How fascinating can a Rococo Clock be to a High School student today? I am always surprised to discover that students respond positively and enthusiastically to the enjoyable, cheerful and carefree style of the 18th century we call Rococo. “Artists working in this frivolous aesthetic built upon the flamboyance of the Baroque period, adapting its awe-inspiring aesthetic to produce equally extravagant yet distinctively playful works of art.”
Do you know that “The term Rococo is derived from rocaille, a special method of decorating fountains and grottoes that dates back to the Italian Renaissance?” Artists using this technique “would mix seashells, pebbles, and other organic materials with cement, culminating in a naturalistic, under-the-sea-inspired medium.”
Rococo Decorative Arts are equally important and fascinating to painting and sculpture. They “often incorporate intricate, asymmetrical forms.” Their “serpentine silhouettes are inherently naturalistic yet undoubtedly exaggerated and are found in a range of objects, including intricate tables and eye-catching candelabra…” and Tick-Tock Clocks… I would add.
All quotations come from April 29, 2018, well-written to say the least article titled Celebrate the Elegance and Exuberance of French Rococo Art at MY MODERN MET https://mymodernmet.com/rococo-art/ site.
For more examples of student work, please… check HERE!
The Tick-Tock Bedroom Clock student Worksheet is… HERE!
The Jasper Cup from Vatopedi is one of the most famous Late Byzantine works of art. It is a Chalice of silver-work and stone-carving, a rare example of refined craftsmanship, one of the finest pieces of the Palaeologan period. It belonged to Manuel Cantacuzenos Palaeologos (1349-80), Despot of Mystra, son of Emperor John VI Cantacuzenos (1347-54) and grandson of Theodore Palaeologus, Despot of Mystra.
The Cup, carved out of a piece of jasper, was created in a Byzantine workshop, in the shape of an antique broad-lipped wine-cup. The inscription on its rim reads “and he gave it to his disciples and apostles saying, drink of this, all of you …”. As this is the prayer from the Eucharist, as given in the Liturgy of St Basil, the Vatopedi Chalice was used as an ecclesiastical vessel.
The base is octagonal, its eight sections decorated with medallions containing, alternately, cruciform monograms and half-length hierarchs holding open scrolls. The monograms identify the owner of the vessel: M (Manuel), Δ (Despot), Κ (Cantacuzenos), Π (Palaeologus). For a more detailed presentation of the Chalice, please check: https://www.elpenor.org/athos/en/e218ci14.asp
The metalwork decoration, following byzantine models, intriguing techniques, and borrowed Gothic motifs, proves that a “Byzantine-Gothic” marriage of styles can create exquisite results.
For a PowerPoint on Byzantine Chalices, please… Check HERE!
Hercules at the Crossroads is an ancient Greek parable. It came down to us through Xenophone but is attributed to Prodicus of Ceos, a 5th-century philosopher. According to Prodicus, young Hercules, at the threshold of adulthood, meets two women, personifications of Virtue and Vice, and faces a choice. One of the women is beautiful but dignified, dressed modestly, looking genuine and pure. The other is equally beautiful but voluptuous in form, richly dressed, looking superficial. They represent the two paths of life, that of Virtue and that of Vice, and Hercules chooses Virtue, the road of honour, hard work but noble deeds.
Created thousands of years ago, the Greek Myths of Hercules tell us epic stories, adventures of demigods, heroes and monsters, tales of love, loyalty, betrayal, friendship, bravery… They show that gods and heroes, very much like ordinary humans, men and women alike, can be right or wrong, fail or succeed, love or hate. Hercules and his extraordinary deeds offer our students a glimpse into the lives of the Ancient Greek people, their culture and art.
The parable of Hercules at the Crossroads became a popular motif in Western art, just like the lovely hand-fan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
For my Grade 1 Host Country Studies class, I decided to do a HAND-FAN Activity. We created simple, paper HAND-FANS and we decorated them with WORDS representing the concepts of VIRTUE and VICE. We added a beautiful coloured ribbon and… Voila!!!
For the Worksheet on the Activity, please… Check HERE!
Back to Aigai, the 1st capital of the ancient Macedonians is always a pleasure!
Archaeological excavations have unveiled extraordinary riches of the past, a prosperous city enclosed by defensive walls, with an acropolis in the north-east foothills of the Pierian mountains. They discovered impressive temples, monumental public buildings, an imposing palatial complex, unique in its architectural characteristics, a theatre, and several “Macedonian” Tombs, the most important of which is the Tomb of King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great.
Pinewood Grade 5 students visited the Tomb of Philip II, one of the largest of all “Macedonian” Tombs found in Greece. The monument was constructed of stone and consists of two vaulted rooms, the main burial chamber and the antechamber. The grandiose, imposing facade is adorned with marble double doors, two half-columns and an extraordinary painted frieze immortalizing a hunt of lions, bears, antelopes and boars in a semi-forested landscape.
Next to Philip’s Tomb is the plundered cist tomb of Persephone famous for its wall painting. Among the figures of the Fates and of Demeter seated on the “mirthless rock” is a depiction of the abduction of Persephone by the god of the underworld, Hades. The originality of execution, the power of conception and restraint of colouring all indicate an artist of great talent. Could the artist be Theban Nicomachus, famous for his rendering of the female figure?
“Back to Aigai” students enjoyed a day of myths, glorious history, fine arts, golden treasures, and … serene countryside, sunshine and autumn bliss. They were so smart but most importantly so kind and full of respect…They were attentive and engaged, they contributed so much to the successful outcome of our trip!
The Myth of Theseus, the Minotaur, Dionysus and Ariadne has it all! love, adventure, an impossible task, betrayal, and sacrifice. The adventure starts in the city of Troezene, where Theseus is born, and unfolds by travelling us to Athens, the island of Crete, the island of Naxos, and back to Athens again. My Grade 6 Host Country Studies students LOVE the Myth and the art, so, I prepared a PowerPoint Activity for them…
Instructions on what to do:
Research: Find 5 Artworks presenting the mythological princess Ariadne. Artworks can be paintings, sculptures, etc. How to do research for Artworks on Ariadne: Go to Google –Ariadne Myth – Pictures.
Research-Writing: Do not forget that the correct identification for each artwork you use is mandatory. (Correct identification should include: Name of artist, the title of the artwork, date, medium, where the artwork is. For example, Titian, Bacchus and Ariadne, 1522-23, oil on canvas, the National Gallery, London)
CREATIVE! Prepare an appealing PowerPoint!!!
Inspired by the François Vase is a Grade 7 Activity my students enjoy doing!
François Vase is exhibited at the National Museum of Archaeology in Florence. It is “a large black-figure krater, a large vase in Ancient Greece believed to be used for watering down wine, from c. 570 BC. The design is fascinating and, if one looks carefully, you will find both the signature of the potter, Ergotimos and the painter, Kleitias. This krater is named the “François Vase” after the archaeologist who found it in 1844. ” https://www.visitflorence.com/florence-museums/maf-archeological-museum.html
The François Vase Activity
Instructions on what to do: During class, students are introduced to ancient Greek pottery, and more specifically the importance and characteristics of the François Vase. This Activity is based on the classroom lectures, student research on the subject, and ultimately student creativity and imagination. So, ……
Step 1. Careful Observation – Students are asked to focus on the work of art projected on the screen. They are asked to look carefully and describe everything they see. The process should start with broad, open-ended questions like
What do you notice when you first look at the Minoan Pot? What else do you notice?
Questions should become more and more specific, such as:
Describe the pot’s shape. Where are its handles? Where is the wider part of the pot? Where is the narrower part? Is it symmetrical or asymmetrical? How is the pot decorated? What colours do you see? What patterns?
Step 2. Analysis – Students are asked to answer simple analytic questions that will deepen their understanding of the Ancient Greek Geometric Style Pot on view.
What might the figures on the top register of the pot be doing? How are the figures represented? Who might the figure on the top register and the centre of the vase be? Is it male or female? How is this figure different from the figures on the other side? What does the information the artist provided suggest about the identity of this figure? What might this pot have been used for? What clues can you get from its decoration? After each response, students are advised to always ask, “How do I know?” or “How can I tell?” so that they will look to the work of art for visual evidence to support their answers.
Step 3. Research – The teacher is asked to provide information on all discussed Ancient Greek Pots. Students should be given time to read and further research each pot. At the end of the research period, the teacher should be available to answer questions and further enhance student query.
The Ancient Greek Geometric Period (1100-800 BC) is characterized by monumental grave markers in the form of large vases decorated with geometricized patterns and motifs, funerary representations and burial rituals. These Geometric period vases are among the finest examples of ancient Greek pottery. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/14.130.14/
The François Vase is a unique example of ancient Greek pottery. An Attic Volute Krater, decorated in the black-figure style, dated about 570/560 BC, the François Vase was signed by its makers, “Ergotimos mepoiesen” and “Kleitias megraphsen”, meaning “Ergotimos made me” and “Kleitias painted me”. The vase presents over 200 mythological figures, many identified by inscriptions, representing a number of mythological stories. https://www.florenceinferno.com/the-francois-vase/
Made in Athens around 515 BC, the Euphronios Krater is a unique work of art. Signed by both the potter and the painter, the Krater is decorated with a Trojan War scene: the death of Sarpedon, son of Zeus. https://smarthistory.org/euphronios-krater/
Step 4. Interpretation – How to put together the Research, Analysis, and Observation students have done so far and reach a better understanding of the art object in focus. The truth is that there are no outright or wrong answers. The work students have done so far helps them better understand, and thus interpret the meaning of a work of art.
Some basic interpretation questions for this object might be: What does the size and elaborate decoration with 200 figures, many with identifying inscriptions, representing a number of mythological themes, tell us about the ways in which the ancient Greeks valued mythology? The Vase bears the inscriptions “Ergotimos mepoiesen” and “Kleitias megraphsen”, meaning “Ergotimos made me” and “Kleitias painted me”. What do the inscriptions tell us about the role of artists/craftsmen during antiquity?
Step 5. Critical Assessment and Response – It’s time to JUDGE how successful the work of art in focus is! This is an important part of the Learning Process and students are asked to answer the provided questions supporting their opinions based on their work is done so far. “Critical assessment involves questions of value.” For example:
Do you think this amphora is successful and well done? Why or why not? Do you like this work of art? How does it relate to your life and your culture?
For a PowerPoint on Learning from Ancient Greek Pottery… Click HERE!
For a student-friendly Activity Worksheet on Learning from Ancient Greek Pottery... Click HERE!
How the West met the East and how Impressionism was influenced by Japanese
My Summative Projects, I call them RWAP (Writing Research Art Project), ask students to focus on 4 parts: 1. Write a well thought Project Title 2. Provide colored copies of at least 2 artworks related to their Project, correctly identified. For the correct identification, I expect them to write the name of the artist (if known), the title of the work, date, medium, and current location, 3. Prepare the required Writing Assignment, 4. Do the Art Assignment which is open to student imagination and creativity.
For the Impressionism and Japonism RWAP Project students are asked to Investigate Impressionism and Japonism, and how the first was influenced by the second. Students are asked to focus on Monet’s painting La Japonaise exhibited in 1876, and attracting a lot of attention, of his wife Camille, dressed in a fine kimono, in front of a background of Japanese Uchiwe fans.
Japonism is the word used to describe the influence of Japanese art on European art and culture. Astounded by the great influence of Japanese art, the French journalist Philippe Burty wrote an article to describe strong European interest for Japanese artworks. The article was published in 1876 and the word Japonism became instantly popular. Students are asked to study the following articles:
The Writing Assignment for this RWAP on Impressionism and Japonism is to write about: A. A paragraph on fans in Japanese culture and art, the folding fan or the Uchiwa type, B. Why were fans so popular then? Was their use simply practical? How else were fans used by both men and women? Students can write about the use of fans in Japanese or European culture.
For student Art Assignment I can only suggest… decorate the pages of your RWAP Sketchbook, like Monet, with Uchiwa fans a or dazzle us with something glitzy like the Edo Screen. Most important… Be imaginative, Creative, Original!!!
How two great Roman statues can be used to discuss the Roman Government. “Augustus of Primaporta VS Aulus Matellus”is a Project my spirited Grade 6 students enjoy doing for their Social Studies Roman Unit.
A lot of my Projects, I call them RWAP (Research Writing Art Project), ask students to focus on 4 parts: 1. Title 2. Provide colored copies of at least 2 artworks related to their Project, correctly identified. For the correct identification, I expect them to write the name of the artist (if known), the title of the work, date, medium, and current location, 3. Writing Assignment as required, 4. Art Assignment is open to student imagination and creativity.
For the Augustus vs Matellus Project students are asked to study their Social Studies Textbook Unit on Roman Government, and the following Khan Academy articles:
Their Writing Assignment is to 1. Create a Ven Diagram comparing Matellus to Augustus. They are asked to use their RWAP Book and write in Bullet Points their Comments. 2. Write a paragraph presenting which of the two statues they prefer, explaining why by giving at least 3 reasons.
Their Art Assignment
is to “study” the two statues and… Be imaginative! Be creative! Be original!
The end of the Academic year approaches fast and my wonderful
Grade 5 students created an inspiring final Poster/Project on “Wildlife and
the Pindos Mountain.”
As the Grade 5 Host Country Studies teacher, I thoroughly enjoy exploring, along with my students, various aspects of Greek Cultural Geography! During the last 8 Lessons, we focused on the region of Epirus and its rich cultural heritage. We talked about the region’s geography, history, art, culture, heritage, and mythology. The “Wildlife and the Pindos Mountain” Activity was the Unit’s culminating student challenge. I believe they all passed with flying colors!!!
Enjoy PowerPoints and Student Activity. Bear in mind that it can easily be adapted for whichever Mountain, wherever in the world, you choose to explore!!
The following quote and site will introduce you to the Pindos Mountain National Park. “The park is, for the most part, a large wooded valley encircled by peaks, all over 2000 meters. Almost eighty species of birds live in the Pindos area, including the Imperial, golden, and short-toed eagles, the lanner falcons, the Egyptian vulture, and quite a few species of breeding woodpeckers. This is also one of the areas where bears, wolves, and wild cats are found, as well as red squirrels, wild boar, roe deer, beech martens, and otters (along the streams). A large variety of reptiles, amphibians, and insects complete the picture.” http://pindosnationalpark.gr/en/
ARCTUROS is a non-profit, non-governmental, environmental organization (NGO) founded in 1992, focusing on the protection of wildlife fauna and natural habitat, in Greece and abroad. The ARCTUROS site greatly helped students find information so as to finish their project. Explore their site… it’s amazing, as amazing is the work they do!