History informs a work of art: who made it, when and where

History informs a work of art: who made it, when and where it was made, also how and why. These questions form the context for a work of art, or the reason for its’ creation. Also important is an artworks’ location, or where we encounter it. Looking a religious item, for example, is very different if viewing it in a museum as opposed to a sacred space.

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History is not just about the past. It is about our experience of time. The past is history that has happened, the present is history that is happening, and the future is history that is about to happen. Taken in this light, history is not static, or just about “what was,” it is also about “what is, and what might be.” History is dynamic and alive! Very often the future circumstances of a work of art can add layers of meaning unintended by the artist. 

All artworks, both utilitarian and aesthetic, provide a mirror to a culture. They tell us who we are, what we value, and what we believe. The history of art tells the story of the artist, the artwork, as well as the time and place in which the artist works. As such, learning the history of a work of art can add tremendous value to the appreciation of that work. 

Assignment Directions: 

Please read Chapter 4 (pages 92-96). 

After reading Chapter 4, visit online the  Dallas Museum of Art to select an artist from a culture of interest to you to write about. When selecting your artist, make sure you can search online to find information about them.

Essay Format


Identify the culture and artist you selected to write about for your essay. Include why you selected them and what you hope to learn. 

–Artist Biography 

Include information about the artist both personal and professional. For example, for personal, what was their date of birth, where did they grow up, what was their relationship history, etc. For professional, where did they go to school, any degrees received, where they worked, what art movements if any they were connected with, important professional connections such as art gallery affiliations, etc. 

–Cultural Background 

Provide information on the culture in which the artist works or worked. Be sure to include historical information regarding political and social events that occurred in that culture during the artist’s lifetime.  

–Art Work Focus

Introduce an artwork by the artist. Describe the artwork in depth. Include artwork specifics and identify / describe one element of art, one principle of composition, and one theme you feel are especially important to the artwork. Describe how and why. 


Concluding comments about what you learned as a result of your investigation of the culture and artist selected. 

Essay Requirements

Art work image and essay title.

Essay must meet minimum 750 words (3 pages double spaced typed 10 -12 point not including artwork image). You can use Word or PDF for this assignment. 

Citation Page with minimum three resources appropriately utilized and cited, 10-12 points typed. Wikipedia is not allowed for this assignment.

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