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Jun 7th, 2015
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American Art Project  – Pre-Assignment Instructions

Before beginning this part of the assignment, it is necessary to define what is meant by message and context of a work of art. The message of art is more than just the subject matter of the painting or sculpture. Some works of art may portray one image, but when examined closely it conveys a deeper meaning reflective of the period in which it was created. Click on the following link and look at the artwork presented, then read the description of the figures presented there. As you review the information, think about the following questions: Why would Classical and Renaissance images and themes appear in this type of space? What message was the artist trying to send?

Next, take a look at this resource on The Apotheosis of Washington. ( ) Concentrate primarily on the text from the second column of page 127 to the end. It gives several clues as to why Brumidi created the image in the way he did, including the events of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction. This is what is meant by context.  The events and attitudes surrounding an event.

Both message and context are important when viewing public art, they will help you appreciate more than just the history the artwork represents. When you understand these concepts, you can view our collective past on a deeper level.

Keep this information in mind as you complete this project. The events surrounding the creation and placement of public art say quite a bit about the art itself. Spend some time thinking about this aspect of the assigned paintings as you complete Part I. This assignment is not an art critique. Look for connections between events and images. We’re not looking for you to describe the event the artwork depicts, but the period of American history in which it was created. Use your textbook to place the images in their correct context.

In preparation for the American Art Assignment due next week, you will, in your own words (at least 75 words), define the term “historical context.” Your final assignment will rely heavily on your understanding of this term. You will be scored for this assignment based on your definition of the term and your ability to communicate it clearly.

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(Top Tutor) Fatin Menhaz
School: Duke University

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