food for thought

  1. 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

December 02, 2019

9. Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon"'Avignon

You can place your comments on the viewed material here. Why does such a previously perceived as "hideous" work of art mean so much in art history?

DEADLINE for your comments: December 16, 2019

November 18, 2019

8. Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss"

Comment on the documentary you have watched by trying to argue whether The Kiss should be considered a piece of decorative art or of fine art. You may, of course, come with other comments than those presented in the material.

DEADLINE: December 15, 2019

The short video below is just to remind you of some facts:

Here is a link to What is Art Nouveau, helping you to better understand the context of Klimt's works.

7. 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 15, 2019


The Beginning of the World


The First Cry 

The First Step

November 06, 2019

6. Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, 1884–86, oil on canvas, 207.5 × 308.1 cm, Art Institute of Chicago

Comment on the theme, subject matter, and the technique used by the artist. How did this work influence the direction of the art of the time? Where to? In what way?
Deadline: November 24

October 22, 2019

5. Van Gogh's "Starry Night" and more

Access this link:

Watch the video and identify some of the works reproduced here. Comment on the way Don McLean, singer and text writer of the song, interprets van Gogh's works, especially the "Starry Night". Here is a quotation Don McLean gives in an interview, of part of a letter Vincent wrote to his brother Theo:
"Just as we take the train to go to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to go to a star."

deadline: November 17

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

- 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 3

DEADLINE 2 (for task 2): November 17 

October 04, 2019

3. Manet's "Le Dejeuner sur l'herbe"

The above link is to a kind of summary of the material we have watched; however, it may help you remember some things in order to comment on the watched documentary.

Task: comment on how Manet managed to break all the rules by creating this work.

Deadline: October 20