Art production has been the basis of art education in the United States for decades. In some cases,
exploration of media and self-expression has been the goal of art education. According to recent
Standards and Goals written by many states and by Goals 2000, art production is only part
education. It is used as an opportunity for students to put into tangible and contextual form the
concepts and skills they learn from by discussing art objects, art history, art criticism, and aesthetics.
Questions about art production are part of any consideration of an artwork. Such questions include:
How was it made?
Of what materials is it made? (choice, availability to the artist, suitability to image)
What size is it?
How is it placed (if installed)?
What colors were used?
These are often the most obvious questions and sometimes the easiest to answer but often they do
not communicate too much about the meaning of the artwork. Ana analysis of these formal elements
can be used as a tool to begin a discussion in order to focus the viewer's attention on the physical
aspects of the work of art.
Questions about art history can help to place the artwork within the context of other artworks that
were being produced at the same time, either within the indigenous culture, or outside it. Comparing
figurative works, for example, created during the same time period from five different countries
teaches us about all these cultures. The following events impact the way art looks, its subject matter,
and the materials from which it is made.
Politics (wars, invasions, imperialism)
Social changes (economic depressions, population shift, new technologies)
Philosophical shifts (religious influence, influence of media, educational theories)
Alternatively, studying a variety of works by a single artist created over time can bring an apprecia-
tion of development of style, approaches to media, and shifts in approaches to subject matter.
Here are some sample questions in art history:
When was this object made?
Who made it?
Where was it made?
Did other artists make similar objects?
Who bought or used the object?
Where and how was it used?
Is this object typical of the artist? The time? The place?