Art Appreciation and Techniques/Activities plan

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You may wish to complete all of the activities in this course independently. However, if you wish to collaborate with others who are also taking this course, go to ART 100 at Open Study (link to space that gets set up for course) or use a space of your own choice to do so. You are encourage to form a learning community to share your thoughts and expertise, ask and answer questions, and dialogue and debate on important ideas in the course.)

Module 1 Activities: Introduction and Definitions

(put each activity right where that content is covered in course…all activities shouldn’t go in one place but should be spread throughout course where it makes sense]

Experience with Art

What has been your exposure to visual art? Do you make art? If so, what kind? What is the medium you use? What kind of style is it? (Look under "style" in Module 1 to get a better idea of what it might be.) Who is your usual target audience? If you haven’t made any art, have you ever wanted to? What kind?

Definition of Art

Do you agree with the definition of ‘art’ as it’s explained in Module 1? Why or why not? Can you add to the definition? Is your definition coming from a subjective or objective perspective? Explain

Mediums of Art

Using the External Links, [link M3] or any art resource of your choice, find a work of art from any culture or time period to answer the following questions:• What is the source of your chosen work of art?• What is the title, date and artist’s name? • What medium is used (painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, photograph or digital image, video, installation or performance)? Give a short description of your chosen work of art?• Is it realistic, abstract or non-objective? • What does it depict? What colors are used? • What category does it fall under?

Roles of Art

Review the different roles of art discussed in Module 1. What artistic role does your chosen work of art play? Does it take on more than one role?

Module 2: The Artistic Process and Training

The Artistic Process

Who makes art? Comment on the possible source of an artist’s artistic skills? How do the roles of artists change with different cultural considerations? List some of the concerns various artists may have while creating art. Support your answers with examples, and provide any links or images that help in your explanations. You may wish to use the External Links, [link M2] or resources of your own choice, to help you in your image search.

 A Look at Artists

View at least five short videos from the art21 web site. You can search for artists using the tab at the top of the page. Pay attention to how the artists work and what they say about their process of creating art. List the artists you viewed, and say who surprised you the most and why. Place one artist in each of the following categories: • Artist most concerned with the process of making the work. • Artist most concerned with creativity in the idea for their art or the work itself. • Artist most concerned with materials.

Art as a Social Activity and a Creative Act

Compare and contrast art created as a social activity with art as a singular creative act. • What are the differences? • Why is each type of art important? • How might their functions ever overlap? You may use the following resources, or any of your choice, for this activity: • The Quilts of Gees Bend • Michael Hayden’s light and sound sculpture = HA07 The Sky's The Limit (see video of work) • NAMES Project AIDS Memorial QuiltThe Day of The Dead • Still life painting: Adriaen Coorte’s Wild Strawberries in a Wan Li Bowl • Large-scale sculpture: Richard Serra’s Forty Years • Photography: André Kertész’ Seven Decades Be sure to cite any sources you use, and include links to any images you refer to.

Module 3: Artistic Elements

[The first paragraph should go in content of module just before the Formalist Method activity]The Formalist Method describes what a person sees in a piece of art in a totally objective way and helps one to look at art in a new way. It does not require reference to any subject matter when discussing a work of art. Instead, one is required to be objective in descriptions and there is no subjective reaction to the artwork involved. It’s important to understand the Formalist Method of looking at artwork because it allows one to understand Style, the aesthetic values or physical techniques used in making art, and Form, the way a work of art looks. The Formalist Method is used to look at a piece of art that one may know nothing about to form an appreciation of it before one understands the symbols and meaning behind the work.

The Formalist Method

With reference to the elements of art (line, shape, volume, space, value, color and texture), write a Formalist description of one of the works of art from the External Links, [link to M3 links]or a source of your own choice. Referring to a chosen image, write a short descriptive sentence for each of the elements. Examples: “The work uses a majority of organic shapes” and “It uses the complimentary colors yellow and violet for contrast”. You could use a 1-5 scale to rate the importance of a particular element for the work of art you chose. If you do not see an element represented in your chosen work of art, say "none present". Remember to be objective in your description and do not refer to the subject matter, your perceived meaning of the work, the artist or anything that is not visible in the image itself. Note: Although the Formalist Method can be used to look at artistic principles too, you are not required to do so for this activity.

Objective Description and Subjective Analysis of Artistic Elements

Using the External Links you have been previously given, or any of your choice, find a two-dimensional and a three-dimensional piece of art. For each one, use the Formalist Method to write four sentences describing the elements present in the work. For each work, also write one sentence that describes your subjective reaction to it. Examples: “The artwork has a chaotic feeling to it” and “Looking at the work made me feel lonely”.

Module 4: Artistic Principles

Objective Description and Subjective Analysis of Artistic Principles

Using any of the External Links, [link M4] or any of your own choice, find a two-dimensional and a three-dimensional piece of art. For each one, write four sentences describing the artistic principles present in the work. Do not refer to any subject matter and be objective in your descriptions. Example: “The work makes an abundant use of pattern,” or “This work uses asymmetric balance in its composition”. For each work, also write one sentence that describes your subjective reaction to it. An example might be “The artwork has a dynamic feel to it” or “The scale in this work disorients me”.

Objective Description and Subjective Analysis

Using the links provided, or any of your choice, objectively describe the two compositions and your subjective reaction to each of them. • What kind of visual balance is used in each? • How does the balance affect the composition? • Explain how effective each work is in terms of unity and variety. Example: “There is variety in the colors used, but they are mostly analogous to each other, and that creates a unity in the overall effect”. Be specific and include any links or images that help support your answers. Your final work on this activity should be at least two pages, double-spaced. Image 1: John Singleton Copley’s Watson and the Shark Image 2: Judy Pfaff’s Untitled.

Module 5: Meaning

Form and Content

View and describe Winslow Homer’s painting The Fog Warning from 1885. Try to interpret the meaning inherent in the work from the visual and contextual clues you see. Then view the same Homer painting at another web site. Here you can compare your interpretation of the work to the curator’s text about it. Share your views and ideas about the meaning of each work of art so others can respond to your opinions.

Style, Form and Context

Style really matters because each style in art is linked to different philosophical ideas about the world, humanity, the artist, and the meaning of imagery. Use the following links, or any of your choice, to see a wide range of art from many cultures: Timeline of Art History Styles and Movements in Art HistoryFind works that seem to exhibit the following ideas: 1. A work of art that is a representation of a human but not a specific or recognizable person. 2. A work of art that is about a specific time or place. 3. A work of art that is an image of a god, ruler or king or queen. 4. A work of art that is about an artist and his/her view of the world. 5. A work of art that is not a picture of things in the world. For each of the ideas, include the link to the image that you have chosen and state why you think that work shows the specific idea.

Module 6: Two-dimensional Media

Technical and Aesthetic Issues

View the video of artist Robert Rauschenberg discussing his work, Erased de Kooning Drawing. Write down your thoughts about how it reflects on the technical issues of drawing and the larger aesthetic issues of appropriation and destruction as part of a creative process.

Module 7: The Camera Arts


Visual information is the key to making social networking so popular. From digital cameras to Blackberries and iPhones, taking photographs has become an everyday experience for most of us. Respond to the following questions: • How often do you take photographs? • What device do you usually use to take them? • How much attention do you devote to composition, lighting or arrangement in your photographs? • What do you do with your photographs? • How do you think you can improve your photographs?


The film industry is a major part of many economies and, like other artistic mediums, it reflects and anticipates the culture surrounding it. Now, independent films (those made outside of well-established studios) are having a larger effect on audiences because they can examine themes and ideas beyond what the big studios decide to finance. Respond to the following questions: • How often do you see films? • Do you view films in a theatre or on other digital media? • What genre/kind of films do you like? • Comment on the role of films to entertain and inform. • What is your favorite film of all time? Why?

 Module 8: Three-dimensional Media

Installation and Performance Art

Since the 1960s, installation and performance art have taken their place alongside traditional sculpture. In some ways, installation and performance art have eclipsed traditional sculpture as the most significant contemporary three-dimensional art form. View the installation, Cold Dark Matter, by Cornelia Parker and read an interview with the artist. View and read about Ann Hamilton’s installation, Corpus. View and read about Marina Abramovic’s retrospective performance, The Artist is Present (the MoMA website provides access to images and a video about the works). Write your objective and subjective responses to the works, keeping in mind the context of the medium itself. How does performance and installation art expand our experience about what art is? Whether you like or dislike the works here, write about what makes these art forms unique.

Module 9: Architecture

Personal Response to Buildings

You are required to make a personal response to a few buildings. For each building: 1. Briefly describe (three or four sentences) the building as you see it, using the language of the elements of art.2. Describe how you think this building affects people on the outside or inside of it, and why. 3. How creative do you think designers of buildings should get? 4. How much impact do you think these buildings have had on the skyline where they are located? 5. How much impact do you think these buildings have had on the debate on modern architectural design? Here are the buildings:• Seattle Public LibraryJean Marie Tjibaou Cultural CenterThe Experience Music Project (EMP) BuildingThe New World Trade Center (the replacement building for the destroyed World Trade Center in New York City) • A building of your choice from Great Buildings Online or another source.

Urban Design

The biggest human impact on the environment is in the development of our urban landscapes. Buildings and transportation routes are the most prominent (Marshall McLuhan declared “the road is our major architectural form”). Buildings serve different roles in our lives; shelter, education, work, entertainment and travel all use different building designs. Consider the following:· What is a ‘good’ urban design? · What is a ‘bad’ one? · Do you prefer hard-edged designs or others that use more organic components? Explain your choice. · What about the use of ‘green’ technologies? How do they enter into your ideas of good urban design? As a resource, you can view Identity, architect Maya Lin’s discussion of transforming a park in Michigan.

Green Architecture

Using the External Links, [link M9] and any other sources you find appropriate, research and describe three examples of sustainable technologies and ‘green’ architecture. These could include anything from energy production sources to architectural design and engineering or urban planning models. For each of your three examples, consider the following:· What are your personal reactions to it? · What is the context surrounding it? For example, how will it be used? What are the costs involved? Will it replace or interact with existing designs? · Comment on each of your examples as an alternative to traditional design. Include images or links for each of your examples, and be sure to cite all your research sources used for this activity.

Module 10: Visual Art and Our World

Nature and Technology

Look at Chris Jordan’s digital images. Referring to images from his various themes such as Midway, Running the Numbers, Intolerable Beauty and In Katrina’s Wake, describe how you think his work reflects the ideas about nature, knowledge and technology. In addition, make a comment about the aesthetic nature of his work. Can we find a sense of beauty in the corrupt or sordid parts of consumer societies? What about a sense of beauty in destruction and over-consumption? Be specific in your answers. Give additional examples or references if you want.

Form and Content within Themes

The theme of ‘Mother and Child’ is common to most world cultures, but the form and content within the theme changes. View the two examples from this theme:· Mother and Child sculpture from the Bamana culture of Africa · Mary Cassatt’s Maternal Caress from the western European cultureCompare and contrast them in terms of their forms and the content they reflect. Read the descriptions about each of the works to help you determine any difference, but use your own words to describe the works. Be specific in your answers. Your descriptions should include: · Subject matter: What does the work represent? · Formal qualities of each work and their visual effects on the viewer · Areas of focus: What’s included and what isn’t? · Issues of content: What meaning do you get out of each work? Is it different for both or the same? Why? Why not? · In what context is each work seen? Does that make a difference in the content? Find a third image from this theme on your own and include it in your discussion. Make sure your choice represents a different culture than the first two (African and western European). Be sure to include a link to your choice and use proper citation for any source material you refer to.

Module 11: Visual Art and Other Worlds

Art and Spirituality

Using the External Links, [link M11] or any of your choice, find a work of art from a culture other than your own that represents a form of spirituality. You will need to understand the context in which the artwork was made and how it is used within the culture. Explain why you chose the work you did, and how it represents the spirit.

Costumes and Decorations

Examine the following two images:Sitting Man with a Pink Face New Guinea by Irving Penn Eddie Pratt as Cupid from Land of the Free by photographer David Graham. Write a one page summary of comparisons and contrasts between the two images. Look for comparisons between form and content. Refer to any cultural or stylistic differences you find. In essence, how are they the same? How are they different? What is the subject in each image? Comment on whether each image represents something within the context of spirituality. Here are three helpful links for this activity, two about tribal New Guinea, and one about photographer David Graham:Papua New Guinea (make sure you scroll down to the Religion section)Oceania David Graham

Assignments Plan

(CG4…end of Introductions and Definitions…M1 pdf)                                                        === Assignment 1 Part A: Style, Form and Content==      


Artistic styles change over time and throughout cultures, yet some forms continue to be repeated despite the changes. Examining these forms helps in finding the meaning of various works of art


  1. View the following three works of art from different time periods and cultures and notice how each one has a repeated formal element similar to the others: Totem Pole Giotto Crucifix Minoan Snake Goddess
  2. Write at least one paragraph to explain each work of art. Your document should be at least one page, double-spaced. The following questions can serve as a guide:What style and category does each work belong to? What are the similarities you observe among all three works of art?Do these similarities have ties to a common meaning between all of them, or do you think the meaning for each work is separate from the others? Why or why not? What cultural, religious or other considerations do you take into account in defining your answers?

(CG 2…end of Artistic Principles…M4 pdf)

Assignment 1 Part B: Artistic Elements and Principles 

Using the External Links, [M4]or a resource of your choice, choose two works of art from two different cultures. They can be two or three-dimensional, or one of each. Compare and contrast the two works, using the artistic elements artistic elements (line, shape, volume, space, value, color and texture) and principles (repetition, rhythm, scale, differences in visual balance, etc.) you’ve learned about in this module. For example: What are the artistic elements and principles being used in each? You can refer to the subject matter in each work, but focus mainly on objective comparisons. How do the compositions compare to each other? How are they similar? How are they different?

(CG5… … end of Meaning… M5 pdf)

Assignment 1 Part C: Critical Perspectives

Using the External Links, [M5] or any resource of your choice, select a work of art and interpret its meaning in the context of one of the critical perspectives listed below:

  1. Structural 2: Feminist 3: Ideological 4: Deconstructive 5: Formalist 6: Psychoanalytic 7: Feminist 8: Formalist 9: Structural;First, review the major ideas behind your chosen critical perspective. Next, search for an image that you think fits the critical test (remember to give URL of link to image). Try to uncover the meaning in the image you choose, and explain how your particular critical perspective supports your interpretation. ;;=== [CG7, end of Two dimensional art …M6 pdf]

Assignment 2 Part A: The Medium is the Message

Marshall McLuhan’s quote that “the medium is the message” helps us understand the frontiers and limits of the tools we use. Artistic mediums are not only extensions of our creativity but avenues that help define changes in scale. For example, the introduction of painting greatly increased the possibilities of the type of artwork that could be created. ;Using the External Links, [M6] or any resource of your choice, find one example of each two-dimensional medium (drawing, painting, printmaking and collage). Write a short summary of how the nature of each medium dictates the expression of the artist using it. In other words, what makes each medium unique, and how does it limit or expand what the artist is able to do with it?

[CG3, end of Camera Arts… M7 pdf]

== Assignment 2, Part B: Meanings of Photos  == 

Photographs (or digital images) freeze a moment in time, encapsulating an idea and the narrative surrounding it. View the following three photos (or three interesting ones of your own choice): Brassai’s Prostitute from “Paris at Night” William Eggleston’s Miami Annie Leibovitz’s Meryl Streep Using the interpretive skills taught in the course, describe the form and content of each of the three images you chose to discuss. Respond to the following questions: What is the subject matter in each image? What do you think the photo is ­­­­­­expressing? How do formal considerations contribute to your interpretation of each photo’s content? ;Using the External Links, [M7] or any of your choice, find a fourth example and answer the same questions.

 (CG7, end of 3 dimensional art …M8 pdf)

Assignment 2, Part C: Form and Content of Three-dimensional Art   

For thousands of years sculpture has been the bedrock of three-dimensional art. Carved from stone or wood, or cast in bronze, sculpture has so often been figurative. From a western cultural perspective, sculpture has also often been in a realistic style. The advent of modern art in the first half of the twentieth century has radically changed the formal characteristics of sculpture and, in some cases, the content.

After viewing the following three images of sculptures, or three of your own choice, comment on the issues of form and content in each one:

== Assignment 3: Virtual Museum    ==;

Create a presentation of a Virtual Museum showing works of art in the categories stipulated below. Using separate slides, present an image of each of the works of art you have chosen. Note: Please check the copyright information at the sources of your images to ensure you have permission to copy each of your chosen works of art.

With your images, include the following important information in the order given here:

  • Title
  • Artist
  • Date
  • Culture/Style/Nationality/Religion (all or some, depending on the work)
  • Site where you found the image/information
  • Brief curatorial statement: Explain to the viewer any symbolism or interpretative materials they might need to understand the work, information about the culture or artist, time period, subject matter and style. Include any information you think would be important to understanding the work (this may mean doing some research about the style or artist). Make a brief statement as to why you chose the image, what interests you about it, and any personal commentary.

When you are finished, you should have 16 images (the specific number of images needed appears in italics after each category) in total in your Virtual Museum. Where specified, use only examples that are created by members of the cultures and fit the time periods described for each category. Here are the image requirements for your Virtual Museum:

  • Drawing: Contemporary from 1960 to present (2 images)
  • Painting: One image from a non-western culture dated between 100-1000; BCE, and one image from a western culture dated between 1960-present (2 images in total)
  • Printmaking: 1800-present (2 images, each from a different process)
  • Camera Arts: 1830-present (2 images)
  • Sculpture: Prehistory to present (2 images, one from a non-western culture, each choice using a different process) *Decorative Arts: 1700-present (2 images, one from an indigenous culture e.g. Native American, Australian Aboriginal, Oceana, African)
  • Architecture: Prehistory to the present (2 images)
  • Your choice of any two works of art or architecture of any time or culture that you find beautiful or interesting for any reason.