Art and Visual Culture

"Art and Visual Culture" expresses its key focus in its title; it is a course about art, but not only standard art, it also includes aspects of visual culture.Culture has many definitions listed in Encarta Dictionary, one of which is the set of shared beliefs, customs, and attitudes of a group of people."Art and Visual Culture" aims to use cultural information to study the roles art plays in reflecting and shaping the societies in which it is created.This endeavor requires the study of basic art history from ancient times to the present.Throughout art history there are dominant themes that this course examines, the most prominent are gender roles, stereotyping, and censorship.A key goal of the class is to form personal opinions on issues that art history scholars debate today.Readings done from a variety of sources provide the material to formulate opinions with both sides of the issue represented.Before these complex issues can be discussed, a primary knowledge of a working vocabulary is needed, which learning how to look at art provides.
Thefirst skill developed in the class is viewing art.This includes the formal analysis of paintings, architecture, and sculpture.The formal elements of art include composition, color, lighting, texture, line, and illusionistic space.The study of sculpture also includes other topics that involve the techniques used, the form, the relationship with space, and scale.Another aspect of looking at art is the representational elements.They concern the subject matter and the expressive content of the work, including poses, actions, and emotions.Iconography is part of representational study that searches for conventional meanings.One work studied intensely on this topic is Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Marriage.Readings from two art critics reveal that there are different iconographic interpretations of this work.Erwin Panofsky in Early Netherlandish Pa…


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