This course is an exploration of visual art forms and their cultural connections across historical periods, designed for the student with little experience in the visual arts. It includes brief studies in art history, and in-depth inquiry into the elements, media and methods used in a wide range of creative processes. At the beginning of this course, you will learn a five-step system for developing an understanding of visual art in all forms, based on:

  1. Description: A work of art from an objective point of view – its physical attributes and formal construction.
  2. Analysis: A detailed look at a work of art that combines physical attributes with subjective statements based on the viewer’s reaction to the work.
  3. Context: Historical, religious or environmental information that surrounds a particular work of art and which helps to understand the work’s meaning.
  4. Meaning: A statement of the work’s content. A message or narrative expressed by the subject matter.
  5. Judgment: A critical point of view about a work of art concerning its aesthetic or cultural value.

After completing this course, you will be able to interpret works of art based on this five-step system; explain the processes involved in artistic production; identify the many kinds of issues that artists examine in their work; and explain the role and effect of the visual arts in different social, historical and cultural contexts.

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