Art Lesson Plan: Make an Art History Time Line

Make an Art History Time Line

Submitted by: William Van Horn, Prairie Grove Middle School in Arkansas
UNIT: Art History - World Events
Lesson: Building an Art History Timeline
Grade level: Middle School through high school (adaptable for elementary)


Note: Grace Hall (high school) did this with American Art in conjunction with American History classes... Teaching American History through Art. Her units were very successful. Her approach was similar to this. Her student timelines lined the hallways so all students could see and learn right along with her art students and the history classes.


Building an Art History Timeline (In conjunction with What the heck is that artist up to?)
Grades 7-12

Drawing Pencils. and Scratch paper.
• Computer paper - Computer - Internet - Printer.
Masking Tape.
Permanent Markers. - post card art prints - calendar prints - digital images.

Resources:art hsitory timeline
• Computer with Internet access and color printer
• Handouts: examples of short biography with bibliography
• Optional: Add books and digital camera.
Art History Timeline graphic


Book: The Illustrated Timeline of Art History. - Filled with pictures of paintings, sculptures, museum artifacts, and architectural standouts, and a cross-cultural approach that encompasses European, American, Asian, and Islamic masterpieces, it proceeds on a thrilling visual tour.

• Culture - - a group of individuals with common bonds (e.g., family, friends, church group, country)
• Aesthetic - the compositional, thematic, and philosophical contents of an art work
• Social - the beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions of a culture
• Political - the laws, regulations and governmental policies of a culture


Students will cooperatively make a timeline on the wall that uses biographies of artists and images of their work in chronological order. Traditional and traditionally disenfranchised artists will be represented. Multiple classes, and even semesters, can add to the timeline. The research and report aspect of the timeline can be seen in the lesson plan "What the heck is that artist up to?"


Objectives: (Arkansas Dept. of Education Standards)

• Compare and analyze artists and their work to their contemporary aesthetic, social, and political concerns. (Grades 5 to 8 - 1.2.10., 1.3.11., 2.1.12., 2.1.13.) (Grades 9 to 12 - 2.1.17., 2.1.19.)
• Identify technological influences on artists and artwork. (Grades 5 to 8 - 1.3.8.) (Grades 9 to 12 - 2.1.18)
• Analyze and compare formal elements of the different artworks. (Grades 5 to 8 - 1.3.12. ) (Grades 9 to 12 - 2.1.16)


• On one wall of the classroom "draw" line using masking tape or a long ribbon of paper. Mark divisions of art historical periods, leaving more room for 20th Century art. (might be nice to get a roll of butcher paper - maybe for free from a grocery store).
• See What the heck is that artist up to? (Alternative method would be to draw names out of a hat.)
• Place report and reproduction in correct place on timeline. Make labels for artist's name and birth and death as well as title, medium, date, and dimensions of artwork (include image location - what museum etc)



Add images (from Internet) connecting to major world events - new technologies - inventions.
Timeline can be created by several classes and added to with more artists or details in subsequent years.

• Each student gives a brief report on their artist and the current events of the period.
• Class will compare artworks and how they relate to the aesthetics and political and social events of the time periods.

Critique questions:
• What technologies are evident in the artwork?
• How does the technique of this work relate to their subject matter?
• What is the artist trying to express? Is this successful?
• What are the ways we can approach art?
• How does the artwork relate to its time and culture?
• How does it reflect political activities at the time?
• How does the art work relate to other artworks of the time (aesthetics)?
• Why is this work important?
• How are you reacting to this and why?
• How good do I think this is?
• How do all of the works compare to each other? Similarities? Differences?
• Do you see a progression of techniques? Of ideas?
• What connections can I make to my own experience?
• How does art relate to life?


Extensions - World Cultures:

Where do the cultures students are studying fit in? What kind of art were they doing at the time of your more "western" ideas/approaches?



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