Better Know an Artist, 3rd Quarter

One of the challenges of this class is giving you a good sense of who these artists are.  Sometimes we are restricted to studying a single piece, which does not give you a good sense of what they did, what they were about, and what they brought to the art world.

To address this, we are going to have you do a mini-research project on a selected artist. By answering some specific questions and doing an analysis of one of their works, it is my hope that you will get a better sense of one of these artists.

You will need to choose an artist from the list below.  Once you have made your selection, you will need to provide the following information on your artist:

  1. Biographical information:  When was the artist born, and when did he or she die?  Were they married or single?  Did they suffer some kind of tragic illness or addiction?  Were they always artists or only began working late in life?  Were they formally trained or self-taught?  Try to keep this brief and only mention the aspects of their life that seem to have a bearing on their artwork (ex: your artist was a woman who in turn produced a lot of pro-feminist art work).
  1. Art Movement:  What art movement(s) did they belong to, or create?  Additionally describe the characteristics of this art movement, and how these characteristics can be seen in the artist’s work.
  1. Personal Artistic Style:  This is about personal style as opposed to the art movement.  What are the visual characteristics of how your artist works?  Do they have a particular way of applying paint, certain colors they favor, or a subject matter they always use?  What are the hallmarks of how they paint/draw/sculpt/etc. by which you could always recognize their work.
  1. Select an iconic work, and critique it:  Select one work of art by your artist that embodies his or her style.  This is often a work that he or she is most famous for or that is considered their best work.  This must also be a work that we have not discussed in class.  Once you have selected the work, do a formal critique of the image.  Your critique may tie in information that you discovered in the previous steps.
  1. Provide additional artwork samples:  Include an additional 3-4 images as examples of the artist’s work.  Each single image should be around the size of   2” x 3”.  The works should be representative of the style of artwork your artist is most famous for.

As a general guideline, the entire project should not take more than two to three pages, not including the sample artwork.

List of Artists to Choose From:
These artists come from the Baroque Period, Enlightenment, and the late 19th century.  You may wish to take a look at artwork done by these artists before you select one.

  • Diego Velazquez
  • Peter Paul Rubens
  • Jan Vermeer
  • Francisco Goya
  • William Hogarth
  • Gainsborough
  • Joseph Turner
  • Thomas Cole
  • Gustave Courbet
  • Claude Monet
  • Edgar Degas
  • Georges Seurat
  • Henri Toulouse-Lautrec
  • Auguste Rodin
  • Edvard Munch
  • Louis Sullivan

Due Date

The project is due Monday, March 7th, by 11:00 p.m.  This assignment is two formative grades:

  • 1 formative for the biographical information and additional images.
  • 1 formative grade for the critique.

Ways to Turn in Your Assignment

  • Email.
  • Portable drive.
  • Dropbox.  This is a fantastic file sharing service that is free.  A few of you use this already.  If you are interested, I would be glad to help you get started.
  • Another file-sharing service similar to Dropbox.  It can be any service that you like, but it needs to be something you can share with me via a link and does not require me to have an account or sign in.
  • Or physical copy, if there is no viable alternative.  I prefer this digitally, but getting your work is the most important thing.  But just know, if your projects has feathers or glitter, I will deduct 1,000,000 points.

The following is provided as an example of the format I wish for you to follow on your “Better Know an Artist” assignment.

Wayne Thiebaud

Biographical information:
Wayne Thiebaud is a contemporary artist.  He was born in 1920 and raised in Long Beach, California.  Thiebaud began as a struggling graphic artist as he worked on his Masters of Art and teaching credentials.  During the 1950’s Thiebaud’s career as a fine artist really took off and he began to land a series of one-man shows.  He continues to paint today, and teaches at the University of California. His deep ties to California manifest in his artwork, where the impact of the rolling hills and strong light of the west coast become apparent.

Art Movement:
Thiebaud does not fit easily into any one art movement.  His early work is often called Pop Art, an artistic movement that was predominately fascinated with advertising and graphic art images.  While Thiebaud’s paintings do borrow some of the same visual language as advertising art, he did not seem to have the same fixation on American popular culture as, say Andy Warhol.  Additionally, his later landscape paintings look as bold and colorful as his earlier work, but landscape has never been a Pop Art subject.  He seems to fall into a category of his own.

Thiebaud has a very recognizable style.  He uses thick applications of paint to build up a rich surface.  The paint is applied like butter to the canvas, and brush strokes are readily visible.  He uses very strong eye-catching colors and shadows, elements that some have compared to advertising art techniques.  On close examination, he likes to intensify the “pop” of colors by including bold touches, like bursts of red along a shadow.  Much of his early work is based on repetition of objects like pies or pinball machines.  Much of his later works are cityscapes or landscapes.


5.  Additional artwork samples:

 Thiebaud, PiesThiebaud, Three MachinesThiebaud, Flatland River

This entry was posted in Art History, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.