Overview and introduction

From WikiEducator
Jump to: navigation, search


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 of visual effects: what we see in front of our eyes. In this unit, we will begin to break down some barriers to find specific meaning in art, including those of different styles and cultures.

Icon objectives.jpg
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will 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.


File:Some Obscure Reference Logo.jpg
"...that thing you can't explain..."
There is only one thing in a work of art that is important: it’s that thing you can’t explain.

—Georges Braque

Even though Braque’s enigmatic quote cloaks works of art in mystery, art, by its nature, holds meaning. It explains ideas, uncovers truths, manifests what is beautiful and tells stories. It is at once a form of visual expression and non-verbal communication. Many times an artwork’s meaning, or content, is easy to see. Two examples are the freshness of an Impressionist landscape painting or the identity inherent in a portrait photograph. But sometimes the meaning in a work of art is hidden, deciphered from signposts and clues imbedded in the work by the artist. In this module we will see how formal properties, subject matter, iconography and context team up to help interpret meaning in art. Let’s approach these four terms as different levels of meaning we can examine to get a more complete understanding of what we are seeing.