Take a couple of minutes, before we begin the course itself, to look at each of these four paintings. They're all quite different from each other, both in terms of when and where they were painted, and in terms of their subject matter.
Jot down a few immediate reactions to the paintings. What aspects of the painting strike you first? Don't worry if your reactions sound a bit vague at this stage; and don't worry if you don't know anything about the artist, the subject or the historical period when the paintings were made. We'll return to these paintings at the end of the course, and hopefully by then you'll have a much clearer sense of why the paintings produce these particular reactions.
I showed these paintings to some of my students, who had no experience of studying art; once you've noted down your own response, you can compare your reaction to theirs.
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Case Study 1: Duccio, Ruccellai Madonna (c. 1285) (Web Gallery of Art)
Case Study 2: Titian, Pieta (1575) (Web Gallery of Art)
Case Study 3: Vincent van Gogh, Bedroom at Arles (1889)(ABC Gallery)
Case Study 4: Jackson Pollock, Summertime Number 9A (1948) (Tate Modern)
Click here to read other students' responses. How do they compare to yours?
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This resource was created with the help of a University of Leeds Faculty of Arts Enterprise Knowledge Transfer Grant.
© Matthew Treherne, School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT