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This non-objective art lesson shows how history influences art and how art illustrates nouns


Art, Language Arts, Social Studies  


5, 6, 7, 8  

Title – Non-Objective Art
By – Paula Hrbacek
Primary Subject – Art
Secondary Subjects – Language Arts, Social Studies
Grade Level – 5 to 8 

Objective: The students will understand how art is influenced by current events. The students will use their knowledge about nouns to create a work of art.

Materials: Your choice.

Lecture: Art is influenced by the events that are going on at that time. In the 1970’s, at the same time as Martin Luther King Jr., the Black Panthers, and the equal rights movement for women, there was another change going on. The curriculum for the public schools was changed. New Math was introduced. Schools experimented with workstations and open classrooms. Paddling was done away with.

Another change was made by the English teachers. At that time, a noun was defined as a “person, place or thing”. Grammarians argued that this definition was not complete because it did not include things like emotions, desires and thoughts. If you can put the word “the” in front of it, it is a noun. So, the definition was changed to “a person, place, thing or idea”.

Artists thought about this issue, and asked themselves “how do you paint an idea?” If you paint a person, that is a portrait. If you paint a place, that is a landscape. If you paint a thing, that is a still life.

The first painting to capture an emotion at a masterpiece level (masterpiece is like the hall of fame; it’s the best of the best) was “The Scream”. The reason it is a masterpiece is because the artist used counter-clockwise eye movement to create an uneasy feeling in the viewer. Our society is organized in a clockwise manner. When we look at the clock, we go clockwise. When we come to a four-way stop, we go clockwise. When we deal cards, or pass the potatoes, we go clockwise. This painting makes your eyes move counter-clockwise, and although the movement isn’t big enough for you to feel, it creates a feeling that something is wrong, but you don’t know what.

Well, no matter how good you are at anything, someone will always have something to say about it. Other artists looked at this painting, and noted that it still had a person, and a place. If there are four different types of nouns, then there must be four different types of art to go with it.

This was the beginning of non-objective art. This movement used paint in a new way, without painting any objects of any kind. The idea is to capture an emotion or idea through the brush strokes and use of color.

Think of an emotion or idea, and try to capture that feeling without using any objects. Write the emotion or idea on the back of the sheet for your assessment.

E-Mail Paula Hrbacek !

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