Religious Context

Lesson 1

Why Do We Study the History of Art?

The Introduction in the textbook discusses many of the criteria we use to identify and interpret works of art or artifacts. There are many ways in which an individual can express themselves through the use of materials and even the materials themselves are varied. The creator—artist, sculptor, or architect—provides the theme, or idea, of the piece of art.  What an artist does primarily results from the creator’s personal experience, at home, in school, on the job, or living in a community or society in general.  As discussed in the Starter Kit of the textbook, the way that a person uses the properties of art, composition, balance, line, depth, space, shape, light and color, and texture, are individual expressions.  An artist’s self-confidence might come out with broad brushstrokes or bright colors; an attention to detail might show; or perception of reality might differ.

On this first point—how an individual artist uses technique—please consider these two paintings:

The painting on the left was produced during the European Renaissance by Jacometto Veneziano, Portrait of a Woman, ca. 1485-95.  On the right is by Picasso, Woman in an Armchair, 1909-10. 

Compare the two paintings and identify some of the differences—in an art fundamentals sense—between the two paintings.  Use the methodologies and terms discussed in the Starter Kit and Introduction of the textbook to analyze the artworks.

2) This week’s readings dealt with the art of Jewish, Early Christian, and Islamic communities.

View the video narrated by Islamic art curator Deniz Beyazit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and read the information on the website of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in the supplemental readings for this week

 Since Islam prohibits the use of human figures in religious contexts, what decorative motifs are used instead? Explain how they are used in two specific examples of religious art and architecture.

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