Magazine article School Arts

World Happenings in the Art Room

Magazine article School Arts

World Happenings in the Art Room

Article excerpt

Often artists are influenced and motivated to respond to world events. The dynamics of world happenings have been the subject of many artworks. These images are seldom neutral records. Often, they position the viewer to respond as the artist feels. Subjects that seem to have an obvious message may convey mixed positions depending upon the artist, audience or patron.

The artist has often been a reporter and commentator of world events. For instance, most people consider war and fighting undesirable, horrendous and inhuman. But war has been communicated as horrible and noble through various artworks. Some artists have conveyed a repulsion for the horrors and waste of war; others have glamorized and valorized war efforts. Some artists have celebrated the hustle and bustle of the city as a wonderful and exciting place; others have shown the city as a wasteland of decay and human agony. Some artists have depicted nature as an inviting and nurturing environment; others have portrayed it as an enemy to survival and a wild place.

An Artist's Response

Picasso's Guernica is an example of an artist's response to world happenings. Before allowing my eighth grade students to look at the painting, I gave them background information on what was happening in the world at that time. I told them Picasso was a Spaniard living in France during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. I explained that Guernica was a Spanish town where there were no strategic military installations. According to history, the Germans staged a night raid on the civilian population, and it is thought to have been a practice run for saturation bombing later used routinely in World War II by both sides. I described how the fighter planes flew in low to gun down the civilians who were trying to escape.

I asked the students to think about how they would feel if they were Picasso and this was taking place in their home country. …

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