· Ask questions about
different viewpoints about the value or meaning of an artwork.
· Identify experts to help you better understand diverse
viewpoints on art.
A viewpoint is the way individuals look at the world because
of their experience. Individuals' viewpoints are affected
by many things, including their age, ethnicity, gender, culture,
education, religion, economic status, political convictions,
and much more.
Below is a list of topics about different
viewpoints on works of art. Lesson Four introduces a variety
of viewpoints on the art of Luis Jiménez.
A. Artist's Intention
B. Art Critic or reviewer's Viewpoint
C. Art Historian's Viewpoint
D. Other Viewpoints ( such as the viewpoint of a patron, community
leaders, general public in your community, or any other interested
Think about different people who might
have different viewpoints about the meaning or value of the
artwork you have selected. With an older artwork you may find
that people today respond quite differently from people of
the time it was made. Or if your artwork has been moved from
one culture to another, opinions may differ dramatically.
For example in the 16th Century Spanish conquistadors didn't
respect ceremonial intentions but valued Incan figures only
for their gold content. So they were melted down to make altars,
jewelry and coins in Spain. In the late 19th Century and early
20th Century European and American explorers collected artifacts
from indigenous people all around the world to display in
natural history museums.
Click to see a listing of exhibits
at the venerable American
Museum of Natural History in New York City, where exhibits
of "African Peoples" and "Asian Peoples"
are listed with exhibits of "Gems and Minerals"
and "Mollusks of the World". Today similar objects
are sometimes exhibited as art in art museums. Click to visit
the Smithsonian's National
Museum of African Art . In recent years some art museums
have stopped showing Native American artworks made for religious
ceremonies because Native Americans complained that they weren't
meant for public display.
Think about questions you might ask
about each topic to help you better understand the artwork
you selected. For example for the first topic:
- Can I find any comments by the artist
about the specific artwork I've selected?
- Can I find comments by the artist
about similar work or a general statement s/he has made
about his/her art?
- If the artist is unknown, what can
I learn in general about craftspeople, artists, or artisans
within the culture or era in which my artwork was made?
Once you have selected a topic (other
than A) to write about in your journal, think about who in
art has knowledge and experience about this topic. Different
art experts understand art in different ways. Click to read
descriptions of what
various art experts do. You can learn a lot from experts
if you ask specific questions about the things they know best.
For example if the artist is available,
you might ask why s/he chose the particular subject matter,
or why s/he organized shapes and colors in a certain way,
or whether s/he has a particular goal in mind. In the case
of a public artwork, you might ask the arts administrator
responsible for the work, whether the artist submitted a proposal-perhaps
even with sketches or diagrams-and whether the arts organization
set any guidelines. For older artworks, you might ask an art
historian whether there is any record of the artist's intentions
or perhaps correspondence between the artist and a patron.
Click to read a letter
from Vincent Van Gogh to his brother, Theo, and to view
the artworks he discusses.
Click to view artworks
by Michelangelo. The Pope commissioned the sculptor to
make figures for his tomb, which was never completed. Correspondence
reveals that the Pope's wishes won out over the sculptor's
intentions, when he insisted that Michelangelo work for years
painting the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, even though the
sculptor preferred to work as a sculptor.
Now think about whether there is someone
outside art who has experience or knowledge about the topic
you selected. Click to read descriptions of what experts
in a variety of disciplines do. The list names only experts
used in this program. Of course there are others, including
psychologists, mechanics, physicians, lawyers, athletes, musicians,
and many more who can bring different perspectives to the
topic Again, you can learn a lot from experts if you ask specific
questions about the things they know best.
For example if you know some biographical
information about the artist, you might ask a sociologist
what educational opportunities, occupations, values, beliefs,
and the like were available for people in the artist's socio-economic
class, subculture, or other identity group. You might ask
an historian about the major political, religious, and economic
beliefs of the culture in which you artwork was made. Such
background information can help you better understand the
context within which the artist's intentions grew.
Choose one of the topics (not A) to
write about in your journal.
Think of a question related to the
topic that you believe an art expert might be able to help
Think of a question related to the topic that you believe
an expert outside art might help you answer.
- The topic I selected (B,C, or D)
- My ideas about the topic
- A specific type of art
expert who might guide my inquiry
- A question related to this topic
for an art expert
- A type of non-art
expert who might guide my inquiry
- A question related to the topic
for a non-art expert
- Any other thoughts I have about
different viewpoints on the meaning and value of the artwork
to Completing My Inquiry Project Assignment