Case Study
Historical Overview
• An term icon traditionally applies to a religious
image of a saint painted on wood with tempera.
• The word icon derives from the Greek eikon,
which translates as “likeness”, “image” or
• During the Byzantine period (A.D. 330-1700’s)
the Orthodox Greek and Russian churches
placed icons on an elevated surface .
• Iconoclasts or Image-breakers, demanded that
religious images be removed from churches as
their presence caused idolatry.
• The iconoclast movement (8th-9th century)had the
support of the emperors.
• The destruction was extensive and included panel
paintings, frescoes, mosaics and illuminated
• Only a small number of icons from the 5th and 6th
century were not destroyed.
Icons and symbolism
• In early Christian times many people
were illiterate and so churches encoded
religious paintings with symbols to
“speak” to parishioner.
• The audience was very familiar with the
coding of the artworks and had a strong
sense of visual communication.
A medieval painting workshop
would have resembled a science
Artists made all of their own
tools and materials, including
their paints.
Master painters took on
apprentices to do much of the
work of preparing materials. In
exchange for their labor in the
workshop, the apprentices
learned the techniques of
painting from the master painter.
Russian artists used egg yolk
mixed with colored pigments to
create egg tempera paint.
Pigments were made from
ground minerals and other
elements, prepared and blended
according to a specific recipe.
Because egg tempera dries very
quickly, artists had to paint small
areas at one time.
Source: Guggenheim Museum
Structural: Artist
The artist adheres to a procedural practice and employs a formalist system of
visual language, using symbols that communicate meaning
Structural: Artwork
Artworks are the medium for communication through signs and symbols. They
are constructions of pictorial devices that communicate artistic principles.
They exhibit material processes.
Structural: Artist
The structural world is a source of symbols and signs that are employed by
artists. Codes and conventions in the world form the visual language of
Structural: World
Audiences decode the meanings of artworks where they are cognisant with the
language of its symbols. They read meaning through compositional systems,
materials and processes.
The class will break into four
even discussion groups. Each
group will take one of the
questions on this page (1-4) and
discuss. When working in
groups create a page of ideas in
bullet points and have your
group do some additional
research which will provide you
with enough material to do a
class presentation.
Work can include images and
can be presented with the aid of
visual resources and ICT’s.
Deesis : The Greek word for a humble request or prayer. This tier of an iconostasis
would include a representation of Christ Enthroned between the Virgin Mary and Saint
John the Baptist, who was thought to be able to intercede on behalf of humans.
Egg tempera : a painting medium that uses colored pigments, ground into powder and
mixed with egg yolks, to create paint. Bright colors are derived from minerals including
cinnabar (red), lapis lazuli (blue), and malachite (green).
Icon : Derived from the Greek, meaning any image or likeness, but commonly used to
designate a panel representing Christ, the Virgin Mary, or a saint venerated by Orthodox
(Eastern) Christianity.
Iconoclasts: Group of society who called for the destruction of icons and other religious
Iconostasis : in Eastern Christian churches, a screen separating the main body of the
church from the altar; it was usually decorated with icons whose subject matter and
order were largely predetermined.
Source - The Guggenheim Museum Online –
•The Face of Russia. Companion to the PBS series focusing on Russian culture.
•Russian Painting. A site designed by Dr. Alexander Boguslawski, Rollins College,
Winter Park, Florida http://www.rollins.edu/Foreign_Lang/Russian/ruspaint.html
•The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Includes information about
their extensive collections and virtual tours.
•The Society of Tempera Painters. Technical and historical information on the
use of egg tempera. http://www.eggtempera.com.
•The State Tretyakov Gallery is the national treasury of Russian fine art.
The collection consists of more than 130 000 works of Russian art.
•Index of Russian art, with images of Russian paintings.
•Source - The Guggenheim Museum Online –
• http://www.guggenheim.org/artscurriculum/lessons/russian_L1.php
Kasmir Malevich
• Kazimir Malevich was a
Russian artist born in Kiev
on February 28, 1878.
• In 1905 he moved to
Moscow, where he studied
religious icons with great
• He wrote: "Moscow icons
turned over all my
theories and brought me
to my third stage of
• In early 1913, he started to
become interested in
• In July 1913, he was
invited to create the
costumes and sets for the
opera, Victory over the
Sun .
• These works marked the
beginning of his
Suprematist period. His
style moved from the
figurative to the abstract.
• At the time Malevich was
developing Suprematism,
Russia was experiencing
serious social upheaval.
The Icon through the Subjective
Subjective: Artist
The artist is motivated by feelings, intuition, emotional experiences and
imagination. Their responses in making artworks are expressive and
sometimes spontaneous responses to their world
Subjective: Artwork
Artworks are places where emotions and evocations reside. Artworks are
sensational or expressively confronting. They conjure up memories and
Subjective: World
The world is the place of imaginings, fantasy, passion, spirituality personal
memories and associations as a source for representations
Subjective: Audience
The audience finds personal and emotional connections with artworks. They
reflect on their memories and associations. Meaning and value is gauged by
emotional response of the viewer.
Questions for Group Summary
The Subjective Frame & The Conceptual Framework
Students break into groups of four with each student choosing one aspect of
the Conceptual framework and answering the question that applies to their
agency (either the Artist, Audience, Audience, World). Once the group has
collected and shared their material, each student writes a summary of their
Artist: How does the artist express his own experiences?
Artwork: What emotive responses does the artwork provoke? Why?
Audience: How important is an emotional response to an artwork?
World: Are the spiritual, psychological, emotive and aesthetic sensibilities of
the audience and the artist related to world events? How?
Source: Revise HSC visual art in a month - Craig Malyon
• Abstract Art: the construction of art objects from non-representational
(geometric) forms. The reduction of natural appearances to simplified
• Constructivism: An abstract movement in sculptural art founded by
Antoine Pevsner and Naum Pevsner (GABO) on their return to Russia
in 1917.
• Suprematism: An abstract movement launched in Russia by Kasimir
(Casimir) Malevich in 1913, maintaining that painting should be only
from the geometrical elements the rectangle, circle, triangle, and cross.
• Source: The Oxford Companion To Art, 1970.
Suggested Further Reading
• Andersen, Troels. Malevich (exh. cat.). Amsterdam:
Stedelijk Museum, 1970.
• D'Andrea, Jeanne, ed. Kazimir Malevich 1878–1935 (exh.
cat.). Los Angeles: Armand Hammer Museum of Art and
Cultural Center; Seattle: University of Washington Press,
• Douglas, Charlotte. Kazimir Malevich. New York: Harry
N. Abrams, 1994.
• Hilton, Alison. Kazimir Malevich. New York: Rizzoli,
• Milner, John. Kazimir Malevich and the Art of Geometry.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.
Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) was a French artist who lived most of his life in Paris and
New York.
After one of his artworks was rejected from a cubist exhibition he set on a new course of
artmaking that did not require the approval of others.
Duchamp entered his artwork “Fountain” (anonymously, it was signed R. Mutt) in the
1917 Society of Independent Artists Exhibition “The Big Show”. It was rejected from
the exhibition and once again set Duchamp on a path of “anti-art” creation.
• Duchamp’s inclination to push
the boundaries of artistic
conventions continued with his
manipulation of a postcard
image of the Mona Lisa
(L.H.O.O.Q, 1919).
• This technique became known
as “appropriation.”
• This concept of an artist making
manipulating another artists
work gained prominence in
American Conceptual art of the
• Today appropriation in art is
common and is defined as a
convention of
• The irony today is that
Duchamp’s original artwork
L.H.O.O.Q. is now worth a
The Icon through the Cultural Frame
Cultural: Artist
The artist depicts socially collective ideas and beliefs. Artistic practice is
informed by cultural deals of style or artistic expression, which is often a
historical phenomenon.
Cultural: Artwork
Artworks are the products of culture, socialist expressions of ideas, beliefs.
They represent community interests, for example about religion, gender and
events. They are historical records.
Cultural: World
The cultural world is informed by institutions; religious, educational and
political. Galleries, media and technology are part of the cultural dynamic.
Collective ideology and identity influence art making
Cultural: Audience
Audiences are art consumers; collectors, critics, patrons, curators and
historians. Art is assessed by its cultural, political and economic value in the
Practice – Art Criticism
• The readymade is Duchamp's way of creating Dada anti-art. He
wishes to counter the pre-conceived notion that art must have
personal expression ("I wanted to get away from the stink of artist's
egos") by removing all traces of the artist's hand. He thereby
challenges bourgeois assumptions of originality, authorship, craft
and skill, taste, precious materials, uniqueness, and even gender
certainty, since he suspends Mona between male and female here.”
• Dr. Karen Kleinfelder / Professor of Art History, California State
University Long Beach
• “Unlike more traditional works of art, which rely primarily upon
visual comprehension for understanding their importance — and,
thus, financial value — a work by Duchamp (particularly the
readymades) relies upon more complicated processes of thought.”
• Marcel Duchamp- Money Is No Object: The Art of Defying the Art
Market by Francis M. Naumann.
• “Marcel Duchamp shifted the epicentre of Art from making an
object to choosing an object and so questioned the distinction
between Art and non-Art objects.”
• Michael Carter – Framing Art
Practice and Art Criticism
• Art criticism is concerned with the expression of evaluative judgments
about artworks and the critical exploration of issues in the art world. It
allows for an opportunity to interpret and evaluate works by expressing
responses, systematic analysis and value judgments about artworks.
• Writing about art is a self-conscious attempt to make more sense of art.
• Writng from the Cultural Frame relates the artwork through values
and beliefs embedded within a specific context of society, e.g. race,
gender, class, economics, politics, principles.
• Student Activity
• Referencing the critical writings on the previous page take
on the role of the critic. Pretend you are viewing the
works of Marcel Duchamp for the first time and write a
half a page review of his exhibition. Writing should be
focusing on the cultural frame.
• Readymade – a found object which an artist situates in a gallery
• Appropriation -manipulating or adjusting somebody elses work, then
claiming the final work as your own.
• Anti-art is the definition of a work which may be exhibited or
delivered in a conventional context but makes fun of serious art or
challenges the nature of art.
• A work such as Marcel Duchamp's Fountain of 1917 is a prime
example of anti-art. It is a Dadaist work of art. Much of Dadaism is
associated with the quality of being anti-art. While the Dada movement
per se was generally confined to Western Europe in the early 1900s,
anti-art has a wider scope.
• Since then various avant-garde art movements have a position on antiart and the term is also used to describe other intentionally provocative
art forms, such as nonsense verse.
• Anti-art source: Wikipedia
Websites for further research
• Andrew Stafford: Making Sense of Marcel Duchamp - animated
• Marcel-Duchamp.com Étant donné - annual review published by
L'association pour l'etude de Marcel Duchamp.
• Toutfait: The Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal
• MarcelDuchamp.org - Personal website dedicated to Duchamp.
• MarcelDuchamp.net - Art Science Research Laboratory site about
researching Duchamp.
• Marcel Duchamp - Olga's Gallery pages with biography and images.
• Marcel Duchamp Rotoreliefs - animated.
• The Essential DADA: Marcel Duchamp - biography and images
• Andy Warhol was born Andrew
Warhola in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, in 1928.
• His family came from
Czechoslovakia (now known as
The Czech Republic).
• In 1945 he entered the Carnegie
Institute of Technology (now
Carnegie Mellon University)
where he majored in pictorial
• Upon graduation, Warhol
moved to New York where he
found steady work as a
commercial artist.
• Warhol befriended wealthy
patrons who commissioned him
to create large-scale portraits of
• The portraits were made by
transferring a photographic
image onto a silk-screen and
printing with ink.
• This type of printmaking had
not traditionally been used by
artists before the 1960’s.
• Many of Warhol’s iconic
images were of famous actors.
• Warhol became famous for the
statement “In the future
everyone will be world-famous
for 15 minutes.”
“What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy
essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that
the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola,
too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the
corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the
President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”
– The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: (From A to B and Back Again), 1975,
• Warhol took banal images
from everyday life and
elevated them to the “
• With his background in
advertising he was able to
“ sell” his new concepts
and challenged artistic
conventions about what
could be considered a
worthy subject for
Postmodern: Artist
Artists question mainstream values and beliefs. They parody or challenge
artistic conventions. They question originality
Postmodern: Artwork
Postmodern artworks are unconventional; they up-end their relationship with
audiences. They recontextualise previous ‘texts’ and narratives. They question
notions of originality and the masterpiece.
The postmodern world is a clash of viewpoints, that challenge authoritarian
notions. It is an eclectic world that parodies and satirises conventional ideas. It
is a world of the simulacrum
Audiences are agencies who question the power figures in the artworld. They
accept multiviewpoints and reject traditional artistic wisdom
• Discussion Questions:
• Compare and contrast the formal aspects of the portraits
(e.g., Warhol’s use of colour and shape, each artworks
overall balance and unity, and the sitters’ poses)
• Andy Warhol not only made portraits from photographs he
shot himself, but also from images he appropriated from
mass media. What portraits do you see all the time on the
television and in magazines and newspapers?
• What effect does this repetition have on culture?
• Are there different types of fame? Which type is most
• If you could make a portrait of anyone in the world, who
would it be? Why?
Websites for further research
Warhol Foundation in New York, New York.
The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Warhol Family Museum in Medzilaborce, Slovakia
Two short articles about Warhol's 2002 museum
retrospective from the art magazine "X-TRA"
• Andy Warhol at Gagosian Gallery
• Time Capsules: the Andy Warhol collection
• Andy Warhol at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Postmodernism - Appropriation
of the iconic “Mona Lisa”
High Brow vs. Low Brow
• One lasting device of
postmodernism is to
appropriate or modify
an already famous
image or icon.
• Added to this are the
elements of high-brow
vs. low-brow. Which
brings a clash of
cultures, sensibilities
and aesthetics.
Yasumasa Morimura An example of an artist who works
from the Postmodern Frame. He appropriates and parodies the
conventions of Western art history
• CriticalAnalysis.doc
Australian Icons
Essay Questions
Please choose one essay topic, using the relevant supporting document to plan your
Frames (25 marks)
Evaluate the ways different artists represent ideas and interests in the world through the
development of a visual language.
Conceptual Framework (25 marks)
‘Museums exist in order to acquire, safeguard, conserve and display objects, artefacts
and works of art of various kinds.’ Peter Vergo,art writer and curator)
Critically assess this statement with reference to role(s) that galleries and/or museums
and/or collections play in the artworld.
Practice (25 marks)
Evaluate the use of different materials and techniques in the development of an artist’s
body of work.
*All questions sourced from the NSW Board of Studies HSC examinations.