artworks to choose from. Ideally you will be able to see the work up close and personal in a gallery and not be dependent on the Internet or books.
If you are lucky enough to live near or in a major city then I strongly suggest you visit the main art gallery and/or museum and choose at least one of your three artworks/objects from their collection.
The images shown here date from Italy around 1370, more than 600 years ago: the instructions to choose art/objects from “differing cultural contexts” means that you can really explore differences in location, time, scale, role. purpose, impact, etc.
But maybe you have a personal preference for a specific type of art and want to analyse and discuss? This is fine providing your preference is broad enough to include a range of cultural contexts
For Higher Level students the single criterion that offers the most marks relates to making connections to their own art-making practice. Specifically, the question is “to what extent does the work analyse and reflect on the outcomes of the comparative study investigation, and how this has influenced the student’s own development as an artist, identifying connections between one or more of the selected works and the student’s own art-making processes and practices?”
Personally, I think emphasis on doing something creative with what you have learned is a great addition to the component, and in practical terms makes the analysis, interpretation, evaluation and comparison even more useful and meaningful.
* “SL students submit 10–15 screens which examine and compare at least three artworks, objects or artefacts, at least two of which need to be by different artists. The works selected for comparison and analysis should come from differing cultural contexts.
HL students submit 10–15 screens which examine and compare at least three artworks, objects or artefacts, at least two of which need to be by different artists. The works selected for comparison and analysis should come from differing cultural contexts.
HL students submit 3–5 screens which analyse the extent to which their work and practices have been influenced by the art and artists examined”.
(Guide page 39)
The photographs are taken by me and show elements of the main tier of the high altarpiece of San Pier Maggiore in Florence (1370-71), now in the National Gallery, London.
The work is attributed to Jacopo di Cione.