Discovering Art - Theme

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Part 2 of a three part series on how Form, Theme and Context come together to make meaning in art. Based on the work of Dr. Renee Sandell. Visit the ISB Art History channel (http://vimeo.com/channels/isbarthistorychannel) and my website (http://mountains.brianreverman.com/) for additional resources.

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Discovering Art - Theme

  1. 1. • A work of art is about something. In other words it has a theme. Sometimes it is easy to find the theme and other times the theme may not be so clear. Works of art that hold our interest usually operate on many levels.• THE BIG IDEA – what we can grasp about the human condition• Subject Matter – what the work is about ???• Artist’s Point of View• Visual Sources• References to other areas: art history, other art forms, other humanities or science
  2. 2. THE BIG IDEA –what we can graspabout the humanconditionSubject Matter –what the work isabout ???Artist’s Point ofViewVisual SourcesReferences to otherareas: art history,other art forms,other humanities orsciences Jacques Louis David, Death of Socrates, 1787
  3. 3. That the Greek ideals of democracy and “truth”THE BIG IDEA –what we can grasp should be the guiding principles of man (and in thisabout the human case the French Republic).conditionSubject Matter –what the work isabout ???Artist’s Point ofViewVisual SourcesReferences to otherareas: art history,other art forms,other humanities orsciences Jacques Louis David, Death of Socrates, 1787
  4. 4. THE BIG IDEA –what we can graspabout the humanconditionSubject Matter –what the work is The story of the Death of Socratesabout ???Artist’s Point ofViewVisual SourcesReferences to otherareas: art history,other art forms,other humanities orsciences Jacques Louis David, Death of Socrates, 1787
  5. 5. THE BIG IDEA –what we can graspabout the humanconditionSubject Matter –what the work isabout ???Artist’s Point of David clearly finds these ideals noble and opposesView the tyranny of King Louis’ regimeVisual SourcesReferences to otherareas: art history,other art forms,other humanities orsciences Jacques Louis David, Death of Socrates, 1787
  6. 6. THE BIG IDEA –what we can graspabout the humanconditionSubject Matter –what the work isabout ???Artist’s Point ofViewVisual Sources David revives the style of Classical Rome (he had studied there). His style is called “Neo-Classical”References to otherareas: art history,other art forms,other humanities orsciences Jacques Louis David, Death of Socrates, 1787
  7. 7. THE BIG IDEA –what we can graspabout the humanconditionSubject Matter –what the work isabout ???Artist’s Point ofViewVisual SourcesReferences to otherareas: art history, Reference is made to the story of Socrates’ death inother art forms, ancient Greeceother humanities orsciences Jacques Louis David, Death of Socrates, 1787
  8. 8. THE BIG IDEA –what we can graspabout the humanconditionSubject Matter –what the work isabout ???Artist’s Point ofViewVisual SourcesReferences to otherareas: art history,other art forms,other humanities orsciences Piet Mondrian, Composition in White, Red, Yellow and Blue, 1918
  9. 9. THE BIG IDEA – That a spiritual harmony and order can be represented in artwhat we can graspabout the human through purely abstract meansconditionSubject Matter –what the work isabout ???Artist’s Point ofViewVisual SourcesReferences to otherareas: art history,other art forms,other humanities orsciences Piet Mondrian, Composition in White, Red, Yellow and Blue, 1918
  10. 10. THE BIG IDEA –what we can graspabout the humanconditionSubject Matter – Squares and lines using only primary colors and black andwhat the work isabout ??? whiteArtist’s Point ofViewVisual SourcesReferences to otherareas: art history,other art forms,other humanities orsciences Piet Mondrian, Composition in White, Red, Yellow and Blue, 1918
  11. 11. THE BIG IDEA –what we can graspabout the humanconditionSubject Matter –what the work isabout ???Artist’s Point of That abstraction could lead to a higher understanding ofView spiritualityVisual SourcesReferences to otherareas: art history,other art forms,other humanities orsciences Piet Mondrian, Composition in White, Red, Yellow and Blue, 1918
  12. 12. THE BIG IDEA –what we can graspabout the humanconditionSubject Matter –what the work isabout ???Artist’s Point ofView He was influenced by his friend Bart van der Leck who usedVisual Sources only primary colors and the innovative art being done inReferences to other Paris, especially Picasso and Braque’s cubismareas: art history,other art forms,other humanities orsciences Piet Mondrian, Composition in White, Red, Yellow and Blue, 1918
  13. 13. THE BIG IDEA –what we can graspabout the humanconditionSubject Matter –what the work isabout ???Artist’s Point ofViewVisual SourcesReferences to otherareas: art history, He was influenced by the Theosophical idea that one couldother art forms, gain a deeper spiritual knowledge beyond natureother humanities orsciences Piet Mondrian, Composition in White, Red, Yellow and Blue, 1918
  14. 14. THE BIG IDEA –what we can graspabout the humanconditionSubject Matter –what the work isabout ???Artist’s Point ofViewVisual SourcesReferences to otherareas: art history,other art forms,other humanities orsciences Chris Burden, Transfixed, 1974
  15. 15. THE BIG IDEA – That by using his own body in the artwork there is a morewhat we can graspabout the human authentic relationship between art and life.conditionSubject Matter –what the work isabout ???Artist’s Point ofViewVisual SourcesReferences to otherareas: art history,other art forms,other humanities orsciences Chris Burden, Transfixed, 1974
  16. 16. THE BIG IDEA –what we can graspabout the humanconditionSubject Matter –what the work is A man crucified to a Volkswagen carabout ???Artist’s Point ofViewVisual SourcesReferences to otherareas: art history,other art forms,other humanities orsciences Chris Burden, Transfixed, 1974
  17. 17. THE BIG IDEA –what we can graspabout the humanconditionSubject Matter –what the work isabout ???Artist’s Point ofView Our faith in symbols needs to be questionedVisual SourcesReferences to otherareas: art history,other art forms,other humanities orsciences Chris Burden, Transfixed, 1974
  18. 18. THE BIG IDEA –what we can graspabout the humanconditionSubject Matter –what the work isabout ???Artist’s Point ofViewVisual Sources Contemporary machinery – the carReferences to otherareas: art history,other art forms,other humanities orsciences Chris Burden, Transfixed, 1974
  19. 19. THE BIG IDEA –what we can graspabout the humanconditionSubject Matter –what the work isabout ???Artist’s Point ofViewVisual SourcesReferences to otherareas: art history, The Crucifixion is a recurring subject matter in both art andother art forms, Christian religious texts. It also was a Roman punishmentother humanities orsciences for those seen as criminals Chris Burden, Transfixed, 1974
  20. 20. Click on the link below to listen to a short discussion about these paintings. Then return here and comment on the Theme of these paintings addressing each criteria on the left of the slide.THE BIG IDEA –what we can graspabout the humanconditionSubject Matter –what the work isabout ???Artist’s Point ofViewVisual SourcesReferences to otherareas: art history,other art forms,other humanities orsciences Claude Monet, Rouen Cathedral (two of the more than 30 paintings Monet did of this cathedral)

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