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Lesson Plans

Re: Re: The Importance of Art History

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Fri, 22 Jan 1999 21:37:03 EST

I'm a museum educator with a background as an art historian. I think one of
the primary benefits to including art history in studio art classes is that it
provides a social context for the production of art. It offers answers to the
question why do people make art. Recognizing how art reflects the world
around the artist, not only her personal creativity and expression, leads to a
fuller understanding of how art is relevant to all people's lives--whether as
religious icon, political propaganda, or social commentary. Art history also
adds an interdisciplinary element to the art curriculum which can lead to
wonderful collaborations with teachers in social studies, math/science,
language arts, or other artistic disciplines.

I tend to discount the importance of "masterpieces" in the traditional sense.
While certainly some of the most well-known artists provide great examples of
art's historical role, there are many (particularly women and those from non-
Western cultures) throughout history who are just beginning to be incorporated
into the art historical canon. It seems by bringing in a range of
artists--from Leonardo and Picasso on through Diego Rivera, Artemisia
Gentileschi, or an anonymous artist from the Chola period in India--a
student's awareness of the fullness of art may be enhanced.