November 6, 2020

Artist Research

Author: Ms. Isabel Figueroa - English as An Additional Language (EAL) Specialist

Talk to any of Mr. Bill Vaughn’s Grade 10 Visual Art students, and you embark on an international journey through art history. Students are deep into their research of artists from the Baroque through Contemporary movements. Engagement began with the selection of an artist, and the identification of reliable sources. Students collected information about their artist’s early artwork, most famous artwork, and involvement in any major art movements. Currently, students are analyzing the subject matter and style of particular works of art. Let’s take a look at some of the student projects!

Secondary Visual Arts Classroom

Tom

When it came time to choose an artist to study, Tom immediately thought of the Pop Art in his wardrobe. He owns a Uniqlo t-shirt that sports an image of Andy Warhol’s Statue of Liberty painting. For his project, however, Tom is focusing on a more common subject - soup cans. He found Andy Warhol’s 1962 painting, Campbell’s Soup Cans, interesting because the subject matter is so ordinary. The soup cans reflect Warhol’s desire to make art relatable for a larger audience, not just an elite group.

Warhol, Andy. Campbell’s Soup Cans. 1962. Museum of Modern Art,
https://www.moma.org/collection/works/79809

Maria

Maria wondered which artist she would like to explore, and remembered a Vietnamese television show she had watched about interior design. One episode featured a space that included the 1984 piece, Grillo, by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Maria decided to learn more about what she had seen. Basquiat’s Puerto Rican and Haitian heritage greatly influenced his work, and Maria’s analysis of the two crowned figures in Grillo has taken her on a cultural expedition from the Caribbean to Africa.

Basquiat, Jean-Michel. Grillo. 1984. Private Collection. Fondationlouisvuitton.fr,
https://www.fondationlouisvuitton.fr/en/collection/artworks/grillo

Minh

Minh is analyzing the 1849 Gustave Courbet painting, The Stone Breakers, which brings attention to the real lives of the lower class. The painting depicts a young man and an older man breaking rocks. Minh is looking for meaning in every detail of the subject matter, examining the positions, clothes, skin, and actions of the two men. From these aspects, Minh is gaining information such as the figures’ socioeconomic status, age, and experience.

Courbet, Gustave. The Stone Breakers. 1849. Destroyed. Smarthistory.org,
https://smarthistory.org/courbet-the-stonebreakers/

Julia

Impressionist art has long appealed to Julia. For her research project, French Impressionism artist Claude Monet was a natural choice. Julia explains that when Monet started painting, the Parisian Académie des Beaux-Arts dictated the rules of art. Monet broke the traditional expectations, and his art was rejected from the Academy’s exhibitions. For Julia’s style analysis, she is considering Monet’s 1875 Woman with a Parasol. The painting exhibits Monet’s preference for a typical scene of daily life, painted outside, or “en plein air.” The light and dark values on the woman’s dress, and on the grass, portray the natural three-dimensionality in the figures and environment, Julia explains. Monet creates movement in the painting, and shows that the scene is windy, through the use of short brush strokes.

Monet, Claude. Woman with a Parasol. 1875. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Nga.gov, https://images.nga.gov/en/search/do_quick_search.html?q=woman+with+a+parasol

The artist research projects will conclude with a comparative analysis and a personal reflection. The comparative analysis allows students to consider another work by their chosen artist in relation to the piece of a different artist. Students will analyze similarities and differences regarding subject matter, style, and technique. The personal reflection gives students the opportunity to share their personal responses to the artists and works that they studied, as well as their own learning process. Talk to one of Mr. Bill’s Grade 10 students, and you may leave the conversation with more confidence to be different, and with a new appreciation for daily life.

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