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Reading Notes

Reading philosophical essays is more challenging in that you often have to scan once, read once, and review once before you can adequately explain the author's position. In order to be sure that you are receiving maximum benefit from your time spent studying, try to answer the guide questions posed below. If you cannot answer them, it is time to read or review to be sure you understand the main arguments presented. See more tips here.

Underdog Week: Nochlin & Vincent van Gogh...

This week we will address the situation of women artists and innovators, especially as they participate in the visual arts. The question under scrutiny in the Nochlin reading is whether or not women have made significant contributions to the visual arts. I know the reading can be difficult but it is worth your time and consideration as women are entering visual arts studies at a rapid pace. If women are barred from serious consideration of their work when people choose to believe that there are no great women artists, then the visual arts are indeed an occupation closed to considerations of new work.

  1. Resources
  2. Guide Questions
  3. Smartboard Notes

Here are some web sites that will enhance your understanding of this week's reading:

Linda Nochlin
van Gogh

Guide Questions:

The following questions are designed to fine tune your understanding of the reading. The subject matter and answers to these questions form the basis of what you will be required to know for exams.

Objective: to determine if women are included in the category "great artists".  In addition, we'll look at van Gogh who faced rejection of his work during his lifetime. The connection I am trying to draw is that women artists may not have received recognition for their talents in the mainstream art community yet!  Just as interest in van Gogh's work grew after his death, it is possible that women artists are on the rise to prominence in the visual arts and have yet to attain the recognition in the artist and critical communities.

Nochlin Guide Questions:

  1. What are the assumptions behind the question: "why are there no great women artists?"?
  2. Is it true that women have not "achieved anything of major significance in the visual arts"? What about in your field of study? Are women innovators on the cutting edge in your field? 
  3. Do women (as a group) have an identifiable style in any art form? Are there some kinds of art that are easily identifiable as the "work of women?"
  4. How does Nochlin suggest that we ought to understand the connection between social class and the propagation of artistic genius?
  5. What is Nochlin's assertion concerning aristocracy and art?
  6. Do women have too many social responsibilities to devote time to the creation of professional art?
  7. What is the traditional perceived connection between genius and art creation? How does genius happen? Does one have to be a genius to create viable works of art?

van Gogh Guide Questions:

  1. The first few pages describe van Gogh's family background and entrance into the art world. Even though van Gogh had obvious connections in the art community, how might he be conceived as an underdog?
  2. Potato Eaters: Why does van Gogh choose to paint the peasants? What is the connection between van Gogh's situation and the peasants' that makes this painting especially poignant?
  3. Describe van Gogh's stylistic approach to technique.
  4. Why does van Gogh admire the Japanese painters?
  5. What is van Gogh's emotional aim when painting?
  6. Why does van Gogh value the capacity to "work from memory"? What is the skill level required to accomplish this feat?
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Smartboard Notes

Smartboard Notes from Week 2 Lecture:

smartboard notes

Class Lecture Notes Aesthetics Week 3, Monday

 Characteristics of the Great Artist or “Lone Genius”

Which categories above would have been hard for women to achieve throughout history?

 Activity: Find one contemporary woman artist who is prominent in your field at present.  You may use either the library or the Internet.  Be sure to photocopy information that shows what the artist is involved in, age, education, projects, etc.

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