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Art, by its nature, asks questions and holds meaning. It explains ideas, uncovers truths, manifests what is beautiful, and tells stories. Up until now, we have been looking at artworks through the most immediate aspect of visual effects: what we see in front of our eyes. In this module, we will begin to break down some barriers to find specific meaning in art, including those of different styles and cultures.

Topics in this module are:

  • How we see
  • First level of meaning: formal
  • Second level of meaning: Subject
  • Third level of meaning: Context
  • Fourth level of meaning: Iconography
  • Critical perspectives

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Upon successful completion of this module, you should be able to:

  • Explain the meaning of both form and content.
  • Undertake comparative descriptions of form and content.
  • Identify the three levels of meaning in works of art.
  • Identify the use of iconography in art.
  • Define the term “context,” and discuss its essential role in finding meaning in art.
  • Describe the role of the critic.
  • Identify and describe the six critical perspectives.
  • Identify, research, integrate, and explain visual information concerning artworks and specific meaning.

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This module includes two activities: Interpreting Meaning and Style and Meaning.

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Assignment 1, Part C: Critical Perspectives (5%) is included in this module.