Art History Can Be Fun!

By Bain, Christina | School Arts, November 1999 | Go to article overview

Art History Can Be Fun!


Bain, Christina, School Arts


There is little argument that the study of art history is an essential component of discipline-based art education. As art teachers, how can we make art history more enticing and relevant for our students? This question inspired the following unit.

Starting with Art History

Although this lesson was taught to undergraduate elementary education majors, I believe that it can be easily adapted to any grade level. Since my students had no background in art history, I began with a broad overview of the major art historical periods, supplemented richly with visual images from books, slides, and large reproductions. My objective was not to provide in-depth information, but to peak student's interests through discussion focusing on objects representative of several time periods and stylistic movements.

During our next class, we met in the library for a "serendipity" experience. The Random House Dictionary defines serendipity as "an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.

"I instructed students to browse through art books until they found an artist that they found personally appealing or interesting. Since each student would soon be writing a short artist biography to share with their classmates, students used this class period to collect resources.

Writing, Speaking, and Art Criticism

The written component of this assignment consisted of a one to two page report that was an encapsulation of the most significant aspects of the chosen artist's life and work. I did not want my students to merely copy down reams of meaningless dates and titles, instead I asked the students to focus on their artist and write about them as if they were a close family member or friend. I explained to them that they had to be prepared to answer questions regarding their report--therefore, they must be knowledgeable about various art terms associated with their artist. I also required that students include a small "visual" in the upper right hand corner of their report. This could be any type of small reproduction or a simple illustration representing a specific work. Although optional, many students also included photographs or portraits of their artists as well.

Oral presentations were limited to five to ten minutes in length. During that time, students read their artist profile aloud, handed out copies of their report to each classmate, showed three or more images of their artist's work, and answered classmates` questions. I noticed three significant developments during the presentations. First, because the reports were succinct, all students remained fully engaged during the presentations. Second, their obvious interest was shown in the amount and type of questions that they asked one another. Students often asked one another for clarification on artistic terminology or unfamiliar technical processes. Some of the questions also pertained to the personal lives of artists, providing us with additional contextual knowledge. Third, the students were highly motivated and excited about sharing their information with classmates. I think this can be credited to the fact that students were allowed to select their artist, rather than have one assigned to them at the beginning of the project.

Art Production with Limited Art Supplies

It was important to me that my students use their critical thinking skills in order to do more than merely create a copy of their artist's work or style. I wanted students to visually demonstrate through their artistic production that they truly understood what made a Rembrandt a Rembrandt or a Michelangelo a Michelangelo. Faced with scant resources, I asked myself, what do college students have easy access to that is inexpensive and expendable? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Art History Can Be Fun!
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.