Monday, July 23, 2012

Spotlight on Rembrandt and Artists Beit Midrash

Do you recognize these works? They are the competition panels for the
baptistery doors of the Florence cathedral, dating early fifteenth century.

This year in my AP Art History class, I'm going to be adding two new features: Spotlight on Artists and an Artists Beit Midrash. The point of the latter will be to integrate Jewish texts into the course and to enable the students to gain familiarity with media and materials. I've discussed media in my art history classes a lot, but since I want my all my courses to be much more experiential (and because I want to play with paints, too!), I thought allowing the students to be hands-on with materials would be fun and instructional. Frisch has a fantastic art teacher, Mrs. Ahuva Mantell, so I know she's going to make the experience meaningful on an academic and artistic level.

Spotlight on Artist #1:
Here's a PowerPoint presentation that spotlights Rembrandt and that gives students an understanding of baroque art and Rembrandt's greatness as an artist:


My first Artists Beit Midrash presentation has students read Chapter 22 from Genesis, look at four different works that depict the sacrifice of Isaac and analyze what the artists chose to include in their compositions. What I think is interesting for students to note in the analysis is compositional choices such as:

1) placement of the knife (near Isaac's neck, away from it)
2) position of Isaac's face (in one rendition Abraham's hand completely covers Isaac's face, so he doesn't have to see his son, yet Abraham is rendered so powerfully, one has the sense he's not hesitating to do God's command. Those compositional choices give the painting great tension.)
3) figures in the works (Abraham, Isaac, the angel, the ram, the servants (!))
4) placement of the figures


Mrs. Mantell introduced me to the idea of an Artists Beit Midrash (ABM), but this summer I've grown even more enamored with the concept because of the ABM I've been following at Brandeis University's HS Summer Program, BIMA. Here are the blog posts about Brandeis' Artists Beit Midrash:

Brandeis High School Summer Program: Artists Beit Midrash

To view my new AP Art History blog, with the flipped classroom and homework assignments I'm preparing for my students, visit:

Tikvah Wiener's AP Art History Blog

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