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Found 6,091 Collections


Hirshhorn Masterworks - The Body in Modern and Contemporary Art

Different interpretations of the body have been utilized by artists since the beginning of civilization, as a way to explore a sense of identity and the nature of representation. The human form has been depicted in many different ways since the time of traditional portraiture.

Arriving at the third floor of the museum, we are immediately confronted by Ron Mueck's huge, sculpture "Big Man", done in 2000. He is positioned in the corner, brooding and scowling at the viewers, who look back at him in amazement. His skin is so lifelike it seems to breathe, covered in imperfections like wrinkles, blue veins, cellulite, and age spots. He is larger than life, making the precise detail of his face and body amplified. This invites close inspection, forcing us to consider our own human flaws.

"Big Man" has an incredible story behind him. Mueck is Australian born artist working in London, creating hyperrealistic sculptures, usually with manipulated scale. His pieces are either much smaller or much larger than a typical human being. He uses this to add emotional emphasis: many of his pieces explore themes of loneliness, isolation, vulnerability, and transition. Mueck began working in special effects for TV and movies, most notably on the film "Labrynth", and on "Sesame Street". His work took a sharp turn when he exhibited his piece "Dead Dad" at "Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection" at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. A depiction of his own father after death, his size slightly reduced, it had a strong impact on viewers due to the figure's striking realism and dark subject matter.

"Big Man" actually originated from a mistake. Mueck was working with a model who struggled to execute the pose he wanted, due to his larger size. In a moment of frustration, the model sat in the corner, with his hands holding his head in annoyance. Mueck was struck by the intense paradox of this scene, a grown man appearing as a child being punished. He realized that this pose was exactly what he needed for his piece. Mueck usually doesn't work from life models, but this was an exception. The piece physically represents his sitter at the time: bald, hairless, and naked, with a strange yellow cast over him. "Big Man" was actually created in only four weeks, according to Mueck. In determining the scale, he photographed the original model and drew a small figure looking up at it. Realizing the potential power of the piece at this size, he decided to make him much larger. "Big Man" is made up of a number of different materials. First, Mueck creates sketches and clay models in order to determine the form. The form is molded from the original clay model in either fiberglass or silicone. Afterwards, he paints in detail and sculpts the eyes for his last step. The piece's placement within the gallery is pivotal, as he rests up against the corner and gazes out in annoyance. Mueck doesn't usually work from people as models - he generally uses photographs, anatomy texts, and his own imagination.

The next piece is by Willem De Kooning, titled "Two Women in the Country", done in 1954. When we approach the painting, we are initially aware of the figures due to their recognizable yet obviously distorted bodies. We can see exaggerated breasts, torsos, disproportionate legs, and faces that have muddy features, hidden in paint. Their bodies are a range of different warm colors: pinks, orange, and yellow, splashed against a green background. De Kooning was an artist from the Netherlands, coming to New York City and working in commercial art doing illustration. Eventually he abandoned this practice, painting as an abstract expressionist, stuck in between this label and experimenting with figuration. Featured on the backside of "Woman I" (1948) by De Kooning is an entirely black and white abstract piece, materializing his inner questions about style. Many people criticized his portrait series of women as misogynistic and harsh, portraying them with huge bulging eyes, teeth bared, and oversized breasts. The work has often been interpreted as De Kooning's catharsis and anger towards women. Many collectors have noted the holes and lacerations made in his works due to a very violent way of working. De Kooning has explained his works as interpretations of female icons. He has also stated that the "Women' series is a response to the traditional image of women in western art. Whether in ancient art or pop culture, he was interested with the images of women depicted throughout time.

Walking through, we approach a piece titled "Entrails Carpet" done in 1995 by Mona Hatoum. The piece is situated in the center of a gallery on the floor. Hatoum is from Lebanon, working in London making sophisticated sculptural pieces that deal directly with the body. This piece is made out of silicone rubber, an off white color, and has some opalescent properties as it interacts with light. Upon looking at it, we can see that what appears to be intestines weaving in and out like a traditional woven rug. It feels unsettling and paradoxical: sterile yet violent. Associating a rug or carpet with the comfort of home, Hatoum brings another element to it. We are immediately confronted with the inner working of our bodies, bringing us to awareness. Hatoum has created this piece in response to her previous years living in Palestine. She has detached familiarity and comfort from a domestic object because for her, it was never a place of reliability or safety, always in flux.

The last piece we'll look at is "Untitled (Anthropometry)" by Yves Klein, done in 1960. This piece is actually a remnant of a performance done by Klein in Paris. Insistent on the creation of a painting without the use of a brush or his own direct touch, he applied bright ultramarine pigment onto the bodies of young women and directed them onto the paper. The woman becomes like a stamp, however each one has it's own interesting pattern coinciding with their pressure upon contact. Different textures and thicknesses are created throughout the five forms. The paint began at their shoulders, and stopped a little bit before the knee, emphasizing the center of the form. Klein ended up putting a patent on this shade of blue in 1979, because he used it so frequently as a way to tie his work together. The color alludes to spirituality and infinity, relating to the sky. At this particular performance, Klein and his guests dressed formally, and listened to his piece "Monotone Symphony", where a single chord was played for twenty minutes, and nothing else but absolute silence for the other half of that duration.

Alexandra Baran

You Might Remember This Movie Quiz #44

These still pictures remind me of a motion picture. Which one? Click the question mark and take the quiz to see. Click each question to enlarge. Click the last box for the answer.

Smithsonian Movie Quiz

Art and Technology Projects for Museums and Classrooms: From "Today I Am Here" to "Discovering US/Descubriéndonos"

This collection contains assets and resources designed to help teachers (art, English, ESOL, social studies, and media technology), museum educators, and community-based informal learning educators recreate their own "Today I Am Here" project, based on the specific needs of their classroom or learning community. 

"Today I Am Here" is a project in which students make a handmade book from one piece of paper, that tells the story of how they got to where they are today. This project is wonderful in a classroom to show the breadth and diversity of the class, and to encourage cross-cultural understanding. 

Inside you will find instructions and images for the various components of the project, as well as samples of student work. 


Philippa Rappoport

Ethiopian History

9th Grade African Studies Class, Ethiopia Unit
Maureen Minard

Bloody Sunday: Selma and A March for Freedom

Sunday morning, March 7, 1965, several hundred protesters gathered in Selma Alabama planning to march to Montgomery in the hopes of obtaining federal protection for a voting rights statute. As the group, led by John Lewis and members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, approached the Edmund Pettus Bridge they were blocked by Alabama State Troopers and local police. The confrontation turned violent after law enforcement ordered the protesters to turn around and when they didn't comply they were assaulted with tear gas and beaten with billy clubs resulting in more than 50 people being hospitalized.

Key terms:
Civil Rights
Civil Rights Movement

Maureen Minard

Early Contact between Native American and Europeans

These materials are designed to accompany a Socratic Seminar associated with the AP United States History class Periods 1 & 2.
Maureen Minard

Did the Industrial Revolution Make Life Better for Everyone?

A collection focused on teaching the Industrial Revolution. The artifacts found in this collection are intended to be used as part of an Inquiry Design Model (IDM). Within the IDM, images could not only be used within staging the question, but also to help students build contextual knowledge under the supporting questions of (1) what changes were made in manufacturing, (2) how did society benefit from industrialization, and (3) what were the challenges society faced during industrialization? #C3Framework #TeachingInquiry
Jennifer Fraker


Chalene Hume

Civil Disobedience

This is a topical collection on the concept of civil disobedience. Users are invited to explore the theme of civil disobedience through texts from Sophocles, Shelley, and Thoreau and a variety of images.

Questions to consider:

-Does civil disobedience pose a threat to society?

-What examples of civil disobedience are portrayed here? What are some other examples?

-What is the role of civil disobedience in today's society?

-Some people prefer the phrase "passive resistance" to "civil disobedience." Compare and contrast these two terms.

-How does one measure the success of an act of civil disobedience? Policy change? Public influence?

-What role does violence play in civil disobedience?

Tags: King, Gandhi, protest, Birmingham, Greensboro, suffrage, Boston Tea Party, Antigone, Masque of Anarchy, Tambo, nun, Randolph, civil rights, Mexican-American War, Goldman

Kate Harris

Aquaponics: The interdependence of Soil Free Plants and Fish

Creating solutions for food deserts in urban communities
bonita mickens

Benefits of Soil

Soils are living, breathing, changing natural systems that form the basis for all land ecosystems—forests, deserts, wetland, tundra, etc.—and that enter into our daily lives in amazing ways.  This multi-step activity explores what is in our soils. You’ll have a chance to get your hands dirty through environmental awareness.
Cindy Long


how weather affects climate
Kathryn Bell


Missouri Forest Ecosystem, Cave Ecosystem
Michelle Cullum


Rock Collection
Marlo Braun

Water Cycle

Michelle Mosiman

First Collection

Team Science
Peter Norgren

Apollo Space Missions

Information about the Apollo space missions

Karen Prickett


Science unit 4
Erin Carrico

Wind Power

DeeAnn Moore


Facts and information about reptiles
Cathy Christiansen




A look at the Moon
Veronica Christiansen


To connect landforms found on Earth to other planets within the Milky Way Galaxy.
G.T. McDonald
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