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Art and Visual Culture expresses its key focus in its title it is a course about art but not only standard art it also includes aspects of visual culture Culture has many definitions listed in Encarta Dictionary one of which is the set of shared beliefs customs and attitudes of a group of people Art and Visual Culture aims to use cultural information to study the roles art plays in reflecting and shaping the societies in which it is created This endeavor requires the study of basic art history from ancient times to the present Throughout art history there are dominant themes that this course examines the most prominent are gender roles stereotyping and censorship A key goal of the class is to form personal opinions on issues that art history scholars debate today Readings done from a variety of sources provide the material to formulate opinions with both sides of the issue represented Before these complex issues can be discussed a primary knowledge of a working vocabulary is needed which learning how to look at art provides The first skill developed in the class is viewing art This includes the formal analysis of paintings architecture and sculpture The formal elements of art include composition color lighting texture line and illusionistic space The study of sculpture also includes other topics that involve the techniques used the form the relationship with space and scale Another aspect of looking at art is the representational elements They concern the subject matter and the expressive content of the work including poses actions and emotions Iconography is part of representational study that searches for conventional meanings One work studied intensely on this topic is Jan van Eycks Arnolfini Marriage Readings from two art critics reveal that there are different iconographic interpretations of this work Erwin Panofsky in Early Netherlandish Painting focuses on how history is reflected in the painting He comments on features such as the gestures of man the
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