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Art Project – Education

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A curator builds and cares for a museum’s collection. They also conduct research, develop exhibitions, recommend purchases, write catalogue essays, and work with the rest of the museum staff to engage the public. Try on the role of curator by creating an exhibition in the Google Art Project.

First you’ll need an engaging theme. It could be simple (Winter) or more complex and conceptual (Good and Evil). It could be historical (Napoleon), topical (The City) or spiritual (demons). Next you’ll need to determine the order in which the works of art will be displayed. The order might be chronological or according to sub-themes (Good and Evil in the City, Good and Evil in the Country).

Here’s one example.

Exhibition: Beginnings and Endings

Cradle to grave, alpha and omega, top to bottom—notions of beginnings and endings structure the way we see our world. Art often treats these concepts in subtle and inventive ways. The present exhibition cuts across cultures and time to explore these fundamental concepts.

Rebus

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This do-it-yourself activity is in the spirit of a 2008-09 exhibition at MoMA, curated by the artist Vik Muniz, called Rebus. In his exhibition, Muniz removed works of art from their typical classifications and created unusual juxtapositions, like links in a chain. Muniz stated: "Rebus encourages viewers to think about the connection between one object and the next and is an exercise in the awareness of the power and function of serial visual analogy."

Instructions

Option 1

Curate an exhibition where one element in a work of art connects with the next and so on, in order to link works of art in unexpected ways. These elements can be an object depicted such as a shoe, or a color, style, symbolism, or anything else that you find.

Option 2

  1. Pick a museum in the Google Art Project

  2. Using Museum View, pick a room or section in the museum that you want to learn more about and identify the images you see there

  3. Create a Gallery and assemble the images there in the same sequence you encountered them using the Museum View. Remember, a curator assembled the works and put them in this sequence based on numerous factors including the collection’s holdings, historical considerations such as stylistic developments, and the visual relationship between objects. Write your own rationale for the connections between the works of art using the User Gallery annotation feature.

Here’s an example called Connect the Dots

("Vik Muniz Creates Rebus, an Inventive Narrative of Works from MoMA's Collection" in artdaily.org)

Remix

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Art doesn’t exist in isolation and sometimes it’s designed as part of an integrated whole. Richard Wagner introduced the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk, a synthesis of the arts (art, design, and, for Wagner, music) that form a total work of art. Frank Lloyd Wright designed clothing to be worn in rooms he had designed and furnished. A contemporary example can be found in the AMC series, Mad Men, where everything from the architecture, interior design, fashion, and the paintings on the walls, was conceived to fit together.

If you could bring any work of art home, how you would display it? Would you redecorate? Make a little model and decorate the room to go with your new work of art.

What would you wear in your designed interior? We assembled our outfit on Polyvore: http://www.polyvore.com/roger_angelica/set?id=44298658

Wildlife Photo Expedition

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Zoom to stalk and snap the wild animals that hide and frolic in the wilds of the Google Art Project. There are rabbit, deer, birds of pray and many other beasts but they can be tricky to spot. Snap their pictures, save to your User Gallery, and see how many species (real or imagined) you can capture—you can also collect plants for a botanical album or gems for a jewelry box.

Giovanni Bellini, St. Francis in the Desert, c. 1475-78 (The Frick Collection)

Giovanni Bellini, St. Francis in the Desert, c. 1475-78 (The Frick Collection)

The Lens of Now

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The Biblical quote, "there is nothing new under the sun," holds true for the themes and ideas that reappear in paintings and sculpture over the centuries. What is new are the artists, whose vision can be transformative. How would a work of art from history be transformed if the artist lived today instead of long ago? Tell that story. Here’s an example.

Dirk Hals, The Fête Champêtre, 1627 (Rijksmuseum)</a>

Dirk Hals, The Fête Champêtre, 1627 (Rijksmuseum)

The A-list gathered in the Hollywood hills to celebrate in the shadow of the mansion of one the myriad film moguls who amount to the version of rabble out here. What was the occasion? Who cares? Rich people don’t need a reason to throw a ridiculous party, and this tony afternoon affair certainly earned that title.

No lady present had any intention of being the one left off the society page because her outfit wasn’t current. Dresses made of the finest stretch velvet, all crowned with collars completely impractical in their size but pressed in such a way that you just know it took an army of service staff and two full time stylists to pull the off the look.

The mark of a truly engaging woman of course is her ability to party in complicated threads. The heartiest of the bunch managed to play acoustic guitars and sing Cheryl Crow songs, fanning the flames of desire of local boys who had fun on their mind but still managed to keep their hands to themselves for the press photo.

Speaking of fun, who brought the pet monkey? The standard issue trophy pups in purses were adorable to be sure, but a little dated by anyone’s standard. And last year’s fashion must, the tropical bird, was well represented. But monkeys are so hip; now. Who can top the spectacle of God’s favorite simian? When it comes to accessories, a monkey is always right and, if you ask us, will be for years to come. Tying one to a party chair may not have been the smartest idea. The poor thing looked shaken and nervous most of the afternoon, owing to harassment from one of the aforementioned out-of-date hounds. The monkey’s owner wouldn't notice, since most likely he or she was digging into the freshly prepared free-range chicken served up family style on a table brought out into the yard from the lanai.

The fete was a spectacular party, fit for the fabulous people who know just how to make the most of such perfect days in our part of the world.

Materials Matter

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The materials that a work of art is made from are critical to how we read it. Change the materials and you change the meaning.

When Van Gogh wanted to learn about Japanese art, he painted a copy of Japanese artist Hiroshige’s print The Plum Garden in Kameido (1857). But even if you’re not an artist, making a copy of a work of art will help you really see it. Grab a pencil, some colored paper, whatever is handy, and make a copy.

incent van Gogh, Flowering plum tree, after Hiroshige, 1887 (Vincent van Gogh Museum) Vincent van Gogh's Flowering plum tree, recreated with decorative papers

Vincent van Gogh, Flowering plum tree, after Hiroshige, 1887 (Vincent van Gogh Museum) (left)

Vincent van Gogh's Flowering plum tree, recreated with decorative papers (right)

Another way to reinvent a work of art with new materials is to create it as a living picture, or Tableau Vivant. A Tableau Vivant (French for "living picture") is the live re-enactment of a work of art. People have been creating them for hundreds of years, and Tableaux Vivants can be simple or exacting. For ideas, watch this.

Now that you’re inspired, pick a work of art and get a group of friends to pose like the people in it. Take a photo or make a video then post it on YouTube and share it on Google+.

Inventing Color

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People have been trying to understand how color works since antiquity. Greek Philosophers, Medieval and Renaissance thinkers and artists have sought to define the structure of color but were frustrated by its elusiveness. During the Enlightenment in the 17th century, as science emerged as a dominant aspect of the modern world, thinkers such as Newton and Goethe devised color theories that we have continued to refine.

Explore how artists have used and understood color by creating a User Gallery of works of art that represent spokes on a color wheel.

Need a color theory refresher? Travel back to your childhood and watch OK Go and Sesame Street’s brilliant, Three Primary Colors. Maria Popova of the fabulous blog, Brainpickings, wrote of this short stop-motion film, “it might just be the finest treat for budding designers.”

Here’s a Gallery to get you started with yellows and oranges.

Create your own color wheel Gallery from works of art in the Google Art Project. Look for paintings with a dominant color that fits your wheel and share your Gallery on Google+.

Scavenger Hunt

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Send your friends on a Google Art Project scavenger hunt: try this brain teaser. Post an acrostic on Google+ (i.e. where the first letter of each artwork title spells a message) and link to the Google Art Project. See which one of your friends is fastest to get the hint!

Here's an example.

  • Begin at the monk’s end. Find a spooky ruined abbey in a German wood.

    Caspar David Friedrich, Abbey among Oak Trees, 1809 or 1810 (Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin)

    Caspar David Friedrich, Abbey among Oak Trees, 1809 or 1810 (Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin)

  • You're in the Dutch army, your horses need a drink—watch out for the cows, the dog, and especially the ducks.

    Aelbert Cuyp, River Landscape with Riders, 1655 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

    Aelbert Cuyp, River Landscape with Riders, 1655 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

  • Curling down from the clouds high above: wind, rain, and violent thunder.

    Katsushika Hokusai, Thunder God, 1847 (Freer Gallery of Art, The Smithsonian’s Museums of Asian Art, Washington)

    Katsushika Hokusai, Thunder God, 1847 (Freer Gallery of Art, The Smithsonian’s Museums of Asian Art, Washington)

  • Rescue the maiden from the dragon in this modern dreamlike pastel.

    Odilon Redon, Roger and Angelica, 1910 (The Museum of Modern Art)

    Odilon Redon, Roger and Angelica, 1910 (The Museum of Modern Art)

  • It's hard enough to balance your own finances, imagine you're the King of France, and you need to balance the nation's checkbook!

    Charles Le Brun, Order restored in the Kingdom’s Finances, 1662 (Palace of Versailles)

    Charles Le Brun, Order restored in the Kingdom’s Finances, 1662 (Palace of Versailles)

  • A pipe, a book and grapes strewn across the table. Can you decipher the other objects?

    Juan Gris, Carafe and Book, 1920 (Museo Reina Sophia)

    Juan Gris, Carafe and Book, 1920 (Museo Reina Sophia)

  • It seems as if all of Russia moves along this dusty road.

    Ilya Repin, Krestny Khod (Religious Procession), 1880-83 (The State Tretyakov Gallery)

    Ilya Repin, Krestny Khod (Religious Procession), 1880-83 (The State Tretyakov Gallery)

  • In a sacred puzzle, children play in small courtyard while Saint Sebastian looks on, all set in a fanciful Italian landscape.

    Giovanni Bellini, Sacred Allegory, 1490-99 (Uffizi Gallery, Florence)

    Giovanni Bellini, Sacred Allegory, 1490-99 (Uffizi Gallery, Florence)

Show Answers

ART ROCKS

  1. Caspar David Friedrich, Abbey among Oak Trees, 1809 or 1810 (Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin)

  2. Aelbert Cuyp, River Landscape with Riders, 1655 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

  3. Katsushika Hokusai, Thunder God, 1847 (Freer Gallery of Art, The Smithsonian’s Museums of Asian Art, Washington)

  4. Odilon Redon, Roger and Angelica, 1910 (The Museum of Modern Art)

  5. Charles Le Brun, Order restored in the Kingdom’s Finances, 1662 (Palace of Versailles)

  6. Juan Gris, Carafe and Book, 1920 (Museo Reina Sophia)

  7. Ilya Repin, Krestny Khod (Religious Procession), 1880-83 (The State Tretyakov Gallery)

  8. Giovanni Bellini, Sacred Allegory, 1490-99 (Uffizi Gallery, Florence)

For more on scavenger hunts: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scavenger_hunt

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Museum

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When we encounter a work of art in a museum, we rarely think about where it’s been and how it got to the museum, but every work of art has a unique history, or provenance. Some works of art come from churches, some from tombs, or palaces. Works of art can pass through many hands before they arrive at a museum. In the Google Art Project, the provenance of a work of art can be found in the "details" section.

Although we know the provenance of most works of art, mysteries often remain. Imagine a work of art’s provenance by picking one or two works of art from the same museum. Write a fantastic story about how it they ended up there. Here's an example.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Progress of Love: The Meeting, 1771-73 (The Frick Collection)

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Progress of Love: The Meeting, 1771-73 (The Frick Collection)

Francisco Jose dé Goya y Lucientes, The Forge, 1815-20 (The Frick Collection)

Francisco Jose dé Goya y Lucientes, The Forge, 1815-20 (The Frick Collection)

Progress skipped lightly on her corners across the floor as Forge bounded behind her, his thudding leaps jarring the bottom of his frame. He followed her behind the cut velvet draperies in the salon across the room and opposite the wall where she had lived for seventy years. He found her, in the dark, lying on her side and propped against the wall at a flirty angle.

"You won’t have the luxury of lumbering that way along the floors at the museum," she said. "I hear the art is never alone."

Forge leaned closer. He spoke in a deep whisper that caused Progress's canvas to tremble. "You worry for nothing. During the summer months, as my patrons traveled, I journeyed to the museum on my own. I have seen the place prepared for you. And, with some of my own heavy handed tricks, I have chosen my own."

"Tricks? What kind of tricks? Is your place near mine?" Progress asked breathlessly. "Tell me it is."

"I will not tell. Your worries for this move are over, my dear. Leave the rest to me," said Forge.

The next day, Progress was gently removed from the wall of her home. Wrapped and taken by truck to the Frick museum, she felt herself laid onto her wall mounts, more secure than ever before. It felt so permanent, something Progress couldn’t decide if she liked or not. She took in the sights of her new home, a small room, was it once a kitchen? A small parlor? She couldn’t be sure. It was a small gallery now. Intimate, personal.

Progress could see no one walking through the galleries nearby, nor could she hear a sound. In the dim morning light, she scanned the wall directly in front of her and was startled. Forge hung just a few steps in front of her, his mounts just as permanent, never to leave her gaze again.

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