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On page 55 of your text, (section 2.3) there is a brief guideline on how to “Discover How to Approach a Difficult Work of Art.”  The suggestion is to follow the strategies that the book suggests (ACCEPTANCE, UNDERSTANDING, KNOWLEDGE). 

The book gives us a lot of language and resources to begin to accept, understand and know about works of art. The first 2 chapters of Art Matters help you to categorize visual art and begin to understand where it fits into society and what it means. Our text has grouped the purposes of art into 6 different categories in chapter 1 (p: 21)

Religion and spirituality

Politics and the social order

Recording and communicating information



Social action

In chapter 2, it goes a little deeper and describes some common themes in art (p. 56):

  • Power, servitude, and ambition
  • The divine, sacred spaces, and prayers
  • War, death, and remembrance
  • Love, birth, and growing up
  • Wildlife, the land and the environment
  • Work, play, and relaxation

Art, the artist, and the inner mind

Suffering, health, and survival

  • Identity, discrimination, and social ties
  • Chapter 2 also discusses a variety of ways that we can define what art is. There are benefits and problems to each perspective. They are (beginning on p. 38):
  • Art as a Physical Object Made from Artistic Materials
  • Art as an Aesthetic Experience
  • Art as an Object of Value
  • Art as Part of the Canon
  • Art as a Work Crafted with Skill
  • Art as a Work That Has Meaning
  • Art as a Creative Work

And also in chapter 2, the text breaks art down into different types (p. 58):


  • Nonobjective
  • Abstract
  • Ingredients of Art (p. 59):
  • Subject Matter
  • Form
  • Content
  • Iconography


Assignment Details:

  • For this assignment, you will be looking at 3 different pieces of art and analyzing them based on the information you have read in Part 1of Art Matters.  Your task for this assignment is to use these categories and ways of gathering information about art to analyze 3 pieces of art that you choose.  The basic guidelines are as follows:
  • Copy and paste an image of the 3 pieces of art that you choose into a word document. (You can use the attached worksheet to make it easy)
  • For each of the 3 pieces of art that you choose, please find one piece of art that fits into each of these 3 basic types:



JStor Art Database (MCTC library – requires log-in):

For each work you choose, please answer these questions:

(2 points) What is the name of the work and the name of the artist?

(2 points) What is the media that is used (what is it made out of)?

  1. (3 points) Is the work representational, abstract, or nonobjective?  How do you know?
  2. (2 points) What is the subject matter of the work?

(2 points each – 10 points total) What is the form of the work? Describe at least five different things you see.

  1. (1 points each – 3 points total) What can you learn about the context in which the artist was working? (time period and place). Who was the artist and what is unique about them that helps you understand the work? Please list 3 facts about the artist’s biography and the place and time for the work that helps you understand the work better.
  2. (2 points) What do you think the content of the work is?
  3. (2 points) Which theme do you think the work falls under? Why?

(2 points) Please choose one of the ways that art can be defined from chapter 2 that this work satisfies. 

  1. (2 points) What initially made you choose this work and what has changed about your perception as you have researched it more?

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