Do this exercise a week or so before your exam, using material already covered in class so that it is related to the material on which you will be tested for that exam.
First, read some blogs about art history. Check out Masterpiece Cards website where there are many images of interest to art historians. Under the “Blog” tab, you'll find the “Famous Painters Blogroll” that lists many excellent blogs there.
Now, choose a few pieces of art that you like or are curious about – maybe you like the colors or the theme of the piece. Once you have selected several works of art, think about which two have similarities: is it the subject matter? the colors? the size? texture? Are they both sculptures,or both landscape paintings, for example? Perhaps they both manage to evoke a particular feeling in you. It’s important that you choose two that you are interested in personally for some reason. They should “speak” to you – not just emotionally, but intellectually as well.
Here’s an example of a compare-and-contrast essay <http://academichelp.net/samples/essay/compare-contrast/two-art-periods-major-works.html> using two works from the Renaissance and Neoclassicism eras: Michelangelo’s David and Antonio Canova’s Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss. Notice that these two pieces were chosen because they both are considered by scholars to be representative of their time periods and that both of the artists used unconventional ideas in their depiction of the current political and social conditions of the day. It’s important that you choose two pieces that allow you to make appropriate comparisons relating to the concepts you are learning in your art history class. This is an important first step as you prepare to write an effective essay that covers multiple main issues covered in class.
Now that you’ve chosen your two art pieces, be sure and write down the most important ways by which you want to identify them. You can use a local library and online museums (check out, for example, the ArtCylopedia's Art Museums Worldwide website) to get this information:
Artist’s full name
Title of the art piece
Year of production, country/location/culture
Size of the art piece
Materials/medium used to create it
Formal elements such as line, color, composition
Art style or school the piece comes from (with some basic descriptors of the hallmarks of that art style in general)
Subject matter of the piece