Day 1: Technology and Joseph Stella, George Bellows and Jackson Pollock
I’ve organized the cultural context in categories of Technology, Mass Media and Industry, taking one full class block to learn about each category. When presenting the Technology material, supplemental readings can be done within the smaller groups as a collaborative and video can be presented to the entire class (I have just one projector). Photographs can be presented through projection or individual copies as handouts. Manage the time for group work and breaks to watch videos as a class. The Ferris wheel videos I’ve included in this lesson relates mostly to Stella and copies of his work should be on hand for groups as either handouts or projecting the image onto the wall. Before students begin to answer Essential Questions, they should work together to find and list concrete observations and answer a guided question or two. Students will follow up with a handout of Essential Questions that guide them in thinking about how the cultural influences made an impact on Stella’s “
Battle of Lights
”. The same process should follow for George Bellows,
Both Members of This Club
. The “Street Arabs in Their Sleeping Quarters” photograph by Jacob Riis is intended to relate to George Bellows. The aerial views of landscapes are meant to connect with Jackson Pollock, giving perspective to Pollock’s physical relationship to his canvas, influencing the more abstract subject and harmonious style painted in
. The Pollock quote can be analyzed, discussed and related to his own painting as well as Douglas, Stella and Bellows. As more art material is presented to students, let the groups decide on which art they are going to research more deeply with the result of having 2-4 essential questions answered on 1 to 2 works of art. That way, students have more time developing quality inquiries on one or two works of art instead of weaker inquiries made from a greater number of works in such a limited amount of time. It’s helpful to have students pick their top two choices so every group has a back up choice to avoid the possibility of one of the artists not being selected by any of the groups. The lesson is designed for all three artists presented as having been influenced by technology to be explored more deeply by at least one group.
Using the supplemental material to support the methods for teaching students how to look at art objectively, create essential questions that will effectively connect cultural influences to specific art examples that are grounded with support from both resources being connected (the painting and the cultural reference). Essential questions should raise more questions, stimulate inquiry; spark discussion and debate. They demand justification and support and are also flexible to change as understanding deepens.
Groups should narrow down their best answers where they found the most relevant information to form their objective opinion. The recorder should write down best findings. Give another exit slip at the end of class and ask each student to write down their opinion about one work of art that is supported. Read over the slips to check for understanding.
Lesson 2, Day 2: Mass Media-Bellows, Pollock, Rockwell, Warhol
Start class by asking students to look at all four paintings by Bellows, Pollock, Rockwell, and Warhol and ask them to write down what they think all four of these paintings have in common. Call on a couple of students to share their answers. Whether or not any students come up with the connection to Mass Media, segway into the class topic and activity of Mass Media being influential to artists and their art and have students get into groups and begin by sharing the ‘Newboys’ video and
Anchor Man 2
to explore the dissemination and bombardment of information that can tie into all four works of art. Have students get back into their groups to look at Rockwell’s Freedom From Want and using cultural material such as vintage War Bond Posters, Dick and Jane First Readers, and juxtaposing with a photograph of “Nagasaki, Before and After the Atomic Bomb” create a few essential questions that connect Rockwell’s subject to the style he used to depict what was happening in the nation at the time. Play the “He May Be A Communist” and have handouts of vintage Atomic Bomb graphics and merchandise to present how artists were bombarded with fear and anxiety and how did Rockwell’s depictions tie into this era? Supplement information with “About Education” handout that summarizes Pollock and the Abstract Expressionist movement. Have essential questions that engage students to think about the connection critically and promote discussion and feedback. Have groups narrow down the main points and Recorder should document the top two. Conclude the daily lesson in a couple of ways. Either have presenters share their groups discoveries to the class for the last 15 minutes or give more time for cultural analysis and assign each student to write an exit slip in the same format as the previous class, commenting on the topic of Mass Media being influential to the art and the artist.
Lesson 2, Day 3: Industry: Douglas, Stella, Bellows, Warhol
Follow the same format as the previous two classes. Project Douglas with another work of art and have students try and find what the two works of art share in common. Call on students for answers and explain the topic of the day and the materials they will have to find the cultural connections that will help guide them to forming an objective claim or criticism of a selected artists work that is supported with evidence between art and cultural content. Have handouts that comment on the stylized figures from the Art Deco movement during the Great Depression including the relief on the side of the F. Edward Federal Building, the painting of
Employment of the Negro in Agriculture
and show Martha Graham’s “Steps in the Street” for students to compare and contrast to Douglas’s work. Give students time to analyze the figures and insert time for the class to watch a small clip of Steps in the Street. To have students explore the background and symbolism that Douglas references in his painting, run the video on the year 1936, compiled by the deYoung Museum in San Francisco. To connect with Warhol, look on YouTube for interesting vintage Public Service Announcements, as there are plenty, on lifestyle and advertising from the 1940’s and 50’s that can be used as context to learn more about Warhol’s concepts and motivation for
Campbell Soup Cans
. Also, printing photographs of shopping aisles in retail stores of merchandise can help students look at the formal principle of design, repetition, a component that Warhol used to communicate his message about commercialism. Use an excerpt from John F. Kasson’s Amusing the Million to share insight on Stella and his influence for
Battle of Lights
(pages 87-94) and complement with a video clip from Coney Island History, “Let’s Go Coney!”