Art 101


Welcome to my homepage for Art 101, Art Appreciation. This course covers art from around the world, beginning with astonishing human creations made just after 30,000 BCE and ending with the sometimes controversial images made today.  Highlights include many masterpieces you may already be familiar with--The Great Pyramids, the Mona Lisa, Rodin's Thinker, and Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling, for example.  This course also considers important issues in the art world, including discussions on theft, forgery, the art market, censorship in the arts, looting and repatriation.  Because this is an appreciation course (rather than an art history course, which traces art developments chronologically), we often  view objects within the context of universal themes, such birth, death, marriage, politics, nature or fantasy.  Themes allow us to compare works from diverse cultures and to see what they may have in common.  We learn about religious architecture, for instance, by comparing Anasazi kivas, Gothic cathedrals, Islamic mosques and Greek temples.

Art 101 satisfies an Arts and Humanities requirement at  BCC, and is suggested for student majoring in art, photography, fashion design, computer graphics or any other art-related field.  It is also an excellent option for any Liberal Arts major in history, philosophy, religion, political science, education, anthropology, sociology, psychology or any other field focusing on human achievements, ideas and values.

Art 101 Incorporates Studies in Art from Around the World

In Art 101, we cover works from all parts of the world, and from all time periods, including art objects from Japan, China, Egypt, Peru, India, France, Germany, Mexico, and many other important locations, including sub-Saharan Africa.  Here is one example: The African Chiwara (right) is still used in agricultural rituals today.  The swelling lines of the animal's back are echoed in its horns, suggesting growth patterns in nature. Animal horns, we will discover, are fairly universal symbols of virility and reproduction. For information about Chiwaras, see:

Dali, Persistence of Memory, 1931, located  at
Art 101 Syllabus
Image Bank
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Repatriation: Should the Parthenon Marbles Be Sent Home?

Velazquez, Las Meninas: Open Composition

Velazquez's large painting of Las Meninas, (The Maids of Honor), is a 17th century Spanish Baroque picture in the Prado, Madrid. This painting is included in the Art 101 syllabus.  It is also a perfect example of an open composition.

An open composition involves the viewer directly, inviting him or her to interact with the figures in the art work.
 In an open composition, the space of the picture is continuous with the viewer's space.
Velazquez's open composition: In Velazquez's huge painting (above), measuring well over 10 feet x 9 feet, all the main characters look out into the viewer's space, making direct contact with us. It is as if we have just entered the room to join them.  In the center is the little princess, heir to the Spanish throne (detail right), with the maids of honor attending to her every need. Standing proudly to the left is the painter himself, Velazquez, and behind him on the back wall is a mirror reflecting the shadowy images of the King and Queen who have just come to visit the painter in his studio. Of course, this means we are standing in the same space as the King and Queen of the Spanish court.  Velazquez has made this a truly open composition  by putting us into the space with the royal family. The light of the open door in back also pulls us in, and  extends a further invitation for us to enter their private world.

Return to homepage