Masterpiece Cards in the Classroom2017-09-15T12:44:11+00:00

Masterpiece Cards in the Classroom

The Cards may supplant or supplement a survey textbook.  In either case, here are some ways in which they are used:

Above.  Hubert van Eyck and Jan van Eyck. Detail of Ghent Altarpiece.  Completed 1432. Tempera and oil on wood,  11'6" by 15'1".  Cathedral of St. Bavo, Ghent.

Hubert van Eyck and Jan van Eyck. Detail of Ghent Altarpiece.  Completed 1432. Tempera and oil on wood,  11’6″ by 15’1″.  Cathedral of St. Bavo, Ghent.

To introduce visual analysis: Hand each student a group of ten Cards. Show a sample Card, and ask a student to select from his Cards a work that shares a characteristic with the sample. (i.e. in value, proportion, composition, etc.). The next student matches the first student’s selection, and so on.

To identify art historical terminology: ask students to find Cards that illustrate specific terms.  Define chiaroscuro – and see if they identify it in la Tour’s Magdalen with the Smoking Flame, Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, and Caravaggio’s The Conversion of St. Paul, for instance.

To easily identify personal tastes.  Let each student peruse the Cards to select a painting to research.  Or to present to the class.  Or both.

To isolate influences on a painter or art movement: Lay out Cards from one art movement (i.e. Late Renaissance) and challenge students to find earlier influences (i.e. in early and high Renaissance works).

To practice writing art essays: hand students three random Cards; ask them to choose two and write an essay assessing similarities and differences between them.

To create exams unique to each student: provide three Cards per student. Have each arrange the works chronologically, and explain how the paintings are linked art historically. Guaranteed that there won’t be cheating!

For reviewing:

1. with a partner: numerous variations include a. One student reads the commentary on the back of the Card and his partner guesses which painting is being described.  b. “Mystery Painting Hang Man”.

2. in teams: 

a. as Bingo. Each team creates 15 rectangles on 18 x 24″ paper. Label each cell with different art movements, vocabulary words, etc. such as High Renaissance, tenebrism, Mannerism. Divide the class into teams, providing each a random stack of Cards and play Bingo. The winners explain their choices to the class.

b. as timeline.  Provide 20 random Cards (painting side up!) to teams of students.  Challenge them to create art history timelines.

c. to identify isms. Label index cards with different periods and “isms” of art history.  Allocate the Cards to teams of students, and have them align each painting with its “ism”.

And that’s just for starters.

AP Art History Classes Experiment with Masterpiece Cards

Pablo Picasso. Girl Before a Mirror, 1932.  Oil on canvas, 5'4" by 4' 3 1/4".  Museum of Modern Art, New York.  Gift of Mrs. Simon Guggenheim.

Pablo Picasso. Girl Before a Mirror, 1932.  Oil on canvas, 5’4″ by 4′ 3 1/4″.  Museum of Modern Art, New York.  Gift of Mrs. Simon Guggenheim.

Results? For starters, the majority felt their performance on the AP art history exam improved with Masterpiece Cards.

Read more about these AP art history students.

The Cards may supplant or supplement a survey textbook.  In either case, here are some ways in which they are used:

To introduce visual analysis: Hand each student a group of ten Cards. Show a sample Card, and ask a student to select from his Cards a work that shares a characteristic with the sample. (i.e. in value, proportion, composition, etc.). The next student matches the first student’s selection, and so on.

To identify art historical terminology: ask students to find Cards that illustrate specific terms.  Define chiaroscuro – and see if they identify it in la Tour’s Magdalen with the Smoking Flame, Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, and Caravaggio’s The Conversion of St. Paul, for instance.

To easily identify personal tastes.  Let each student peruse the Cards to select a painting to research.  Or to present to the class.  Or both.

To isolate influences on a painter or art movement: Lay out Cards from one art movement (i.e. Late Renaissance) and challenge students to find earlier influences (i.e. in early and high Renaissance works).

To practice writing art essays: hand students three random Cards; ask them to choose two and write an essay assessing similarities and differences between them.

To create exams unique to each student: provide three Cards per student. Have each arrange the works chronologically, and explain how the paintings are linked art historically. Guaranteed that there won’t be cheating!

For reviewing:

1. with a partner: numerous variations include a. One student reads the commentary on the back of the Card and his partner guesses which painting is being described.  b. “Mystery Painting Hang Man”.

2. in teams: 

a. as Bingo. Each team creates 15 rectangles on 18 x 24″ paper. Label each cell with different art movements, vocabulary words, etc. such as High Renaissance, tenebrism, Mannerism. Divide the class into teams, providing each a random stack of Cards and play Bingo. The winners explain their choices to the class.

b. as timeline.  Provide 20 random Cards (painting side up!) to teams of students.  Challenge them to create art history timelines.

c. to identify isms. Label index cards with different periods and “isms” of art history.  Allocate the Cards to teams of students, and have them align each painting with its “ism”.

And that’s just for starters.