CHAPTER ONE LECTURE: Understanding Art
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Objectives for this chapter:
- With training and practice art can be interpreted and understood.
- Artists exhibit originality of thought, a requirement of creativity.
- Art is universal.
But what is Art?
child is an artist.
The problem is how to remain
an artist once he grows
Learning to See
Chapter 1: Understanding Art
Jean-Michel Basquiat, "Dustheads", 1982
A central point
that the authors make clear from the beginning of The Art of Seeing is
that "Art" is many things, depending on who is making it and who
is looking at it. Both the creator and the viewer must use skill and
imagination in their respective approaches to art. Art is an international
language that transcends the ordinary. Given a source of inspiration,
artists can create a meaningful experience, for themselves and others. By
analyzing the various sources, elements, forms, and techniques used to
create art anyone can learn how to see and to appreciate art.
"Girl with Green Eyes", 1908, painting by Henri Matisse
"Toy Story", Computer
Generated Movie, John Lasseter / Lee Unkrich / Ash Brannon
There are many answers to the question "What is Art?" It is
sometimes dependent on the personal experiences of the artist and the
viewer. However, one general statement might be that it is about the
transforming power of creativity. Different cultures have different
definitions of beauty, but all cultures create art. The drive to create
art is difficult to define or explain, even by artists themselves. The
impulse may come from the application of imagination to an idea, and it
may come from something deeper and inexplicable. While training and
practice are necessary to become proficient at making art, it is the
imagination that drives the artistic process and the creative impulse.
Understanding content helps us understand the art. However, that
understanding is not universal, nor is it always fixed in time. Both the
artist's intentions and the viewer's perceptions will be affected by
their respective experiences and knowledge. While we strive to
understand content, it is important to note that art does not have
to have a meaning beyond simply the beauty of the form.
Four Step Sculpture, 1995, by JimJim
"The most potent muse of all
is our inner child"
- Stephen Nachmanovitch
Art in Context is a
great website which has links to hundreds of artists. Browse around to get
a look at a variety of artists and their work.
Check out how the arts
contribute to a well rounded education.
A great journal dealing with art and technology is
Leonardo published by MIT Press.
Visit Judy Chicago's "Dinner
Party", which is a symbolic history of women in Western
civilization designed to teach women's history through a work of art that can convey
the long struggle for freedom and justice. Read Judy Chicago's biography
and take a look at the works that make up the Dinner Party.
Culture Shock! Viewer
(Use this webpage to do your SURVEY #1 assignment. See this in Week #1 of your online classroom.)
Are the Arts dangerous? Issues of censorship and controversy are explored
in this dynamic website.
Artists featured in this site address such perennially divisive topics as race,
religion, politics, sex, and violence. The site is designed so that visitors must make the choice of what
they wish to view, listen to or read, and may opt out of seeing any objectionable
Zelanski/Fisher, THE ART OF SEEING 5/E, copyright 2001.
Electronically reproduced by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper
Saddle River, New Jersey.
Address of this page:
Last updated: August 25th, 2010
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