The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls. Pablo Picasso
2. Art is not what you see, but what you make others see. Edgar Degas
3. No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist. Oscar Wilde
4. To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist. Schumann
5. The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity. Walt Whitman

November 20, 2017

9. Edvard Munch's "The Scream"

After having watched the documentary about this masterpiece, what is your reading of this work? Are there any new meanings you might attribute to it? Is this still an icon of the modern world?

The two materials above are just for some remembrance and/or new thoughts.

What do you think about Sebastian Cosor's animation of The Scream? Did he manage to give that "little figure" a voice?

Deadline: December 3 EXTENDED to December 17

8. Course 3: The Expository Essay

COMMUNICATIVE PURPOSE : to theorize/speculate about:

-causes + /- effects
-particular meanings
-artist's choices
-possible developments, etc

theorizing = performing an inferential type of mental activity (moving from particular items to general ideas), whose result is a thesis which must be supported by a number of points of proof

DISCOURSE STRATEGIES (that can be used when developing points of proof):

  • explaining viewer's reactions
  • formal analysis
  • comparing works/artists/features
  • historical/anecdotal narratives
  • exemplification
  • quoting/paraphrasing
  • paradox, etc


MOVE I: introducing the subject, thesis, list of points of proof

Step 1: introducing the subject (title of work, artist, context of creation)

Step 2: stating the thesis: one complete, unified statement, limited to one aspect only, general enough to ask for support, defensible, not too obvious

Step 3: stating the points of proof (2-3) intended to be used in order to support the thesis

MOVE II: developing the points of proof

Step 1: developing the first point of proof

Step 2: developing the 2nd point of proof

Step 3: developing the 3rd point of proof

MOVE III: concluding by evaluating the measure in which the points of proof have demonstrated the thesis

MOVE IV: Works cited (whenever one uses bibliography)

Task 1.    Comment on the way the theses and the points of proof were formulated and developed in the two texts we have read in class (1. The African Influences in Brancusi's Work by Paul Stoie  and 2. Idea for Sale by Oana Boca). Which of them appears to you more convincing and why?
Task 2. Try to formulate a thesis and a list of points of proof on a subject of your choice.

Deadline December 17, 2017


The Beginning of the World


The First Cry 

The First Step

November 06, 2017

7. Whistler's Mother

Comment on the video material about James McNeill Whistler's  "Portrait of the Artist's Mother" also known as "Arrangement in Grey and Black, No 1"; you might think about him breaking all sorts of conventions, both in his real life and in his painting. Or, maybe, think about what he said:

"Art should be independent on any emotions such as devotion, pity, love, patriotism, and the like. And that is why I insist on calling my works 'arrangements' and 'harmonies'".

Is this just a portrait of his mother? Is it more? If so, what is it that  makes this painting a widely known American artwork? What about the title?
You may find the following links helpful:'s_Mother

Here is a very short fragment:

Deadline: November 19, 2017

October 23, 2017

6. Happy Halloween!

Have fun with...

Halloween wishes and sayings

Or, here you can share your thoughts about this holiday.

Image result for halloween greetings creative commons

Deadline November 5, 2017

4. Course no. 2: The Critical Essay. The Formal Analysis

The artistic discourse community:

- a socio-rhetorical group of people who share common goals directly related to art; certain mechanisms of communication (eg. art magazines); specific vocabulary, grammar, semantics, rhetoric; specific GENRES

- genre: type of texts that share the same communicative purpose

The Critical Essay = a genre whose communicative purpose is to offer a personal opinion on a specific subject. Therefore we can consider it subjective writing. Nontheless, subjective does not mean total lack of evidence for what we claim.

The Formal Analysis
- a type of critical essay

- to analyse = to take a thing apart; to decompose it in order to see what its components are and how they work together as a whole => to analyse a work of art = to deconstruct it into smaller elements such as : subject-matter; formal elements; principles of design; style; purpose, etc.
- purpose: to describe, interpret and/or evaluate a work of art, that is, to analyse a work of art
- prerequisite: direct access to the real work or to a good reproduction
- each such important element is then analysed in order to see what role it plays in the whole

- the standard move-structure of a text belonging to the subgenre of formal analysis:

MOVE I: Introducing the work and the artist

  • step 1: identifying the work (some details about the title, author, theme, subject-matter, medium, dimensions, period of creation, current location, purposes of creation)
  • step 2: identifying the artist: only that biographical information considered relevant for the work analysed

MOVE II: Transition:

- usually offers a personal first response to the work

MOVE III: Analysing de-constructed elements:

  • step 1: analysing first element : describing the first element + interpreting the first element + /- evaluating the first element (e.g. a character in the work)
  • step 2: analysing element 2 (e.g. the principle of the perfect symmetry)
  • step 3: analysing element 3 (e.g. the dominating colour)

MOVE IV: Concluding:

- offering a final interpretation +/- evaluation of the whole work, based on the previous analyses


- study the texts:

1. The Marriage of Giovanni Arnolfini and Jeanne Cenami by Jan van Eyck, written by Erwin Panofsky

The text you are supposed to read is really Panofsky's text (which can be found in the book Anda-Elena Cretiu: Discourse and Communication in Visual Arts, Casa Cartii de Stiinta, 2014, or in Genre-Structured Discourse in Art Texts, Presa Univ. Clujeana, 2003) (in our library). The links below are only commentaries on the text and may help you better understand it. 

Erwin Panofsky and his interpretation of art works
another version of the text

2. Ten Lizes by Andy Warhol by Anca Teodora Pora

3. Write a formal analysis on a subject of your choice.

- comment on the analyses made by the authors, that is, on the descriptions and interpretations and/or evaluations offered; did they convince you?; can you find other possible interpretations to those elements?; are there other elements you would have chosen instead? which? why?

DEADLINE 1 (for task 1): November 5

DEADLINE 2 (for task 2): November 19 

DEADLINE 3 (for task 3): Nov. 6, 13, 20, 27

5. Erwin Panofsky's The Marriage of Giovanni Jan van Eyck

Task: Do you agree with the interpretations given by Panofsky to this painting? Are they supported by evidence? Can you give other?

deadline: Nov. 5, 2017

The text you are supposed to read is really Panofsky's text (which can be found in the book Anda-Elena Cretiu: Discourse and Communication in Visual Arts, Casa Cartii de Stiinta, 2014, or in Genre-Structured Discourse in Art Texts, Presa Univ. Clujeana, 2003) (in our library). The links below are only commentaries on the text and may help you better understand it.

October 21, 2017

3. BASIC TAXONOMY (course one continued)

Here are the most important terms we will be using throughout this year's study; please be sure you get well acquainted with all of them:

  • THEME: the general content of the art work (general aspect/subject) (e.g. the landscape)
  • SUBJECT-MATTER: the sum of identifiable objects, persons, places, references in the artwork (e.g. the rosegarden)
  • MEANING (or, CONTENT): is revealed through interpretation; sometimes the title may be of help, but most often than not, it is revealed through careful iconographic and/or iconologic interpretation
  • ICONOGRAPHY: the overt or hidden symbolism in the artwork, rendered through images (signs, symbols)
  • ICONOLOGY: the meaning revealed through the study of the cultural, social, historical background of the artwork (through literary, historical,aso, texts)
  • DESCRIBING ART: the verbal pointing to the features; a means of gathering the support for interpretations; it concerns the subject-matter, the most expressive formal elements; the principles of design, aso.
  • ANALYSING ART: explaining how the described elements get their meanings, the artist's choices; inferring meaning; evaluating technique
  • INTERPRETING ART: a most important and complex activity; the arriving at the meaning of the artwork by employing different strategies of interpreting based on the information gathered through iconographical and iconological insights
  • EVALUATING ART: determining how good the artwork is, according to some criteria,either clearly stated, or implied, while providing reasons and evidence for judgments