Art History Curriculum

A page on vanitas painting from American Art Volume II by Kristin Draeger

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“Art History Curriculum” is probably not the most appealing title for a web page considering what a lot of art curriculum is like. The subject matter is interesting and compelling, but art history curriculum is often anything but that.

Why? Well, quite often art history curriculum approaches the topic in a way that is dry and boring. It is often simply a factual approach.

Just the facts, Ma’am

“But the painting is beautiful…it makes me think about….”

“Please, Ma’am, stick to the facts. What colors did the artist use? What medium is being used? What people did the artist hang out with? When was it painted?”

“I’m not really sure, but I think the artist is trying to give us a clue…..if you look at this…”

“Please, Ma’am, the facts, just the facts, pleaaaaaase.”

A faux advertisement on vanitas painting from American Art Volume II by Kristin Draeger

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You mean there’s more?

Facts are great and certainly they shouldn’t be ignored in any art history curriculum….but let’s not miss the forest for the trees. It has been said that the greatest philosophical question before us is, “Why is there something and not nothing?”

Great art asks us to consider possible answers to this question. Sometimes it may give a definitive answer that the viewer is asked to consider….to decide if he or she agrees with it. At other times a more ambiguous answer is given, an answer of “I’m not quite sure what is going on, but here are some possibilities. What do you think?”

Great art history curriculum will teach the student how to look at art to approach the question of meaning. What does it mean? What is the artist trying to say? What symbols are being used? What do those symbols mean? Does the art move you? Why or why not?

A page from American Art Volume II about Peale by Kristin Draeger

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What about the real world?

Realistically, even this will not be captivating for every young student and this is where ARTK12 art history curriculum comes in. It takes the facts and meaning of art and disguises it as fun for your students. Cartoons, forgeries, faux advertisements, humor and more entertain students while also giving them something of substance to think about.

There is also a bingo game and students are given a drawing project with step-by-step instructions to help them complete something that they’ll be proud of without  frustrating them in the process.

The curriculum is set for two semesters, sixteen weeks each and is ideal for homeschoolers or teachers who have to contend with the very little time often allowed for the study of art.

Take a look around and let Kristin know if you have any questions:

A page from American Art Volume II about The Death of General Wolfe by Kristin Draeger

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