Critical Viewing

Unit 1: Fiction
Finding a Place in the World
Class Discussion
 What is art?
Are paintings in museums art?
What about street performances?
 Would you consider a sculpture art if it
was created by a world-famous sculptor?
• What if your classmate created it?
Class Discussion (cont.)
 What is the difference between good art
and bad?
 What makes a work of art interesting?
• Is it the subject matter?
• Is it how well the artist uses their media?
 What else might it be?
What Makes Art Work?
• Art appreciation is a personal matter.
• You may not appreciate a work of art that
others do, and vice versa.
• Art contains many elements that determine
how it appears to the audience.
• Perhaps one of the most noticeable
elements is a work’s composition.
• In art, the word composition refers to the
arrangement of forms within the work.
• Composition can be stable or dynamic.
• Forms within a composition can create
positive and negative space.
• Most people prefer certain compositions
over others.
Stable Compositions
• In a stable composition, there is little
tension, the forms are balanced, and there
is little visual movement.
Dynamic Compositions
• A dynamic composition creates tension
and movement, and the forms may not be
• Note the positive and negative spaces.
Negative Space
Positive Space
Stable versus Dynamic
 Look at the following works of art.
 Determine whether they are dynamic or
stable compositions.
Isaac Royall and His Family, 1741. Robert Feke.
Oil on canvas.
St. George and the Dragon, 1505.
St. Michael, 1665–1666.
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.
Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1:
Portrait of the Artist’s Mother, 1871.
James Abbot McNeill Whistler.
View the Art
• You may recognize the work of art on the
next slide.
• It is one of the world’s best-known
• Try to determine if the composition is
stable or dynamic.
Mona Lisa, c. 1503–1506.
Leonardo da Vinci.
Oil paint on wood.
Refer to the Art
• Note that the main figure is motionless and
the painting is free of tension.
• The painting is well balanced and almost
• This painting has a stable composition.
About the Art
• The woman in Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait
is unknown.
• Scholars have argued about whether she is
a real person or an ideal created by
Leonardo’s imagination.
• The Mona Lisa embodies the European
notion of a masterpiece—a work of art
that transcends all others.
About the Artist
• Leonardo da Vinci is considered to be one
of the great geniuses of the Renaissance.
• The Renaissance was a period in European
history that saw a flourishing of the arts
and sciences.
• In addition to art, Leonardo studied
anatomy, biology, geology,
and physics.
About the Artist (cont.)
• Leonardo believed that it was important to
record his thoughts and studies.
• Because of this, today we have detailed
records of his observations and ideas.
Recall the Theme
 How might the concept of a masterpiece
be related to the Unit 1 theme of “Finding
a Place in the World”?
 What place has Leonardo da Vinci found
in the world?
 How about the Mona Lisa?
Classroom Discussion
 Discuss the style of composition you
prefer and explain why.
 Discuss what you believe to be the
definition of “art.”
Extension Activities
• Find a variety of images and identify the
composition of each.
• Find examples of artwork you particularly
enjoy and others that you do not.