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Online resources for interpreting art.

Teaching students to interpret works of art and visual culture is an important aim of contemporary art education practice. The following sites offer useful interdisciplinary resources that can assist you and your students in achieving this goal.

The Warhol: Resources & Lessons

This site includes a variety of learning resources focusing on the life and work of Andy Warhol. In addition to lesson plans, art activities, and images of Warhol's work, there are downloadable Power Point presentations and interactive features that explore Warhol's penchant for collecting and silkscreen printing. Several of the lessons, written for all grade levels, involve students in critical analysis and in exploring how artists interpret source materials to comment on current events and politics.

Comparing and Contrasting

Art critics and historians often use comparisons to study and interpret works of art. In this lesson plan, one of several, middle school students use the compare and contrast strategy to interpret the meaning of two works of art from the Renaissance.

Drawing Political Cartoons

In this lesson plan, high school students analyze visual and language clues to determine the meaning of contemporary and historical political cartoons and then create their own political cartoons based on current events. Supporting materials, available as PDF files, include a rubric and a vocabulary list.


This site includes learning resources for teachers, kids, and teens that use the Whitney Museum's collection of twentieth and twenty-first century art. There's a gallery of images, a tool for creating your own online collections of Whitney images, a timeline, lesson plans and art-making activities, and a "How-To" section that offers guidelines and strategies for encouraging students to analyze and interpret works of art.

The Emperor Napoleon

In this interactive feature on NGAkids, young students discover how Jacques-Louis David used symbols in his painting of Napoleon to influence viewers' opinions of the emperor. They are then encouraged to do the same by painting a portrait of a friend, supposedly running for school president, that includes clues about his or her personality, interests, and talents.

George Washington

This site allows middle and high school students to explore the Lansdowne portrait of George Washington, painted by Gilbert Stuart, from three different vantage points: the symbolic, the biographic, and the artistic. Each perspective highlights an element in the portrait and provides unique information and a distinct interpretation. There is also an interactive site for younger students, which invites them to search for clues in the portrait that will help solve a make-believe mystery.

Telling Stories in Art

In these lessons, middle and high school students explore how artists use color, line, gesture, composition, and symbolism to tell stories. Students interpret and create their own narratives based upon works of art.

Pueblo Indian Watercolors

This online teacher's guide focuses on works from the Pueblo Indian watercolor collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM). It is intended to help students learn to interpret images and understand how images represent meanings. While only thumbnail images of the featured works are provided in the guide, you can find larger images of the same works by doing a title or artist search on the SAAM site.

Craig Roland is an associate professor of Art Education in the School of Art and Art History at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He is the author of The Art Teacher's Guide to the Internet (Davis Publications, 2005).
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Copyright 2007, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:All Levels: ArtEd Online
Author:Roland, Craig
Publication:School Arts
Article Type:Website list
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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