Understanding Art 1: Western Art

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This course introduces you to the development of western art from Ancient Greece to the present day. You are encouraged to respond to art not only by writing about it but also by means of sketches, diagrams or photographs. This helps you to absorb works of art more fully, to analyse them and to place them in context. You will develop confidence and ability in analysing works of art, understand broadly the cultural and historical context of art, and learn about accepted theories and practices in art.

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<p>C us sm l or a p e e</p> <p>Understanding Art 1: Western ArtWritten by: Joseph Darracott</p> <p> Open College of the Arts</p> <p>1</p> <p>Open College of the Arts Michael Young Arts Centre Redbrook Business Park Wilthorpe Road Barnsley S75 1JN Telephone: 0800 731 2116 E-mail: enquiries@oca-uk.com www.oca-uk.com Registered charity number: 327446 ISBN 1 872147 80 1 Copyright OCA 1991; revised 1998; 1999; 2005; 2006 Document Control Number: UA1uwa_121108.doc No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means - electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without prior permission of the publisher (Open College of the Arts) OCA is a company limited by guarantee and registered in England under number 2125674. Registered Office, Open College of the Arts, Michael Young Arts Centre, Unit 1B, Redbrook Business Park, Wilthorpe Road, Barnsley, S75 1JN, United KingdomCover picture: Still Life with Beer Mug, 1921. Fernand Lger, oil on canvas, 91 x 60cm. The Tate Gallery, London DACS 1991 Back picture: The Return from Egypt III, 1993. Michael Kenny, mixed media on paper, 112 x 1153cm. After Poussins Flight into Egypt. A work done during residency at Dulwich Picture Gallery, and an example of a creative variant mentioned in Assignment 4 Part One. Joseph Darracott, author of this and second level art history courses for OCA, died in March 1998, aged 64.</p> <p> Open College of the Arts</p> <p>2</p> <p>ContentsYou and your courseWelcome to Understanding Art 1: Western Art What the pack contains How this course is organised Reading and viewing Visiting Annotation How to start the annotation Collecting Projects and assignments Your tutor Finding time Additional materials Books Sources of materials A course calendar On completing the course</p> <p>1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6:</p> <p>Introduction ReligionAssignment 1</p> <p>Myth HistoryAssignment 2</p> <p>Symbol Still lifeAssignment 3 part 1 Assignment 3 part 2</p> <p>7:</p> <p>Portraits</p> <p> Open College of the Arts</p> <p>3</p> <p>8:</p> <p>The figureAssignment 4 - part 1 Assignment 4 - part 2</p> <p>9: 10:</p> <p>The interior LandscapeAssignment 5</p> <p>Completing the course ... and going further If you want to read more Appendix A: if you plan to submit your work for formal assessment</p> <p> Open College of the Arts</p> <p>4</p> <p>You and your course</p> <p>Welcome to Understanding Art 1: Western ArtSince OCA began we have been developing practical courses in the arts in which students learn mainly by themselves at home but take advantage of regular support from professional tutors. To begin with, courses concentrated on helping students to develop their own artistic abilities. But as OCA grew, many students and potential students told us that they would appreciate a course in art history. For some this might be as a supplement to work they are already doing or have done with OCA in a practical subject; for others this might be their first contact with the college. This course was our response to these requests. But before you go further please check the contents of the course pack you will have received against the included Course Contents sheet.</p> <p>How this course is organisedAny art history course obviously has to provide a collection of illustrative material for students to consider and this course is no different, using both the videos of the television programmes and the book A World History of Art. In addition, any good teacher in a local college would alert students to other opportunities to see works of art in nearby galleries and other buildings. We clearly can't do this, as our students live not just all over the British Isles but overseas as well. What we hope we can do instead is get you into the habit of using intensively what local resources there are, reading widely outside the course materials and making a point of using any journeys you may have to make for holidays or business to see something new. Obviously if you can visit large cities there will be plenty of exciting things to see, but there are no end of pleasures for the trained eye almost anywhere and some treats such as</p> <p> Open College of the Arts</p> <p>5</p> <p>sculpture parks, fine churches and large houses are as likely to be found in the country as the city. After providing you with a wide range of materials and suggestions for visits we could simply have asked you to write a series of essays on various aspects of art history, ignoring what artistic skills you may already have. Instead we have tried, wherever possible, to involve you in practical activities that do indeed include some writing but a lot more besides to help focus your attention on individual works of art. We shall be interested to hear from you what you think about this approach, and indeed suggestions for additional activities if you wish to make them. This course is not a conventional book on art history; it is a guide book, firstly to help you use fully both the videos and selected chapters of A World History of Art, and secondly to expand your interests in and enjoyment of art as widely as possible. The first half takes you through the history of Western art chronologically; about half of A World History of Art is allocated for reading. The second half takes a more analytic approach, discussing major themes of art; your textbook will continue to be useful. It is desirable to work on the first half in the order in which they come, but you may find that elements from the second half could be dealt with in a different order if your visiting programme (see below) cannot fit exactly into the order of the course. But make sure that the Assignments for your tutor are submitted in the right order. As you set out on your journey, the course can look like a huge mountain to climb, but do not despair. There is a lot of work to do, but the best way of tackling it could be to think of the five Assignments as five separate plateaux to be reached.</p> <p>Reading and viewingThere is Suggested additional reading at the beginning of each section. Fuller bibliographic details of books mentioned there are given in the booklist later in You and your course. We hope that you will be able to locate and read (or 6</p> <p> Open College of the Arts</p> <p>even browse through) some of the books recommended - perhaps ten or so during the course itself - but remember that you can read further, using the book suggestions, after the end of the course if you are pressed for time, or books are not immediately available. After the reading recommendations, each section is divided into three Units. We hope that you might be able to complete each unit in about a week (six or seven hours work), although there is no compulsion to do so. We shall have more to say about time later. But you do not have to wait until you have completed all the activities in any one unit before you go on to the next if there is something such as a visit or getting a particular book from the library which is holding you up. Each unit begins with To view and To read; these list programmes from the video and chapters from A World History of Art. Each programme lasts just under half an hour. There then follows a brief discussion of what you will view and read. Do read the discussion both before and after viewing the programmes and reading chapters of A World History of Art. Our aim is to help you develop the habit of intensive and purposeful looking.</p> <p> Open College of the Arts</p> <p>7</p> <p>VisitingIn some units there is a heading To visit. You are asked to make ten visits during the course. We suggest that you skim through this course book during the first week of study; one of the practical things that you can do during this time is to start to plan your visits. To help you we have summarised the visits in the Calendar at the end of this introduction. One visit has to be made as specified in Unit 12, because it links up with Assignment 2. All the other visits are more flexible and there is always an alternative plan when a visit proves impossible for you to fit in. But try and make the visit at some time during the course, and if need be do a little juggling of the order of the units in order to take advantage of visits. Most important of all, seize any opportunity, at whatever stage in the course, to make the more demanding visits. If you live in an isolated area and go to London, say, just once a year, don't pass up a visit to a cast gallery, for example, because you have not yet reached that stage in your course!</p> <p>AnnotationEvery unit has a paragraph To annotate. You will see that you need a picture for each of the annotation exercises. The very best plan is for you to visit local galleries to find appropriate works. You can make notes in the gallery if you like and take home postcards. At home you can then start the annotation, writing round the postcard or sketch; your next visit to the gallery should include looking again at the work you choose. If you live far from a gallery, or the gallery can't provide what you need, don't worry. Two alternative suggestions are listed in each unit. The first suggestion is that you use a postcard you already have, or that you buy one, perhaps the suggestion (these choices are from national collections, where postcards are almost always available). The second suggestion is that you use illustrations from A World History of Art, either by photocopy or tracing. The course stresses careful looking, so your preference will be to see an original work against which you can measure a reproduction. However good Open College of the Arts</p> <p>8</p> <p>a postcard may be, it cannot capture the presence of the original, and not just in inaccuracies of colour reproduction. But you are unlikely to be able to see an appropriate original work each week, so the suggested cards will help you to keep a rhythm going through the course. And all the suggested cards are naturally relevant to your studying; you might decide to order the cards anyway as part of your visual resources.</p> <p>How to start the annotationTake an A4 sheet of paper; write at the top the information given on the back of the card or in the caption to the picture; stick down your card, above centre; draw a line across the bottom of the sheet.</p> <p>Notes around the card: appreciative comments, highlighting why you chose the card comments about the card itself, for example the accuracy of the colours, whether only part of the picture is shown, or what view of a sculpture is seen observations about the elements used in the painting/ sculpture/building, such as: lines - thick, thin etc tones - dark, light, grey etc textures - coarse, smooth etc colours - bright, dull etc space - deep, shallow etc shapes - square, round etc observations about how these elements are organised within the painting/sculpture/building: to what extent is each element necessary? how is the sense of unity maintained? how is variety in this unity achieved? do some elements dominate? are there main stresses, eg dominant shapes or colours? is there a main rhythm or repetitive element?</p> <p> Open College of the Arts</p> <p>9</p> <p>observations about marks (painters sometimes describe all activities of drawing and painting as making marks) observations about technique observations about materials, which make crucial differences in art, but more especially sculpture and architecture notes about information communicated by the artist - subject, narrative, people or places represented, period detail, mood notes about the success of the image, its representational skill, whether it tells its story well (if a narrative), or how its presence impresses you.</p> <p>An example of a tonal study</p> <p>Sketches around the card: analytical notes, that is things you can describe visually: linear, tonal, compositional, geometric, technical.</p> <p> Open College of the Arts</p> <p>10</p> <p>Sample annotationOther examples of students annotations are at the back of this course.</p> <p> Open College of the Arts</p> <p>11</p> <p>Notes and queries:You will by now have noted things you can see from the card; but you will also have some questions which cannot be answered by just looking. The space below the line is for memoranda to yourself. Who is the sitter in the portrait? Why was the statue commissioned? Where were the pictures displayed? How does the picture compare with other works by the same artist? Does some object represented have a special meaning? What is the history of the work? To answer such questions may lead you to a general survey, a monograph, a biography or a catalogue.</p> <p>Particular observations:Here is a checklist of some things to consider. They are arranged under the five headings discussed in the second part of the course, but can apply to annotations you do from the very beginning. still life: making a list of objects, objects skilfully represented as seen,</p> <p>objects in a still life painting with symbolic meaning</p> <p> Open College of the Arts</p> <p>12</p> <p>portrait:</p> <p>face, head image, personality, hands, clothes, objects or</p> <p>items which tell you about the sitter (called attributes), whether the portrait has a symbolic purpose figure: anatomy, ideal figures, sources in classical art, realism, relations between figures, gesture, gender, symbolism, eroticism interior: figures and settings, pictures telling a story, does the interior reflect the power or position of the owner, evidence of works of art collected landscape: subjects. locality, photographic evidence, comparisons, is the landscape as it was seen, is it altered or idealised, informality in</p> <p>Examples:We have done a few sample annotations in the course book, not to be copied slavishly but just to give you an idea of what you might wish to do. Some students find during the course that they enjoy extending this exercise. You can use a larger sheet of paper, A3 for example, or link several A4 sheets together. A large sheet of plain paper is an asset if you are making sketches or diagrams. Or you could experiment with a tracing overlay, through which to demonstrate some feature of a painting.</p> <p>CollectingAfter the annotation you will find that each unit has a section To collect. In addition to what you will be collecting for the annotation you should aim to collect about half a dozen postcards for each unit to help broaden your interests. Postcards, despite their shortcomings mentioned above, are a flexible way of observing comparisons and contrasts; it is easier to spread out cards than to look at illustrations in different books. But keep an open mind; an illustrated booklet on some topic could be excellent value. If you keep up with the suggestions you will end up with a collection of about two hundred cards, fairly well spread out in themes and periods but short on architecture. But the choice is yours not ours; it should reflect your particular Open College of the Arts</p> <p>13</p> <p>tastes and be useful to you. As with all activities on this course, planning ahead is very important if you are going to have the right cards at the right time.</p> <p>Projects and...</p>