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Representational, Abstract, or Nonrepresentational?

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Visual Arts Age Levels Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

Introductory Activity: Print image cards for small group collaboration. Students will sort images into three categories:

  1. Representational Art (realistic imagery)
  2. Abstract Art (recognizable imagery that does not reflect actual appearance)
  3. Nonrepresentational Art (does not represent a depiction of the physical appearance of people or objects)

Formal Analysis Activity: 

Choose a few images to compare and contrast: How did the artist use line, shape, color, balance, repetition, or overall composition to convey

  1. The illusion of movement or rhythm
  2. Visual tension
  3. A mood or feeling


White River at Sharon

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Berkeley No. 22

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Girl in Swing

Smithsonian American Art Museum

People in the Sun

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Blue, Orange, Red

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Composition (from the Fourth Bauhaus Portfolio)

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Hibiscus with Plumeria

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Ocean Park, No. 6

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Delmonico Building

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Manhattan

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Modern Head #2

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Modern Head #1

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Self-Portrait

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Willem de Kooning

National Portrait Gallery

Woman in a Hat (Marie-Thérèse Walter)

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Indian in the Snow

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Indian and Contemporary Chair

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Cabinet Makers

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Painting: Still Life

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Still Life

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Still Life

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Diamond Chroma (from "New York Ten" portfolio)

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Mizzar

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Art Sort Cards

Jean-Marie Galing