This curriculum guide is designed to enhance the museum/school relationship by providing accessible educational material to teachers and students. By making museum resources available on-line, the collection can be easily integrated into the classroom curriculum. Yet, accessibility is just one advantage. In order to ensure that the museum and participating schools share the same goals and objectives, it is important to have a shared knowledge of teaching methods, taxonomies, standards, and learning styles that can assist in reaching shared educational outcomes.
The object-based method of education is frequently used by museums and other cultural institutions committed to the collection, preservation, and interpretation of art objects. The object-based method of education enables students to enhance their understanding of art by working directly with original works of art. This teaching method is inclusive in that it involves formal and informal approaches to learning. Students can become engaged with works in the collection by relying on their own knowledge and experience to interpret what they see, as well as considering complex relationships, utilizing abstract concepts, and developing criteria for evaluation. One model that has been used for beginners who are just being introduced to visual art is Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). This approach enables students to play a vital role in the interpretive process. Used during pre-visit periods in the classroom or during their initial visit to the museum, students are asked to respond to what they see based on their own knowledge and experience. This is a great way for students to begin developing their visual thinking skills as they decipher the content of a work based on what they see in the language they are most familiar with. Whether you are a novice or an expert, the skills required to learn from objects in the collection require that you observe, compare, classify, summarize, interpret, hypothesize, imagine, and decide. The museum visit thus encompasses a range of teaching methods used by museum educators as well as the learning styles of visitors. In order to better understand the relationship between teaching methods and learning styles, see George Hein’s Learning in the Museum (1998). Hein devised a quadrant (Systematic, Orderly, Discovery, Constructivism) that examines how teaching and learning occurs in a museum setting.
Krathwohl’s and Bloom’s Taxonomy (Affective Domain)
A useful affective domain taxonomy that is centered on the learner is Krathwohl’s Taxonomy. The taxonomy is ordered according to the principle of internalization. Internalization refers to the process whereby a person's affect toward an object passes from a general awareness level to a point where the affect is 'internalized' and consistently guides or controls the person's behavior. The taxonomy is broken down into five categories: Receiving, Responding, Valuing, Organization, and Characterization.
The model most applicable to high school students is Bloom’s Taxonomy (cognitive domain). Bloom identified six levels within the cognitive domain, from the simple recall or recognition of facts, as the lowest level, through increasingly more complex and abstract mental levels, to the highest order, which is classified as evaluation.
Knowledge is defined as remembering of previously learned material.
Comprehension is defined as the ability to grasp the meaning of material.
Application refers to the ability to use learned material in new and concrete situations.
Analysis refers to the ability to break down material into its component parts so that its organizational structure may be understood.
Synthesis refers to the ability to put parts together to form a new whole.
Evaluation is concerned with the ability to judge the value of material (statement, novel, poem, research report) for a given purpose. (see also, Harrow’s Taxonomy (psychomotor domain)
Free Library Barbara Novak. Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting 1825 – 1875, New York, Oxford University Press, 1980. (Chapter Eight: Man’s Traces: Axe, Train, Figure)
Barbara Novak. American Painting of the Nineteenth Century: Realism, Idealism, and the American Experience, Harper and Row Publishers, NY, 1979. (Features chapters on Washington Allston, Asher B. Durand, Fitz Hugh Lane, William Sidney Mount, George Caleb Bingham, Marin Johnson Heade, Thomas Cole, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, Albert Pinkham Ryder, and William Harnett).
James Thomas Flexner. That Wilder Image: The Paintings of America’s Native School from Thomas Cole to Winslow, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1962. (Chapter Twelve: The Civil War Sweetens Genre)
John K. Howat. American Paradise: The World of the Hudson River School, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1987. (Recommended essay: The Hudson River School in Eclipse, page 49)
Robert Rosenblum. Modern Painting and the Northern Romantic Tradition: Friedrich to Rothko, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1975. (Part One: Northern Romanticism and the resurrection of God).
Abraham A. Davidson. The Eccentrics and Other American Visionary Painters, E. P. Dutton, New York, 1978. (Chapter 4: The Visionary II: Visionaries of “the Normal”).
James F. Cooper. Knights of the Brush: The Hudson River School and the Moral Landscape, Hudson Hills Press, New York, 1999. (Part Two: Paradise Lost: History, Western Civilization, Order).
Malcolm Robinson. The American Vision: Landscape Paintings of the United States, Octopus Books, New York, 1988. (Chapter One: The Emerging Nation)
George Inness, Jr. Life, Art, and Letters of George Inness, Kennedy Galleries, Inc, Da Capo Press, NY, 1969.
Saint Louis Art Museum. Kynaston McShine. The Natural Paradise: Painting in America 1800-1950, The Museum of Modern Art, NY, 1976. (On Divers Themes from Nature: A Selection of Texts, Edited by Barbara Novak, page 59)
William L. Vance. America’s Rome Volume I, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1989.
John W. Coffey. Twilight of Arcadia: American Landscape Painters in Rome 1830-1880, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine, 1987.
Sir C. J. Holmes. Notes on the Science of Picture-making, Chatto and Windus, London, 1927.
Regina Soria. Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century American Artists in Italy 1760-1914, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, London and Toronto, 1982.
Label copy for each artist
George Inness. In the Roman Campagna, 1873.
Painted in a soft manner and suffused with light, In the Roman Campagna focuses on a popular site on every tourist’s itinerary. Like many of George Inness’s compositions, the landscape includes innumerous picturesque details such as the architectural ruin in the foreground and the cave mouths in the distance, meant to evoke Italy’s ancient past.
Albert Bierstadt. Olevano, 1856-7.
Albert Bierstadt traveled the hills of Italy in the spring of 1857. The medieval hill town of Olevano Romano, east of Rome, had become a tourist location by the mid – 19th century, because of its great cliffs and architecture. Bierstadt recorded his observation of the city’s panorama in this oil sketch which was intended as a compositional study for a larger painting. You can see the reference points of the surrounding hills he inscribed along the bottom of the painting.
American Landscape Painting
Landscapes, or views of nature, play a significant role in American art. The earliest American landscape paintings were topographic illustrations of farms, cities, and landmarks that were generally painted for local residents or for Europeans interested in the New World. In the colonial era, landscape views were found primarily in the backgrounds of portraits, usually to provide additional information about the sitter.
Landscape painting came to dominate American art in the 1820s, when artists began to equate the country's unspoiled wilderness with the new nation's seemingly limitless potential. Foremost among those increasingly interested in the expressive power of landscape was the young artist Thomas Cole. Cole is regarded as the founder of the Hudson River school, a loosely knit group of American artists who actively painted landscapes between 1825 and 1875. Giving stylistic direction to a distinctly American understanding of nature, Hudson River school artists invested the land with a sense of national identity, the promise of prosperity, and the presence of God.
The first generation of Hudson River school artists, represented by Asher B. Durand and Cole, believed that studying the land led to enlightenment and a connection with divine harmony. Every detail absorbed their attention, from moss-covered rocks in clear streams to snowcapped mountains. For other artists, exact documentation was less important than illustrating religious and moral sentiments. Allegorical landscapes are imaginary scenes with symbolic meaning, rather than representations of a particular place. Sometimes inspired by literature, these large-scale works illustrated high-minded themes that were usually reserved for history painting.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the American public became increasingly interested in the far reaches of the continent. Adventurous artists made names for themselves by bringing images of the Rockies, the Sierra Nevadas, and South America back to East Coast audiences. George Catlin built his career on his record of the indigenous people of the Americas. Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran became known for their grandiose landscapes; their huge panoramas were meant to approximate the live viewing experience. Moran's paintings of the American West were instrumental in the establishment of Yellowstone as the first national park in 1872.
Gradually, these grand, monumental landscapes gave way to more intimate, interpretive views. For the new generation, landscape was less a stage for theatrical effects but rather a sounding board for the artist's personal emotional response. At the turn of the century, Winslow Homer specialized in outdoor scenes that captured American rural life. American impressionists experimented with rendering the evocative effects of light and atmosphere in landscape. The new aesthetic was characterized by loose brushwork, subtle tonalities, and an interest in conveying mood.
Soon after the turn of the century, a group of New York artists rejected picturesque pastoral subjects and focused instead on gritty urban scenes. Although there are some technical similarities to the work of impressionists, the urban landscapes of the Ashcan school were intended to document the grim realities of city life and spark social change. The work of Edward Hopper also has an element of social commentary. A realist artist, he painted both urban and rural subjects, but throughout there is a dimension of the isolation of American society between the World Wars. The regionalist painters, a group of artists working primarily in the Midwest during the 1930s, had a different tone but similar goals. They were interested in uniquely American activities and places, which for them meant glorifying the labor and lifestyle of rural regions.
Abstract artists of the twentieth century approached landscape with a variety of strategies. The Armory Show of 1913 brought the work of European modernists to the attention of American artists, many for the first time. Succeeding developments fostered a uniquely American abstraction, based on precedents of cubism and expressionism. John Marin's Storm over Taos contains elements of both these movements, synthesized into a dynamic landscape. Lyonel Feininger's Storm Brewing has a different conception of a similar subject. Georgia O'Keeffe's unique form of organic abstraction involved distilling the natural world to its fundamental elements, creating works of dramatic simplicity. Joan Mitchell used the gestural painting techniques of abstract expressionism to convey her conception of the world around her. Sometimes recognizable places, sometimes only colors and textures reminiscent of landscape motifs, these works show that even in modern, industrialized society, the American landscape still has the power to elicit artistic expression.
Henry David Thoreau. “In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World,” selections & photographs by Eliot Porter, Sierra Club, Ballantine Books, NY, 1962.
“We need the tonic of wildness, to wade sometimes in marshes where the bittern and the meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground. At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed. We can never have enough of nature. We must by refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and its decaying trees, the thunder cloud, and the rain which lasts three weeks and produces freshets. We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander. Walden (back jacket)