ARTH101 Study Guide

Site: Saylor Academy
Course: ARTH101: Art Appreciation
Book: ARTH101 Study Guide
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Date: Sunday, July 21, 2024, 6:00 AM

Navigating this Study Guide

Study Guide Structure

In this study guide, the sections in each unit (1a., 1b., etc.) are the learning outcomes of that unit. 

Beneath each learning outcome are:

  • questions for you to answer independently;
  • a brief summary of the learning outcome topic; and
  • and resources related to the learning outcome. 

At the end of each unit, there is also a list of suggested vocabulary words.

 

How to Use this Study Guide

  1. Review the entire course by reading the learning outcome summaries and suggested resources.
  2. Test your understanding of the course information by answering questions related to each unit learning outcome and defining and memorizing the vocabulary words at the end of each unit.

By clicking on the gear button on the top right of the screen, you can print the study guide. Then you can make notes, highlight, and underline as you work.

Through reviewing and completing the study guide, you should gain a deeper understanding of each learning outcome in the course and be better prepared for the final exam!

Unit 1: Defining Art

1a. Distinguish between the form and content of an artwork

  • How does art address our senses and minds differently?
  • What aspects of art can be analyzed comparatively regardless of which artist or culture produced it?
  • What shapes our interpretation of art?
Our understanding of art consists of a few qualities. First are the descriptions and analyses of a work of art's features. These are based on the perceptual qualities of the artwork (such as the colors, shapes, or contrasts the composition employs), the material they are made of, and the methods used to produce them. There are interpretive aspects of art that are informed by culture. These interpretations can be unique to a given person, group, or society. Since humans perceive art similarly across most populations (by using our eyes and ears), we often see fairly broad agreement about the perceptual and material aspects of art since we can objectively verify these qualities.
 
However, interpretations of art are often subjective. Art can be controversial, mysterious, socially significant, or personal. Our interpretations can depend on other factors, such as the cultural background of the artist or viewer, the use of symbolic material, and the artistic consumption habits of the audience.
 
We describe the perceptual and material dimensions (the objective aspects) of an artwork as its form, whereas the interpretive (subjective) components are its content. These categories, form and content, derive from Greek antiquity, where philosophers distinguished between what something says (the content) and how something is said (its form).
 
Example: In this image, a formal aspect of the image is that it is a triptych, meaning an image composed of three frames aligned side-by-side. An aspect of content is that the viewer needs to know something about important figures in Christianity as the image depicts, in the order of left to right: John the Baptist, the Virgin Mary, Jesus, St. John the Evangelist, and Mary Magdalene.
 

 
 To review, read Form and Content.
 

1b. Explain aesthetics and the role it plays in different cultural conventions and perspectives

  • What general intellectual endeavor does aesthetics belong to?
  • What kinds of questions does aesthetics ask?
  • How do we articulate aesthetic insights?
It is hard to separate art from conversations about it, which we call the discourses of art. Art is saturated with concepts, histories, schools and movements, linkages to the history of ideas, debates about the nature of beauty, and judgments on what makes art "good" or 'bad".
 
Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy that deals with matters related to art. The term is based on the ancient Greek word aisthesis, which means "sensory experience." As you might expect, different cultures have produced different discourses on aesthetics: for example, what people considered beautiful in Indian art 500 years ago will probably be different from what people considered beautiful during the European Renaissance or in a 20th-century postmodern exhibit. The development of ideas is inextricably linked to the movements of culture, and aesthetics is affected by variations across social geographies and throughout history.
 
Example: Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, which is an ordinary urinal that he signed "R. Mutt," is an example of a famous artwork that explicitly challenged our conception of what was considered art. Duchamp tried to exhibit Fountain at a show the Society of Independent Artists produced to test the limits of society's principles and commitment to artistic freedom.

 

To review, read Defining Art.
 

1c. Explain the difference between subjective and objective responses to art

  • What kinds of statements about art are likely to be non-controversial?
  • Which aspects of art require a more personal response?
  • What aspects of art can be subject to scientific investigation?
The distinction between subjective and objective information is key to the development of science and the philosophies that emerged during the Enlightenment. Both concepts come from Rene Descartes (1596–1650), a French philosopher and scientist who famously said, "I think, therefore I am."
 
We come to know the objective dimension of the world through our senses and through instruments that measure our environment. For example, we can analyze the pigments used in cave paintings and arrive at objective determinations about when they were produced using methods like carbon dating. Even in a less technical sense, we can agree that certain stylistic features belong to particular periods of time.
 
The subjective dimension is less tangible and is rooted in personal experiences. We do not only encounter art as raw sensory data, but we come to it already influenced by our own biases, expectations, needs, and prior art education. These factors, as well as other aspects that make us individuals, play a role in shaping our personal and social subjective responses to a work of art.
 
Example: An example of subjective and objective dimensions playing out in art can be found in a story related to Andy Warhol's work Brillo Soap Pads (also called the Brillo Box). Andy Warhol designed a series of plywood boxes and hired carpenters to create replicas of mass-produced commercial goods, including a replica box of Brillo soap pads that looked identical to the actual commercial product.
 
Objectively the artwork is just a cardboard box made to look like a common store item of packaged goods. But subjectively, the work invokes the graphic style of popular consumer culture and in an art context, can become quite valuable to collectors of art. This work was purchased in 1969 for $1,000 and sold at Christie's in 2010 for $3 million! Aside from its monetary value, another aspect of its subjective dimension is the way it makes its audience reconsider the potential aesthetic value of products they would never consider to be artistic in the first place.
 

 
To review, read Subjective and Objective Perspectives.
 

1d. Define the categories of art, such as fine art, pop art, and decorative art

  • What are some of the major kinds of popular art?
  • What arts are usually categorized under the concept of fine art?
  • How is decorative art different from popular and fine art?
Taking a broad view of the diversity of art practices, we can easily note that there is art that is "in the museums" (like paintings and sculptures), which is different from art that we may find "on the streets" (like graffiti or billboards) or even "on our persons" (as in the case of fashion) or in our homes (such as with embroidery and rugs).
 
Similarly, we organize art into the categories of fine art, popular art, or decorative art, depending on the roles it fulfills along these social dimensions. We can consider a work of art important for cultural preservation and reflection (fine art), to be a kind of popular communication (pop art), or to serve as handicraft that ornaments or decorates the useful items of our lives (decorative art).
 
Example: Some artworks intentionally blur the lines between functional, decorative, and fine art sensibilities. These objects seem to be usable in everyday contexts, but they were only intended to be exhibited in a gallery, such as Rodrigo Franzao's Mind I.


 
Andy Warhol's painting Brillo Box (discussed earlier) is a good example of pop art, which is fine art inspired by popular culture. So these categories of popular, fine, and decorative arts can certainly overlap with each other and even cross-pollinate.
 
To review, read Artistic Categories.

 

1e. Recognize, describe, and evaluate artistic styles, such as naturalistic, abstract, and non-objective

  • What do we mean when we say that art is "representational"?
  • How much stylization should be apparent in art before we consider it abstract?
  • What kinds of aesthetic experiences do non-objective art produce?
We often expect art to depict something specific, such as when a portrait needs to resemble a certain person. This is art's mimetic role, which comes from the Greek word mimesis and refers to creating a representation of something. This type of work has a naturalistic style.
 
But we also know that art often takes great creative liberties in representation, and that many works impart all sorts of stylizations to the objects they represent. We call these artworks abstractions, since their main goal is not to produce an "accurate" mimesis.
 
Finally, we have all experienced works of art that do not resemble anything at all from our everyday experiences. This kind of art may work with geometries, colors, or materials in ways that do not lend themselves to a clear interpretation. We call this kind of art non-objective because it foregoes any ties to recognizable objects of our experience.
 
Example: Carles Delclaux's painting Nura is an example of abstract art because it depicts recognizable objects in a highly stylized and thus non-naturalistic manner.
 

 
To review, read Artistic Styles.
 

1f. Discuss the capacity to reflect personally on art

  • What do you normally consider "art" in your everyday experience?
  • Have you ever had debates with friends or family about the artistic merits of a work you may have disagreed about?
  • How often do you find yourself trying to discover the backstory behind a work of art?
While there are many examples of people who reflect on art in a professional way – professors, curators, gallery owners, critics, and others, who use the terminology and the forms of argument of experts – artists usually intend to communicate with members of the general public, not simply those with narrow professional interests. Our experiences are saturated with art of some kind, depending on how we define it.
 
The graphic design in billboards, music streaming in the background, fashion worn around us, and entertainment such as movies and games in our streaming platforms are all examples of how art makes up the texture of our everyday experience.
 
This unit is about developing and directing your personal reflective capacity to the creative media and expression we see in our daily lives, not simply to examples we see in special locations and occasions, such as museums and concert halls.
 
To review these materials, read Defining Art.

 

Unit 1 Vocabulary

Be sure you understand these terms as you study for the final exam. Try to think of the reason why each term is included.

  • abstractions
  • aesthetics
  • content
  • decorative art
  • discourses
  • fine art
  • form
  • mimetic
  • non-objective
  • objective
  • perceptual qualities
  • pop art
  • subjective
  • triptych

Unit 2: Who Makes Art – Process and Training

2a. Describe the role of the critic

  • How do critics shape conversations around art?
  • What is the role of criticism in the understanding and appreciation of art?
  • What informs the opinions of critics?

In the social world of art, critics play an important role in shaping and refining the concepts we use to talk about art precisely and in contemporary debates about art. Curators create prose to unify specific exhibitions, and historians trace the influences on art across time and culture, but critics are the ones who hone the concepts and arguments that the people who take part in the discourse of art use. Critics debate the relevance of art, its cultural status, its quality, its meaning, and other aspects that are important to the conversations that happen in the world of art.
 
Example: Critics are not the only people who engage in art criticism. Artists can also be a part of the "game" of art criticism. Gabriel von Max's painting "Monkeys as Judges of Art," from 1889, satirizes the role art critics play. What do you think the artist might be saying about art criticism?


To review, read The Artistic Process.
 

2b. Describe the role of the artist

  • What are some ways social institutions promote creativity?
  • Is talent the main requirement for being a successful artist?
  • Are traditional arts considered creative?

While it is true that anyone can do creative things, usually, an artist is someone who has gone through a period of intensive study and training to refine their skills. Remember that many famous artists are self-taught since they engage in their own systematic methods of self-learning. But even in these cases, this learning depends on the formalization of artistic knowledge.
 
During the Middle Ages, artists honed the skills of their trade by participating in craft guilds. Students later attended prestigious institutes of artistic learning, such as the Royal Academy of Arts (founded in London in 1768) or Parson's School of Design (founded in New York in 1896), or the Julliard School (founded in New York in 1905). Many of today's artists learn from their compatriots, who disseminate their skills via YouTube channels and online tutorials. The period artists need to perfect their skills and artistic techniques is as true of the oldest, most traditional arts as the most contemporary art forms. Long periods of practice are required to achieve a high level of proficiency in making artwork.
 
To review, read Artistic Training Methods and The Artistic Process.
 

2c. Discuss the social world of art

  • What are some examples of art's "gatekeepers"?
  • How accurate is the idea of artists as "lone creative geniuses"?
  • Are commercial art galleries required for art to be important in society?

When we think about art casually and intuitively, we may believe art is an object of some kind, something more creative than practical. But we live in societies and cultures that have formed large complex social worlds around art, which give it special status. We do not typically think about the snowperson we sculpted in our front yard during a snowstorm as art or the shoes we cleverly matched with our outfit, but these are examples of creative activities we perform every day.
 
Art usually implies artistry which implies training, where the artist is exposed to particular traditions of creativity that formalize key concepts and values. The idea that artists have a kind of inner genius that propels them to create is a relatively recent myth, only a few hundred years old.
 
Expert voices are organized to communicate why the public should care about the significance of art, whether it is to announce a new film, art exhibit, or band that has reunited for a tour. Film and music critics and art curators are examples of the cultural gatekeeper role. This unit introduces ideas about the social world of art and how it informs our sense of its importance and institutionalizes knowledge about the arts, the knowledge artists study during their period of formal training.
 
To review, read The Artistic Process.
 

Unit 2 Vocabulary

Be sure you understand these terms as you study for the final exam. Try to think of the reason why each term is included.

  • craft guilds
  • creative
  • critics
  • cultural status
  • curators
  • formalization
  • gatekeeper
  • inner genius
  • meaning
  • quality
  • relevance

Unit 3: How Art Speaks – Finding Meaning

3a. Identify the four levels of meaning in works of art: formal, subject, context, and iconography

  • What qualities make art iconographic?
  • How does context shape the production and experience of art?
  • What are some of the main genres or subjects of art?

The formal qualities of art relate to its material qualities and the way we perceive them – inseparable from how we experience a work of art. Some art plays up its formal qualities, so they become more foreground than background – we might call this kind of art formalist due to the way it demonstrates concern for the perceptual and material components of art.
 
We can subdivide what we have called content into more specific categories. Over spans of time, we say that art shows evidence of genres (typical subjects of art), such as landscapes, portraiture, or street photography. In books and films, popular genres are sci-fi, romantic comedy, and mystery. We often discover allegorical meanings – sometimes called hidden or double meanings, frequently of a moral or critical nature – in many subjects and genres.
 
Art subjects organize traditions around making and influence our expectations of art. Art also has context, which describes its interconnections with other artworks, or other aspects of society. For example, some art is clearly made for religious spaces and takes religious themes and ceremony as its surrounding context to add to the meaning.
 
Art may also use common symbols, called iconography, which incorporate meanings a culture widely shares into the artwork itself, where it will be recognized by those who can decode the symbols.
 
Example: Art subjects are also called genres and are ways that we can instantly identify what an artwork is interested in communicating since, in any genre of art, there will be many thousands of examples with which we may already have some familiarity. This image is an example of landscape art, a common subject or genre of visual art.


To review, read The First Level of Meaning: Formal.
 

3b. Define the term context, and discuss its essential role in finding meaning in art

  • What are some of the main aspects of context that affect the making of art?
  • How does one distinguish context-related features of art from other features?
  • How does one become aware of the role of context in art?

Context can be a complex concept. It can relate to a whole range of factors, such as language, tradition, geography, worldviews, religion, history, and the present circumstances. It can also reference local materials, available technologies, and access to art schools. Many things impact how we produce and experience art. The factors that go beyond artists and the artworks themselves fall under context and exclude other factors, such as those that belong to the medium itself or to our perceptual capacities (formal factors).
 
Example: Street Art, which takes its inspiration from outdoor public places and urban environments, uses context to inform its visual style. For example, Richard Hambleton made artworks that looked like realistic crime scenes to stun passersby.


To review, read The Third Level of Meaning: Context.
 

3c. Describe the six critical perspectives: structural, deconstructive, formalist, ideological, psychoanalytical, and feminist

  • What are some common perspectives used in art criticism?
  • What are some similarities in the main critical perspectives?
  • What are some differences between critical perspectives?

Art criticism is an intellectual tradition that includes several critical perspectives that involve key concepts and methods of analysis.

  • Structural criticism considers art as a system of elements composed together, like a language or set of repeating forms. This kind of criticism argues that interpreting artworks involves examining stable, recurring cultural codes that art critics can decode.

    "Structural criticism involves studying social institutions as systems or structures and the relationships which organize these signs into meaningful systems. Structural analysis studies these relationships which we often see within very widely divergent societies." (Annette Michelson)

  • Deconstructive (also called post-structuralist) criticism, on the other hand, points to the differences in art that prevent it from forming stable structures of meaning. French philosopher Jacques Derrida, the French philosopher, asserted that there is not one single intrinsic meaning to be found in a work – there are often many, and they are often conflicting.

    "A deconstructive approach to criticism involves discovering, recognising and understanding the underlying and unspoken and implicit assumptions, ideas and frameworks of cultural forms such as works of art." (Art Terms, Tate Gallery)

  • Formalist criticism analyses the material and perceptual attributes of art and its associated experiences.

    "Formalism describes the critical position that the most important aspect of a work of art is its form – the way it is made and its purely visual aspects – rather than its narrative content or its relationship to the visible world. In painting, therefore, a formalist critic would focus exclusively on the qualities of colour, brushwork, form, line, and composition." (Art Terms, Tate Gallery)

  • Ideological criticism examines evidence of the power and social imbalances. It believes art can perpetuate worldviews that need to be challenged.

    "The primary goal of the ideological critic is to discover and make visible the dominant ideology or ideologies embedded in an artifact and the ideologies that are being muted in it." (Sonja Foss)

  • Similarly, feminist criticism focuses on gender inequality and roots out the forms of patriarchy in art.

  • Finally, psychoanalytic criticism traces the patterns of conflict between consciousness and the unconscious and examines artworks for aspects of personality that are beyond subjective control and which subvert social personas.

Examples: Feminist art often highlights the role of the male gaze in constructing images of women. At the same time, it may employ images of the female body in a free-spirited and self-assured manner. Pauline Boty's painting It's A Man's World II is a good example of this vein of work that exhibits this kind of ambivalence. It is a celebration of women and their freedom to express themselves through their bodies, but it is also cognizant of how desire is organized for men in typical poses of women that are popular in mass media.


Surrealist art was a movement psychoanalysis inspired, which saw dreams as "the royal road to the unconscious" as Freud wrote. These psychoanalytic interpretations look for the expression of psychological complexes in art, such as those caused by aspects of life we repress as we go about our social lives as productive citizens. These repressions appear in the form of neuroses, which psychoanalytic therapy seeks to uncover to help the patient cope. Surrealists sought psychoanalytic themes by creating images that provoke viewer discomfort by making them contemplate aspects of their lives they probably prefer to ignore in their daily lives.


To review, read Critical Perspectives.
 

3d. Explain the meaning of form and content

  • What components belong to art's formal qualities?
  • What shapes the meanings we obtain from encounters with artworks?
  • How can we tell the difference between form and content in art?

Form and content are not just ways to analyze art; artists use them deliberately to provoke specific responses in people. Artists might assume a common cultural background, so viewers instantly recognize the symbols they use. Or, they might use a specific process to create the work to achieve a certain perceptual effect. Many artists are keenly aware of the material properties of the media they work with. They understand the objective qualities and subjective responses people will likely experience when they view their work. Many formal principles of art are grounded in gestalt psychology, which studies how our sense of whole objects is organized in our perception.
 
To review, read Form and Content.
 

Unit 3 Vocabulary

Be sure you understand these terms as you study for the final exam. Try to think of the reason why each term is included.

  • allegorical
  • content
  • context
  • deconstructive criticism
  • feminist criticism
  • formalist
  • formalist criticism
  • genres
  • gestalt
  • iconography
  • ideological criticism
  • psychoanalytic criticism
  • religious themes
  • structural criticism
  • symbols

Unit 4: How Art Works – The Principles of Visual Language

4a. Define and describe artistic elements and principles of design

  • What is the difference between an artistic element and a principle of design?
  • What artistic elements can be combined to produce other elements?
  • Which principles of design can be found across many kinds of media?

When we consider art's formal aspects (materials, the methods used to work them, and their perceptual effects), we make a general distinction between basic units (called elements) and the various principles for combining elements. Elements proceed from simple to complex: from a point to a line, to a planar shape, to mass, to figure/ground distinctions, and so on.
 
In a given work of art, these fundamental formal units relate to one another on a second, higher level. They are arranged according to principles of design, such as balance, repetition, emphasis, unity, variety, proportion, and so on. The key point to understand is that there is a fundamental conceptual distinction between simpler formal elements themselves and the general rules or patterns of how they are combined, which are called the principles of design.
 
Example: This sculpture's aesthetic effect depends on the use of the elements of mass, space, and texture and the principles of balance, repetition, and proportion.


To review, read The Basic Elements and Space, Value, Color, and Texture.
 

4b. Compare and contrast artworks from different cultures using the language of art

  • What aspects of art can be compared across cultural contexts?
  • What are the ways that culture might influence art's creation and experience?
  • Why does criticism compare art across cultures?

Comparative analysis of art carefully looks for similarities and differences in similar art forms across different cultures. For example, you might compare the art we see in temples in Hindu and Buddhist cultures or between Christian churches and Jewish synagogues. Any cultural artifact that can be found in a variety of cultural contexts can be analyzed for its similarities and differences, such as textile patterns, paintings, sculptures, or films.
 
At a straightforward level, you can make verifiable statements about formal qualities (materials and methods used or their perceptual effects). You might then move beyond this and seek patterns, such as what might occur when one culture influences another through trade or migration. You might even claim to find common archetypes in two images and narrative artifacts from a wide diversity of cultural sources. In any comparison and contrast, it is important to remain grounded in evidence and not leap to conclusions that may be affected by your own personal or cultural biases.
 
To review, read The Principles of Design.
 

Unit 4 Vocabulary

Be sure you understand these terms as you study for the final exam. Try to think of the reason why each term is included.

  • archetypes
  • artifact
  • elements
  • formal aspects
  • fundamental formal units
  • influences
  • principles of design

Unit 5: Artistic Media

5a. Identify and describe specific characteristics of the media that artists use

  • What are the main kinds of media used in drawings and paintings?
  • What are the main kinds of representation found in sculpture?
  • How does time-based media differ from traditional spatial media, such as drawings and sculpture?

We can broadly define two-dimensional (2D) art as comprised of wet or dry media. For example, watercolor is a wet media, while graphite is a dry media. Artists can use wet and dry media to create imagery specific to 2D forms. Artists produce three-dimensional (3D) media, such as sculpture, by additive or subtractive means.
 
Additive means are when the artist lumps materials together, as when working with clay. Subtractive means the artist removes material to create a form, such as by carving and chiseling away at a stone sculpture. Other forms of 3D media involve collaboration among artists, such as with festival spaces like Burning Man and other performance-based works.
 
Installations activate large spaces by treating them as compositional zones that defy other categorizations, such as architecture or interior design. Within these broad categories of 2D and 3D media are many specific technologies, forms, and techniques.
 
2D art includes:

  1. Drawing – usually uses dry media such as chalk, pastels (colored chalk), charcoal, graphite, and oil-based pastels
  2. Painting – uses pigments for colors, such as oil-based acrylic or water-based watercolor
  3. Printmaking – produces copies of an original template image onto a new surface

There are six main painting mediums:

  1. Encaustic – mixes pigments with a beeswax-binding element
  2. Tempera – combines pigments with an egg yolk binder
  3. Fresco – mixes pigments with plaster using several methods
  4. Oil – mixes pigments with linseed oil
  5. Acrylic – mixes pigment with a synthetic polymer material
  6. Watercolor – mixes the pigments with water-soluble gum arabic

All mediums of painting require similar elements: pigments (the basis of the color), a binder (in which the pigments are suspended), and a solvent (for control when applying the paint).
 
Prints are produced via relief (where the ink is applied to the original surface, not in the etched-out areas as with woodcuts or the ukiyo-e "floating world" form that developed in East Asia), intaglio (where the ink fills in the etched-out areas, as with etchings) and planar (where the ink is flush to the original surface, as in lithography) methods. Another planar method is serigraphy, which is commonly called silkscreen, in which ink is poured through a mesh onto a substrate, which is how t-shirt graphics are created. Collage is another important form of 2D art, which uses fragments or pieces of images and various materials recomposed into a new pattern.
 
Example: This work by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon combines chalk and charcoal on paper.


To review, read Two-Dimensional Media and Three-Dimensional Media.
 

5b. Explain how advances in technology affected art practices

  • What are some new forms of art that emerged from key technological developments?
  • How do artists respond to the introduction of new technologies?
  • Why do new technologies not replace older technologies in art?

Historically, every new technology capable of producing images, sounds, or representations was used artistically at some point, whether it was used widely (such as in photographs) or more experimentally (such as with analog video synthesizers or air raid sirens in Futurist music compositions). The use of technology can often be quite surprising and unanticipated, as with the use of mobile and social media technologies to organize flash mobs – spontaneously organized groups who gather in public spaces for brief performances.
 
We follow a common pattern when new media art is introduced – we use them in the style of the old media. For example, we talk of webpages even though the internet is not made of paper. The web is full of pages because the dominant medium before the web, the book, was full of pages. The first photographic portraits looked just like painted portraits, and so on. Gradually, creative people begin to notice the unique affordances of new media technologies and eventually leave behind simple imitations of old styles as they pursue new expressive effects unique to the new media.
 
To review, read Early Development.
 

5c. Explain the effect photography had on traditional artistic media

  • How did photography affect portraiture?
  • How did painters respond to the new medium of photography?
  • How did painting styles change in response to photography's increasing popularity?

New technologies that make their way into the art world typically enter a crowded field of practices and traditions. Photography provides an interesting case study because it is a relatively new medium (originating in the 19th century). It is easy to see and understand the changes it wrought.
 
Photography made portraiture, which was expensive to produce, accessible to the larger population. In the beginning, many photographic portraits emulated painting styles. Photography freed painters to do more things with paint than simply copy reality, which opened up new avenues toward abstraction and non-objective art. Photography changed and challenged the notion of art as a precious object – since we could reproduce photographs by the thousands or even millions. The status of art was transformed from being a unique work to a different notion of art as something that could be commonplace. Further investigations into photographic technologies, such as attempts to reproduce illusions of movement, led to new photo-based media such as film and video.
 
Examples: Portraiture was one of the most popular uses of painting, and photography made it more accessible to a wider population.


To review, read Effects on Other Media.
 

5d. Differentiate between two-dimensional and three-dimensional media

  • What are the main differences between 2D and 3D artistic media?
  • How is depth rendered in 2D media?
  • What forms of 3D media also dynamically change in time?

No painting or drawing is purely two-dimensional since all surfaces have a thickness, and two-dimensional (2D) planes are, in fact, a geometric abstraction. However, in 2D or planar-surface-based art, the thickness of the medium is of no or little importance. With 2D art, we only pay attention to the image rendered on the surface of the medium (paper, canvas, wall, etc.) in its height-by-width aspect ratio.
 
With three-dimensional (3D) art, depth is added to height and width, which has a tremendous impact on the creation and reception of art. Whether the artist uses depth to cut a stone figure against its background material, arrange people in space during a work of performance art, or place objects in a room as in installation art, they activate all three dimensions of physical space in 3D art in a way that is not true of 2D art.
 
To review, read Two-Dimensional Media and Three-Dimensional Media.
 

5e. Explain the technologies, aesthetics, and techniques that define photography as an artistic medium

  • What subject matters were of interest to the first photographers?
  • How do photographic images differ from painted ones, even when the subject matter may be similar?
  • Name some key technological changes photographers adopted during the early days of photography.

Photography appeared during a time when painting was the dominant form of image-making in everyday life. The first photographic technologies added a chemical process to the previous technology of the camera obscura, which painters had long used to produce highly realistic representations. This technique automated the image-making process for the first time and introduced new roles for technology beyond those immediately associated with the practiced hand of the artist.
 
The earliest forms of photography used chemical processes to produce a single print, which was unique and not easily duplicatable. The earliest known photographic technology was heliography (sun writing), which Joseph Niépc invented using plates made of pewter. The daguerreotype came a little later (named after Louis Daguerre), which exposed images on silver-plated copper. William Henry Fox Talbot's invention of the calotype introduced the first processes involving a negative and a positive image, which allowed for unlimited duplication of images based on the same original.
 
Photographers took over several key artistic genres that were popular in painting, such as portraiture and landscape. This put new creative and innovation pressures on painters who eventually moved toward greater degrees of abstraction. Photography also has its capacities for abstraction and processing, which were initially chemically based and not dominated by digital pixel-based processing software. Photography has also transformed journalistic practices – it is now essential to recording events as they happen for mass audiences.
 
To review, read Effects on Other Media.
 

5f. Explain the technologies, aesthetics, and techniques that define time-based photographic imagery in video, film, performance, and installation

  • What was photography's role in the origins of cinema and new media?
  • How do cinema and new media use time?
  • What are some new capacities that computers bring to artmaking?

Technical studies in photography led to the development of cinematic technologies, which brought time (and its capacity to represent motion) as a new dimension in creative media. Before this development, time was usually referred to as real-time, as in live performance, typical of art forms like music and theater. The ability of photographically realistic media to encode time and produce illusions of visual motion was fundamental to art's evolution during the 19th and 20th centuries.
 
Over time, new media has become increasingly accessible, miniaturized, and portable. Today, most cell phones can record video as a default feature. Other art forms, such as installations and performance art, often incorporate video. Computers, which are digital, treat images as data – 0s and 1s that can be manipulated via software into whole new categories of art.
 
To review, read Time-Based Media: Film, Video, and Digital.
 

Unit 5 Vocabulary

Be sure you understand these terms as you study for the final exam. Try to think of the reason why each term is included.

  • acrylic
  • additive means
  • binder
  • calotype
  • camera obscura
  • cinematic technologies
  • collaboration
  • collage
  • compositional zones
  • daguerreotype
  • drawing
  • dry media
  • encaustic
  • flash mob
  • fresco
  • heliography
  • installations
  • intaglio
  • new media art
  • oil
  • painting
  • performance-based works
  • photography
  • pigments
  • planar
  • printmaking
  • prints
  • relief
  • serigraphy
  • solvent
  • subtractive means
  • tempera
  • three-dimensional (3D) media
  • time
  • two-dimensional (2D) art
  • ukiyo-e
  • watercolor
  • wet media

Unit 6: Architecture

6a. Explain how the form of architecture affects the use of a structure

  • What impacts how works of architecture are built and how they appear?
  • What typical human functions does architecture support?
  • What have been some of the main technologies that influenced architectural style?

Since buildings serve to support human functions, their forms require different approaches to their structural design. Designers sought the optimal structures to support the required function. The earliest surviving structures used a post and lintel system that combined vertical (the post) and horizontal (the beam or lintel) structural elements.
 
The Greeks elaborated on this structural concept by using colonnades – long repeating sequences of freestanding columns topped with Ionic, Corinthian, or Doric capital styles connected by a horizontal entablature – which is an important feature of the Acropolis complex of structures in Athens.
 
During the Roman period, new structural forms such as arches and domes integrated curving surfaces to provide open interior spaces and stronger load-bearing capacity. Arches supported aqueducts or "water highways" that transported water over long distances throughout the empire.
 
During the Romanesque period, architects elaborated on the Greek and Roman precedents. Arches adopted a more semi-circular shape. Gothic cathedrals incorporated slender arches with tapering vaults to support the tall ceilings that would maximize the amount of outside light to penetrate the interior spaces to create a heavenly presence. This required new inventions such as vaulted ceilings and flying buttresses.
 
The Industrial Revolution introduced several key building technologies suitable for mass production and scale. Reinforced concrete, which can withstand compression (downward) forces with metal rebar to enhance its strength, could support larger structures and improve their ability to withstand shearing forces in which elements are pulled in opposite directions, such as during strong winds.
 
Central train stations were built with iron trusses and skylights to accommodate several tracks and trains to transport thousands of passengers who used them on a daily basis. Their new, busier lives required more frequent travel between cities.
 
Column-frame structures created a horizontal and vertical grid of elements based on standardized sizes.
 
Modern architectural movements such as Art Nouveau (1890–World War I), DeStijl (World War I–1931), and the Bauhaus (1919–1933) embraced these new technologies to advance the forms of our built environment to suit a post-industrial age.
 
To review, read Methods and Materials.
 

6b. Describe traditional and modern styles of architecture and the effects of the Industrial Revolution on architecture

  • Compare structures built before and after the Industrial Revolution to show how architectural norms changed.
  • What were some of the main techniques for making buildings before the Industrial Revolution?
  • What were some of the main technologies introduced by the Industrial Revolution?

The Industrial Revolution (1760–1840) in Europe brought the ability to mass-produce building components, including new possibilities for steel-based frames and concrete that would radically increase the scale of built structures. These buildings were inherently different from those built out of stone or wood and assembled with much less technological apparatus.
 
Steel and reinforced concrete meant spans could be larger, loads could be heavier, and the buildings could withstand more forceful stresses. It also meant contemporary architects and designers would deem traditional styles of ornament and decoration unsuitable. They fully embraced the new building materials and methods and refused to remain tied to forms based on earlier technologies.
 
To review, read Architecture and the Industrial Revolution.
 

6c. Explain how architecture acts as a reflection of culture

  • What are some examples of buildings that show influences from different cultures?
  • What examples of buildings with features can we trace to a cultural factor?
  • What were some ways cultural interests in architecture changed during the 20th century, according to various styles?

When we travel to other countries, we notice how buildings change based on their geographic location. The buildings we see across the world reflect alternative social contexts and represent the variety of cultural backdrops in which these buildings were created. While their general functions may be similar – for worship, education, work, housing, or military defense – the uniqueness of cultures means architecture will find unique forms that are well-suited to the cultural environment, which distinguishes these forms from those built elsewhere.
 
Example: Modernist architects rejected ornament and decorative elements based on past historical styles. Rather, they wanted to embrace contemporary materials and methods and create a style dissociated from the past and addressed the present. A popular Modernist idea was that homes should be like "machines for living."


The form of a cathedral was based on the idea of creating a great sense of height, with lots of colorful light to provoke spiritual contemplation and awe. This form's aesthetics was grounded in Christian practices of worship and in Catholicism in particular (relative to later Protestant movements).

Religious buildings were meant to possess a sensual grandeur to inspire the faithful and create a strong sense of ceremony.


To review, read Cross-Cultural Influences on Architecture.
 

6d. Describe how new green technologies are changing architecture and design

  • What are the main kinds of building systems and functions that sustainable technologies in architecture address?
  • What are the main technologies used in green architecture?
  • Can you name some examples of green design in architecture?

All buildings are systems. While we may think of them as structures, offices, or homes, they support human functions by assembling multiple specific functions to address our human needs. Typical building systems include heating, cooling, lighting, ventilating, and powering. Today, these systems might recycle rainwater or support a living roof.
 
We can trace the associated methods and technologies for each of these systems back to the origins of architecture. However, many of these systems are unsustainable in today's more ecologically-informed era. Green or sustainable design explores new ways to provide the same kinds of traditional building systems with new approaches that minimize harmful environmental impacts.
 
To review, read Green Architecture.
 

6e. Describe recent periodizations of architectural history during the past century

  • What is the difference between modern and postmodern architecture?
  • How does postmodern architecture treat past historical forms?

Despite conservative trends such as neoclassicism at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, architects began to incorporate a more integrated approach to their designs. They abandoned their concern with ornamentation (which represented past historical epochs) and embraced new forms that were "truer" to post-Industrial Revolution methods of construction. Buildings began to look like the concrete, glass, and steel they were made of. They no longer adopted the veneer of being made of carved stone to resemble the Greek, Roman, or Gothic exemplars.
 
Modernism abandoned ornament, embraced function and utility, and gave universal value to forms such as the uniform grid. However, architects gradually rebelled against many of these modernist tenets; they perceived they were too serious and lacked vitality. With postmodernism, architects re-embraced ornament and non-grid forms, often with a more playful and ironic spirit.
 
To review, read Modern Architecture: A New Language and Post-Modern and Contemporary Architecture.
 

Unit 6 Vocabulary

Be sure you understand these terms as you study for the final exam. Try to think of the reason why each term is included.

  • arch
  • Art Nouveau
  • Bauhaus
  • colonnade
  • column-frame
  • compression
  • Corinthian
  • DeStijl
  • dome
  • Doric
  • entablature
  • flying buttress
  • form
  • function
  • Gothic
  • green design
  • Industrial Revolution
  • Ionic
  • iron truss
  • load-bearing
  • neoclassicism
  • ornament
  • post and lintel
  • rebar
  • Romanesque
  • shearing
  • system
  • utility
  • vault
  • vaulted ceiling

Unit 7: Our World – Nature, the Body, Identity, Sexuality, Politics, and Power

7a. Explain how using animals and other natural phenomena in art offers clues to cultural differences

  • How do scientific visualizations differ from other kinds of art?
  • How do depictions of animals and nature differ across cultural contexts?
  • How was the Greek concept of mimesis applied to artistic representations of animals and nature?

Nature and the objects of nature (landscapes, animals, flora) have been a source of artistic inspiration and subject material as far as we can trace historically. Think of the animals depicted in cave paintings many thousands of years ago. Depictions of natural subject matter range from highly idealized and stylized imagery, such as animals that represent gods or forces of nature, to a different aesthetic treatment used in scientific contexts as illustrations grounded in accurate representation.
 
Example: The German artist Albrecht Dürer based this woodcut of a rhinoceros on a written description and brief sketch of an Indian rhinoceros that had arrived in Lisbon in 1515.



To review, read Nature.
 

7b. Explain how political art uses nature, the body, identity, sexuality, politics, or power for public reflection

  • What are some examples of art that address major political events unfolding in history?
  • How do artists approach themes of sexuality and gender in their art?
  • What are some examples of artists interested in the expressive potential of the human body?

Artists often ground their artworks in themes that generalize their social life to make statements. In social discourse, debates rage about sex and power, politics and violence, and nature and the body. Artworks present creative positions in these public spaces to amplify the ideas they support or contest.
 
When artists engage in public discourse, their art can provide a fixture of long-term cultural memory, such as when they create memorials to remind people of important events. Artists also use historical and political events as subject matter, such as when Picasso expressed strong anti-war themes in his painting Guernica.
 
Alternately, some artists strive to create artworks that are transitory, short-lived, or temporary – a popular example is the annual Burning Man festival, a nine-day celebration that culminates in setting fire to a large wooden man-shaped effigy. The Burning Man festival is about the free expression of personal identity and creativity and how individuals differ.
 
To review, read Politics, Conflict, and War and Peace.
 

Unit 7 Vocabulary

Be sure you understand these terms as you study for the final exam. Try to think of the reason why each term is included.

  • Burning Man
  • Guernica
  • identity
  • memorial
  • nature

Unit 8: Other Worlds – Myths, Dreams, and Spirituality

8a. Describe how artists incorporate ideas of the spirit in their art

  • What are some differences between art in the world's major organized religions and its appearance in traditional rituals and ceremonies?
  • What are the main differences between the art of Western and near-Eastern religions, such as Christianity and Islam?
  • What are some of the main features of Buddhist art?

We can make a general distinction between the major organized religions of the world – Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, or Judaism – which are relatively few and associated with globalized identities and hierarchical social institutions. Compare these major religions with the smaller, myriad, diverse tribes and bands who also practice beliefs, rituals, and ceremonies we can trace back for millennia.
 
Whether they are religious or spiritual in nature, artworks express a facet of human existence that invokes ultimate questions about human nature and the cosmos. For example, Muslims use the fine art of calligraphy to represent meanings of divine origin since Islam forbids idolatry or the production of human and other visual forms in their art. Artists who follow various Eastern traditions often use mandalas (elaborate, layered, circle-based, geometric forms) to organize symbols to help meditation and establish sacred spaces for ritual.
 
To review, read Spirituality.
 

8b. Explain art as a form of myth

  • What is a myth, and why do myths continuously appear in art?
  • Why do the myths of antiquity (such as in ancient Greece) appear in later art, such as in Europe during the Romantic period?
  • What are some examples of contemporary myth-making in popular art?

We derive the word myth from the Greek mythos, which means story. Every culture has collections of stories (such as folk tales or heroic epics) that help define cultural identity across space and time in accordance with their most ancient historical backdrop. These old creation myths often tie their people to territories or to current events.
 
We retell myths, legends, stories, and songs to highlight the more durable features of human character and general patterns of life that recur across the generations. For example, Western visual artists often use the image of Cupid (a winged child), the Roman god of love, to reference love, romance, and passion in human affairs.
 
Examples: Myth in art may be contemporaneous or retrospective. In other words, some works of art were created when myths were reflected in everyday social use. We associate myths with classical periods that artists point to for their mythical stories and imagery – artists use myths as valuable tools to speak to universal themes. This retrospective use of myth may take the form of nostalgia for classical times or idealism (venerating the art and stories of the past and bestowing esteem on them for their high quality). An important example in the Western world is the book of Genesis in the Bible, which narrates an origin story for everything that exists.
 
Myths typically personify psychological or physical forces by providing a human, animal, or hybrid bodily form that represents them.
 



 
To review, read Myths.
 

8c. Explain linkages between mythical and spiritual subject matter to human psychology

  • What are some key works of art that have drawn on mythology?
  • What art movement is associated with the exploration of the unconscious?
  • Outside of Western art, what other cultural practice draws on human psychological connections to mythical subject matter?

Where do creative ideas come from? The ancient Greeks credited the nine muses with providing divine inspiration to the human arts. Today, we use a post-scientific perspective to analyze spiritual and mythical matters as products of the human psyche. Toward the end of the 19th century, psychoanalysis (most famously associated with Sigmund Freud) emerged as a new empirical discipline that found "the royal road to the unconscious" in dreams and understood fantasy as revealing the structures of the human mind.
 
Surrealist artists used Freud's ideas as a theoretical justification for producing provocative art, which sought to disturb people by making them confront images rich in symbolic meaning of the kind society typically represses. Techniques such as automatism (automatic writing) were used to produce art directly from the unconscious without intervention by filtering the conscious mind, which might over-rationalize the meanings in the art. Other cultures found rich mythical meanings in dream-based content, such as Australian aboriginal peoples with their ritualized conception of dream time, which provided a cultural foundation for them in their relationship with the land and their ancestors.
 
To review, read Dreams.
 

Unit 8 Vocabulary

Be sure you understand these terms as you study for the final exam. Try to think of the reason why each term is included.

  • automatism
  • calligraphy
  • contemporaneous
  • Cupid
  • divine inspiration
  • dream time
  • folk tale
  • Genesis
  • heroic epic
  • idolatry
  • mandala
  • myth
  • religious
  • retrospective
  • spiritual
  • surrealism

Unit 9: Art in Time and Place – The Western World

9a. Associate different artistic styles with specific geographies, eras, beliefs, and historical events

  • What are some of the features of art that resulted from cultural beliefs in the afterlife?
  • What are some aspects of art as it developed in Renaissance Europe?
  • What kinds of cultural influences combined in art created along the Silk Road?
Ideas about art change along with the general conceptual evolution of the history of ideas. For example, the ideas the Renaissance artists focused on, such as new discoveries around rendering the illusion of perspective, differ from what interested romantic artists, such as their concern with the expression of self and human nature as found in classical myths.
 
New technologies, such as photography, freed painters from having to adopt a discipline that prompted them to mirror reality and opened up creative spaces for new approaches, such as impressionism, cubism, and expressionism.
 
The futurists were obsessed with war and technological change, while the Fauvists believed art had become too gloomy and needed a lighter and brighter emotional spirit. This unit spans tens of thousands of years, beginning with the cave paintings – whose original meanings we can only surmise – to today's postmodern era.
 

9b. Link artworks and artists based on historical and geographic contexts

  • Who are some of the artists associated with impressionism?
  • What are some of the characteristics of artworks associated with expressionism?
  • What were some of the identifying features of Byzantine art?
History and geography are disciplines that study human aspects of time and space. Many museums arrange their artworks and artifacts in rooms according to their geographical origins – such as the Art of Japan, Sumeria, or Mexico. As we wander these museums, we associate artworks with their areas of origin. However, it becomes increasingly difficult to build a historical progression of creative practices into museum design. This timeline implies a linear movement of events that progress in one direction in time exists – but this geographic allocation of museum collections to museum rooms does not always translate well in the artistic forum. This unit will help you form the main associations of key artworks with historical periods and the areas of the globe where they originated.
 
Examples: Viewing art historically allows us to trace ideas across thousands of years. For example, the Roman innovation of the arch was not simply a structural invention It was also a cultural reference for architecture during the Romanesque period (6th to 11th century) when Roman forms were rediscovered during the Middle Ages. Much later still, postmodern architects would mine Roman forms for their expressive value as kitsch, to express light-hearted, frivolous, and playful cultural references.
 

 

 

 

9c. Describe the key stylistic features of major art periods and movements

  • What are some ways Roman art and architecture continued to exert a strong influence even more than a millennium after the dissolution of the Roman Empire?
  • What is a distinguishing feature of Gothic architecture?
  • What city is associated with the origins of the Renaissance, and what were its features that supported this important development in culture?
Given the thousands of years of art history surveyed in this course and its global spatial extant, it might seem overwhelming to understand all of the art forms and styles covered. However, there are some ways of thinking about historical developments in art that make this "grand tour" more approachable and the study of it more manageable.
 
One way to think about these art periods is to consider that we see an increasing pace of change throughout their lifespan. For example, in the ancient world of Egypt, key stylistic elements might last for thousands of years. Jump forward to the 20th century. An important artistic movement might spring up, flourish, and fall out of fashion within a decade, followed quickly by similarly relatively short-lived (but continuously influential) art movements. Between these two extremes, other movements last for centuries (that is, shorter than millennia but longer than decades). So, that is one pattern to keep in mind as you review the historical material in this unit.
 
Another way to approach the scope of historical content is to note certain critical pivot points where something of great importance occurred that caused a major shift in the way art was made. This can range from the invention of a new technique, such as the use of arches in buildings, or the use of the camera obscura to make paintings more realistic.
 
Competition among religious factions, such as between the Roman Catholic Church and Protestantism, is another example of a general historical and cultural impact that defined major differences in how artists approached artistic representation.
 
Another pivot point is the relationship between representation and abstraction, which is a contrast that occurs in several historical places (such as Greek versus Egyptian art, Early Renaissance versus Medieval art, and art after the Impressionists).
 
As you review the material in this unit, keep in mind these two factors: 1.) The general compression of historical change over time, and 2.) Major pivot points where suddenly a lot of changes from that point forward.
 
To review, read Romanesque, Gothic Art: Jamb Figures, and Florence in the Early Renaissance.
 

9d. Associate artistic styles and movements within their historical sequence and progression

  • What were some of the key societal changes occurring that can be found at the beginnings of modern art?
  • What has traditionally been the attitude toward the ruling classes of the avant-garde in art?
  • What qualities were of most interest to Impressionist painters?
Considering Western art during the past two and a half millennia, we can highlight some key periodizations working at a high level. First, we can note the enduring influence of Greek and Roman art, which has ebbed and waned over time so that even in the 20th century, architects might pursue ideas using strict ancient world motifs, at first with deep seriousness (such as neoclassical buildings used for government agencies or museums), and later with a spirit that is more playful during postmodern times. The loss of Greek and Roman culture is a distinguishing characteristic of the Middle Ages, and its rediscovery is the beginning of the Renaissance, which is how pervasive and long-lasting the influence of the ancient Mediterranean world continues to be.
 
Christianity, both in its Roman Catholic and Protestant formations, is another powerful social and cultural force, providing widely shared religious narratives and values which shape what is considered worthwhile to be produced as art, often produced in a way to be embedded in churches, chapels and cathedrals to last hundreds of years, if not longer.
 
Another powerful force comes under modernism, encapsulating many other elements such as the rise of cities, capitalism, science, and technology. Modern ideas and art play off against the cultures of Christianity and the ancient world and introduce new dynamics in creativity, particularly one of constant revolution or evolution where new movements arise out of old ones at a much more highly accelerated pace compared to previous centuries.
 

9e. Describe the prominent characteristics and aesthetic developments of art since the 20th century

  • What art movement was inspired by the noise and violence of World War 1?
  • Would you characterize Georgia O'Keefe's famous flower paintings as abstract, non-objective, or representational?
  • What makes Frank Gehry's early work deconstructivist?
Western art from the 20th century onward is far less influenced by the social forces of Greek and Roman antiquity or Christianity. Whereas it was possible to see modern forces associated with large cities, industrialization, capitalism, science, and technology during previous centuries in some kind of contrast with traditional cultural forces (like romanticism, as a rebellion against technology that often invoked classical values), in the 20th century, modernism is in full swing, producing movement after movement in relatively fast succession.
 
If asked to point to a new conservative force that appears on the scene, presenting obstacles to the avant-garde's love of constant revolution and evolution of styles, it would be the State, particularly autocratic, totalitarian, and authoritarian states such as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.
 
These governments tried to enforce traditional values in various ways, such as the Degenerate Art exhibit in Germany, or through the aesthetic of socialist realism – previously the domain of Church or classical antiquity – on an art scene that was moving far beyond them by privileging wild experimentation, individualistic expression, and often eschewing representation entirely in favor of ever-more abstract forms.
 

 

Unit 9 Vocabulary

Be sure you understand these terms as you study for the final exam. Try to think of the reason why each term is included.

  • cave painting
  • cubism
  • expressionism
  • Fauvism
  • futurism
  • impressionism
  • modernism
  • pivot point
  • Renaissance
  • romantic
  • romanticism