Monday, November 7, 2011

A Timely Update

The visual timeline above my board is growing each week. My art history class is now in Byzantium, so we need a few more images, but the timeline is fairly full through Constantine. It has been fun to refer back to the timeline during class lectures. Just today, after looking at Justinian portrayed as semi-divine in the mosaic from San Vitale, I asked if they could remember any other examples from art history where the ruler is portrayed as god-like. To encourage their responses, I pointed them back to the timeline (Palette of Naram-Sin, for example, is on the timeline).

I haven't used it much with my elementary students, though some images from Art is... were the first to populate the line. Still, it seems that my students are noticing the artwork. Last week, during a 5th grade discussion of facial proportions (and later, distortions), one student pointed to the timeline and asked me why the older work was more realistic, more accurate, than the later work (verism vs. the head of Constantine). A great question, and perfect as we looked at the work of Amadeo Modigliani. Why do artists draw things in an unrealistic manner? Is it that they are less skillful? Is it that people back then really looked like that? Or is there something else going on...

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