History of Art I (Arts 105) Instructor: Jessica Walton Day One Discussion Questions

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History of Art I (Arts 105) - Instructor: Jessica Walton
Day One Discussion Questions:

  1. What is your definition of art? Please give at least 5 different examples of art.

  2. What is Art History? How does art history relate to other fields of study? What does it mean to look at a work of art through its historical/political/religious/ social context?

  3. What is an art historian? What is an archaeologist? What is an anthropologist?

  4. What is aesthetics?

  5. What does it mean to give a formal analysis of a work of art?

  6. What does it mean to discuss the composition of a work of art?

  7. What does it mean to discuss the content of a work of art?

  8. What is the difference between the terms Representation, abstract, and non-representational?

  9. What does naturalism and realism mean in art? What is idealism?

  10. What is an artistic medium/media? Please list 5 different examples of artistic media.

  11. What is an artistic style? Please list 5 examples of artistic styles?

  12. What dates are included in the period of 3rd Century CE? What dates are included in the period 3rd Century BCE? What is the difference between 5,000 years ago and 5,000 BCE?

Study Guide - Introduction

  1. How does your book attempt to define art? What is your definition of art?

  2. How does your book attempt to define art history?

  3. What is a formal analysis of a work of art? What are the visual elements?

  4. What is the composition of a work of art?

  5. What is the difference between subject matter and content?

  6. What is a symbol? What is iconography? Can you think of a contemporary iconography?

  7. What is meant by historical and cultural context? How is the study of these essential to understanding a work of art? What other considerations should be taken into account when analyzing a work of art?

Study Guide – Chapter 1 – Prehistoric Art

  1. What is prehistory?

  2. Where and when did modern humans originate? Describe how they eventually spread to other continents. (Either write or make a drawing) Do archaeologists consider this a fact or a theory?

  3. Why did archeologists call this period the Stone Age?  How are dates described in this period?

  4. When and where did humans most likely begin making “art”? What other advancements occurred at this stage of human evolution?

  5. The Lion-Human is a mysterious sculpture. What are some possible and likely explanations for its creation? What human ability is evidenced in this sculpture?

  6. Please describe two female figurines discussed in this chapter (Be sure to notice their date, medium, and dimensions). What do archeologists believe their function to be? What evidence do archaeologists have to help determine meaning/function during prehistory?

  7. Please list several major Upper Paleolithic cave sites described in your book? When and where were they created? What kinds of imagery are found at these sites? Please describe some academic explanations for cave paintings discussed in your text. What do you think the function of Upper Paleolithic cave paintings were to the cultures who made them?

  8. Did the Neolithic period occur simultaneously worldwide? What changes mark the Neolithic period? How did these changes affect the art being made? What technological advancements in media occurred during the Neolithic period?

  9. What are some of the earliest forms of “architecture” described in your text? Please describe the settlement and houses in Catalhoyuk. Why is this site so important?

  10. What are some examples of ceremonial and tomb architecture described in this chapter? What is megalithic architecture? What is the most current archaeological theory of the function of Stonehenge described by your text?

Study Guide – Chapter 2 – Art of the Ancient Near East

  1. What geographical area is part of the ancient Near East? What is meant by the “Fertile Crescent”, “Mesopotamia”, and “Asia Minor”?

  2. How did the first city-states evolve in this area?

  3. Describe the origins of writing in Sumer. What is the world’s first literary epic?

  4. What is a Ziggurat?

  5. How does our understanding of the Great Lyre with Bull’s Head change because of the written history left by the Sumerians? What narratives do the different registers in this work communicate? What function did this object serve?

  6. Describe the Akkadian “Head of a Man”. How is this sculpture thought to represent an ideal? What does your book suggest as the reasoning for the damage to the face?

  7. Describe the Stele of Naram-Sin. What is being depicted here? How does this work emphasize the power of the king?

  8. Describe the Stele of Hammurabi. What is being depicted here? What is the importance of the Code of Hammurabi?

  9. Compare the two Assyrian stone relief carvings on pages 40-41 with the earlier example of relief carving we’ve seen. What new stylistic devices and characteristics are being used here?

  10. How is power conveyed in the Assyrian citadel and Palace Complex of Sargon II, the Neo-Babylonian palace of Nebuchadnezzar II, and the Persian ceremonial complex in Persepolis of Darius and Xerxes?

Study Guide – Chapter 3 – Art of the Ancient Egypt

  1. How did Egypt develop from a Paleolithic to a Neolithic culture to a dynastic civilization? What commonalities does this development have with Mesopotamian development?

  2. Create a timeline for yourself that marks the major periods and developments of the Ancient Egyptian culture. Try and mark the major Mesopotamian and other Near Eastern cultural developments as comparison in your timeline. For instance, when the Egyptians were building the pyramids, what was going on in Mesopotamia, etc?

  3. What are symbols? What is iconography? Describe some Egyptian symbols.

  4. Compare and contrast the Narmer Palette with a Mesopotamian example of the power of a ruler. Compare and contrast the two works. How do Egyptian kings compare to Mesopotamian kings?

  5. What were the Egyptian artistic conventions and the accepted canons of proportion? What kind of perspective system do the Egyptians use? Where have we seen this perspective system before?

  6. Describe the importance of the afterlife to the Egyptians. How is this shown in their architecture and other artistic works?

  7. The Egyptians and Mesopotamians had similar, but different building styles as exemplified by the pyramid and ziggurat. How do the ziggurats of Mesopotamia differ from Egyptian pyramids?

  8. How do Middle Kingdom royal portraits show an awareness of the human condition? Have we seen this in any other examples of art so far this semester?

  9. What building projects initiated by Rameses II rivaled those of the Old Kingdom? How were they different?

  10. What are the Egyptian “Books of the Dead”? What are described in them? What might they reveal about the Egyptian culture?

Study Guide - Chapter 4 – Art of the Ancient Aegean

  1. How did geography affect Aegean civilizations? Describe the role that trade played for the Minoans and Mycenaeans.

  2. What are the three main cultures of the Ancient Aegean? When and where did they live?

  3. Describe two examples of figural works from the Cycladic islands discussed in your text. What could these works tell you about the culture that made them?

  4. How do the ancient Aegean cultures relate to Greek mythology?

  5. Describe the “Palace” Complex at Knossos, Crete.

  6. Describe Minoan wall painting. What painting technique did they use? What can you learn about the Minoan culture from these paintings?

  7. Describe the Minoan “Woman with Snakes”. How do scholars disagree about the purpose of this work? What do you think it represents, and/or what was it used for?

  8. Describe the Citadel at Mycenae.

  9. How did the Mycenaean tomb evolve from the shaft grave to the tholos tomb?

Study Guide - Chapter 5 – Art of Ancient Greece 

1) What are the historical divisions of Greek art, and what prompted the change from one division to the next? Please make a general timeline for yourself with major periods as well as some major works from each period.

2) Your book states the quote “Man is the measure of all things”, from the Greek sages. How are the ideas expressed by this quote reflected in the art of ancient Greece and in the Ancient Greek culture?

 3) What was the function of a temple in ancient Greek society? What did a temple convey visually?

 4) How do ancient Greek depictions of death differ from the ancient Egyptians? What might this indicate about ancient Greek understandings of death and the afterlife?

 5) What characterized Polykleitos’ Canon of Proportions, and how does this Canon change in the Late Classical period and Hellenistic period?

 6) How do the Acropolis and its buildings show Greek pride?

 7) How does Greek sculpture progress from the stiffness of the Archaic to the emotionalism of the Hellenistic?

 8) Greek sculpture has its own special appearance as does Mesopotamian and Egyptian sculpture. How would you compare the sculpture from these different periods? How were the Ancient Greeks influenced by the art of these cultures?

 9) We often invoke Ancient Greece in our modern architecture and arts. Present some examples of this practice.

  1. What are the Elgin marbles? What is the controversy surrounding these? Where do you feel these belong?

Study Guide- Chapter 6- Etruscan and Roman Art

  1. Who were the Etruscans? Compare and contrast Etruscan art and architecture with that of the Ancient Greeks.

  2. Why is it difficult to draw a distinction between early Roman and Etruscan art?

  3. How and when did the Romans form a republic centered in Rome, and what was the structure of this Roman government? What are the major class distinctions in ancient Rome?

  4. Give examples throughout Roman history of works that are primarily idealized or primarily naturalistic (veristic). Please consider as well how certain Roman sculpture reflects both idealized and naturalistic features. Describe some examples of this.

  5. How does Pompeii depict an interesting picture of Roman city life? How was it so well preserved?

  6. How did the Romans commemorate important events, and what are some artistic examples of this?

  7. Describe some examples of propaganda and memorial in the art in ancient Rome.

  8. The Romans built many structures for personal entertainment and commemoration. How would you equate what the Romans built with our structures today?

  9. Roman sculpture and architecture has its own special appearance, as does Greek sculpture and architecture. How would you compare the sculpture and architecture from these two periods?

Study Guide – Chapter 7 – Jewish, Early Christian, and Byzantine Art

  1. Please compare and contrast the beliefs of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which are introduced in your text.

  2. What is Dora-Europos? What early religious artwork is found at this site? How do the works discussed from this site speak to the religious complexities of this town in the 3rd century?

  3. Describe the complex history of the First and Second Temples of Jerusalem. Explain the importance of the land of Canaan to the Jewish people. Where is the land of Canaan?

  4. What is a catacomb? Who used these? Describe early catacomb art.

  5. What are some of the first examples of Christian art? What are syncretic images? Why is this important to understanding early Christian art?

  6. What is a basilica? How did these early Christian architectural buildings borrow from the architecture of ancient Rome?

  7. Describe some examples of Early Christian mosaics. What are the functions of these? Please describe how the mosaic decoration in the Church of San Vitale exemplifies the byzantine sense of pictorial space in art.

  8. What defines Byzantine art? How does Byzantine art’s visual style differ so greatly from that of Classical Greece and Ancient Rome? What function did this serve for Christians?

  9. Describe the Church of Hagia Sophia. How did the church “push building materials to their physical limits, denying the physicality of the building in order to emphasize its spirituality”? What is this building’s long and complex history of use?

  10. What are icons? What are some examples of these listed in your text and why are these so rare?

Note: Please take note of the chart on page 231. This is a very useful chart to refer back to when looking at Christian art.

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