Unit 1 Summary

Unit one was about Formal Analysis and Paolo Friere, Born in Recife, Brazil and was a person in poverty. Paolo studied about law but never practiced it and worked as a professor in many universities. He was also imprisoned and exile during the military coup in Brazil. Paolo published Pedagogy of the Oppressed by 1968 and explains about the banking model, students are depositories and the teacher being the depositor. The banking model explains the communication and knowledge being given by inventions of re-invention through education. It was a concept to send out education to the students being taught by the teacher who teaches it. John Dewey, who believed the opposite way of how education is being taught. He believed education is not the correct way to prepare yourself in life. I understand it from that point of view because you can also understand something if you physically do it and education doesn’t teach everything you need to know in life. The schools don’t teaches you how to file taxes and fill out application, which is essential in life because as a grown up you need to know how to do these things by yourself. John Dewey also believe there should be a meaningful experience in learning through education to not fail from his or her mistakes on success.

Unit 1 Summary

In Unit 1, we discussed the importance and components of formal analysis and examined different artifacts from ancient Neo-Sumerian civilization. Formal analysis is often used by art critic and interpreters to determine the purpose of the artwork and overall motivation behind the artist. Components that are studied to analyze the artwork include: composition, historical context, color scheme, contrast, and symbolism. Interpreting most of the elements of the artwork will give the viewer a better understanding of artist and his intentions behind the artwork. Most of the artifacts examined in class from ancient Sumeria held a significant amount of spiritual and class symbolism. In statues like the Statue of Gudea (2150 BCE), the depiction of the divine and spirituality is blatantly shown. The statue is a depiction of Gudea in a vulnerable and accepting position showing his openness to listen to his subjects. The crown placed on his head is symbolic for the divine. From this, we can conclude that the spiritual aspect of life had a huge influence on lives of Sumerians. In other artifacts, there was a display of class status in their civilization. For example, the Standard of Ur was a piece that showcased this class division. The artifact showed the distinct separation of the upper, middle, and lower class. The division is further illustrated through the difference in the attires worn, the occupations expected, and the responsibilities they performed. Not only was spirituality important in Sumerian society, but also class distinction.

Unit Summary

The banking model is as Paulo Freire puts it is meant to simplify the communication of knowledge considered to be mandatory by the state to the developing population of children. Considering the book’s contents: it is simple to say that Paulo Freire saw this mode of education as an insufficient one. Not being a ‘proper’ education. It empower figures of authority in the students’ minds. The students become complacent with the role of receiver and so-on.

The purely visual aspect of art can be broken down into neat categories using formal analysis. That is pretty neat if I do say so myself; I have indeed said the previous sentence. The banking model of education seems to be the most simple to implement as opposed to any concentrated effort put into each student. It really does seem that way. When I say ‘that way’ I of course refer to the previous sentence. There is a lot of context behind just about every choice made in the visual arts. Context is very important. The materials used in a sculpture is indicative of what the crafts-person had access to. The mole-men despise those who would yearn for more. The banking model of education isn’t necessarily malevolent even if weak. I sure did learn something about artwork and it is all so very close to my heart. Much like the mole-men: I will always return to all of this throughout my life. I’m not sure what the banking model of education has to do with CUNY’s pathways common core–but I’m sure there is something.

Unit #1 Summary

The first unit of Art 1010 taught me a lot about the fundamentals of art and how one can interpret a piece of art work. The two main topics that we focus on throughout the unit were Critical Pedagogy and Formal Analysis. Critical Pedagogy was established in 1968 thanks to the publishing of Paolo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”. Critical Pedagogy is the ideal form of teaching in which the students are equal to the teachers instead of being under them. This ideal form of teaching gives the students freedom to question their teachers about what they are being taught instead of them just sitting quietly without actually comprehending what they are taught, this improper way of teaching is known as the Banking Model.

The Banking Model is the complete opposite of Critical Pedagogy. The Banking Model is a form of teaching in which the teacher deposits information into the students who are empty vessels patiently waiting to receive, memorize, and repeat the information they have been given. Paolo Freire, along with others, believed that the Banking Model was an improper way of teaching because the students never actually gain any knowledge from the information they are given. Instead of actually learning and comprehending what they are taught they take the information they are given, memorize it and use it to get good grades on test. Once they are done with the test and no longer need the information they forget about it and instead focus on other information that they’ll need for another test later on, this is a cycle that is repeated constantly in the Banking Model. Although it has been half a century since Critical Pedagogy was established it is still important to me and others in society today since improper forms of teaching, such as the banking model, are still being used today. Schools and society in general still have the mindset that the higher GPA that someone has the smarter they are but in reality this isn’t true since someone’s GPA measures how well they do in school not how intelligent they truly are.

Formal Analysis was another one of our main focuses throughout this unit. Formal Analysis is when someone tries to understand what the artist is wanted to portray in their work. By using features of a piece of art such as color, line, scale, contrast, position, material, illusion, space and mass we can try to understand what an artist tried to convey in their creation. An example of formal analysis is when we observe the colors used in a piece of art. Artist use cold colors, such as blue and grey, to portray a negative/sad mood and them also use warm colors, such as red and orange, to portray a positive/happy mood. A different type of analysis that can be connected to Formal Analysis is Contextual Analysis. Contextual Analysis is when someone uses external resources such as articles, other works of art, journals, and artist writings to try and understand what a certain piece of art is about. These external resources can also be used to gather information about when a piece of art was created and what the artist wanted to convey to others about the era they in which they their artwork off.

Unit 1 Summary

Throughout the entirety of Unit 1 in our Art History class, we had gone over a variety of topics. The material looked over many subjects, ranging from Formal Analysis to Pedagogy and everything in between. We were able to learn how art was viewed by many different civilizations, as well as how to fully understand and delve deeper into the pieces created for ourselves. It was made clear that art is an open expression, and what it may mean to someone varies depending on their views. Art can be put out in music, films, and many other different ways according to what the creator may see it as.

Formal Analysis being the first topic of discussion in our Art History class, opens us up to a new technique of achieving more insight on a plethora of art pieces. It’s essentially the process of analyzing a painting, sculpture, etc. through a variety of different questions to answer, furthering our insight on the piece at hand. It helps us bring out the smaller details in a work of art, and begin to analyze them all together, which eventually leads us into the understanding of the piece as a whole. After bringing to light even the most minuscule points of interest, we are able to begin to piece together the story/situation being presented. It’s very clearly an effective way to go about understanding a painting’s meaning, and honestly can be used in figuring out the meaning in any form of art, whether it be a film or a song. The questions may vary, but the outcome of the method will always remain the same.

Pedagogy, on the other hand, is most commonly known for the role it played in Paolo Freire’s ideologies as well as in his book on the critical pedagogy, named Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The main idea followed throughout his teachings and ideologies center what both students and teachers are able to gain from each other. He believes that if students can deepen their understanding of the world around them, by learning the meaning of the worldly expression of people’s ideas, values, and feelings throughout a timeframe in history, the teachers (himself included) would be able to gain insight on their students perspective. Giving them a deeper understanding of how they process, and retain information. He sees them as vessels that input and output knowledge, teaching not only themselves but the people around them as well.

In conclusion, Unit 1 of our Art History class has been a very informative look into the start in the history of art and has gotten us ready to delve deeper into the curriculum to come.

Unit 1 Summary


What I learned in unit one was formal analysis and banking model. These are things that have open my mind in the way I see art or how I see certain things in the world, like the education system.  Education or teaching can be viewed as a banking model. The banking model was used by Paulo Freire to describe a system in which students are the depositories and the teachers is the depositor. An example is a teacher tells a student how to do spell, depositing their knowledge onto the student, while the student receives, memorize or deposit the information. It’s similar to the banking of the depositing your money into an atm machine. Paulo Freire argued that this model reinforces a lack of critical thinking and knowledge  of ownership in students, which can turn into oppression.

With Formal analysis I look at art differently. When I look at an art piece I look at the color, lines, scale, model, and the historical context so I can have an understanding of the visual description. Looking at the Titian, Venus of Urbino of 1538 I see a naked woman laying on the bed with a dog that is asleep. In the background that it appears to be a woman on both her knees cleaning while a lady above her, who looks to have some to be giving out demands to the lady cleaning. The color that I see is red, and white which seem to be the main colors. The stroke and lines seem to calm and smooth while the model of the naked woman also seems to be calm and relax. From my understanding this art piece is a wedding gift to a young couple or a gift for a person that was of high class. These are things that I take from this piece using formal analysis.

Unit 1 Summary

In class, one of the first things we learned was pedagogy and the banking model. Paolo Fiere was an advocate of pedagogy and created the Bank Model of Education. Pedagogy is the practice of teaching in a theoretical way instead of a practical way. It also focuses on the effects that it can have on students. Out of this, Friere created the Banking Model of Education that critiques the traditional way most teacher. Just like pedagogy, the banking model also pays attention at how the traditional way can effect students. In this case, it effects students negatively. The traditional way treats students as if they are something robotic, just filling them with information without any context. Teaching should mold kids into being critical thinkers and be divergent thinkers. We shouldn‘t just process things the way they are told to us. We should be taught to question everything. I personally was really intrigued with this topic. I loved reading and learning about. Teaching is something I take very seriously because it is something I am planning to major in. I believe that teachers have a duty and this huge responsibility in their hands because they are the ones that are teaching the future. It isn’t a job to be taken lightly and creating robots out of students is such a waste because teachers have the ability to create students who are independent and critical thinkers. Enforcing habits like questioning everything, in class discussions, and including them in lessons can shape them into these amazing adults who succeed in the adult world. It was very admirable learning about pedagogy and the Banking Model because it shows that I am not the only one who thinks that there is something seriously wrong in the education system, and the students are not the one to blame. 

Formal Analysis is a visual description of art. In class we had an in-depth class discussion about formally analyzing a piece of art. We said that analyzing art can provoke us to ask question and when we analyze artwork we usually look for the meaning of the piece, we evaluate it, and look at the central focus, Afterwards, we looked at a video of how to correctly analyze art, When looking at something like a painting, we describe it, look at the formal properties, at the subject matter and the historical context. Formal properties include, scale, medium, composition, illusion of depth, chiaroscuro, foreshortening, line color and material. Something that I really took away from learning about formal analysis was when we were shown the video of Goya 1808 being formally analyzed. I think this video was memorable because I was impressed with how much content was taken out of a single painting. I have always loved art and have always loved admiring it. However, for me admiring art would just be a five minute look at the work, reading the description and moving on to the next artwork. Watching that video made me realize that is an in-depth way of looking at art and by doing so, you can benefit so much more. The two voices that were speaking, would point out things that I would have never even noticed or even thought of when looking at the painting. It was insightful because it taught me how to appreciate art in a profound way.

Learning about the art in the ancient world was not my favorite but it was still interesting. The only reason why it wasn’t my favorite was because my love has always been in paintingsparticularly in the renaissance period and seeing so much stonework was definitely new for me. Nonetheless, I still found it interesting because history has always been one of my favorite subjects and this topic definitely felt like a history lesson because it showed how advanced people were even in ancient times. Something else that I did on my own was compared and contrasted the art in the ancient world and the art that I love so much. Ancient world art was very into making the presence of the one who is charge known. We see these messages come out in artworks like “Stele of Naramsi” and “The Palette of Narmar” where the figure who is most significant is larger than the rest in the art. The differences can also be seen in what they wear on their heads and their posture. Another thing that I learned was that artwork of the ancient world was in tune with naturalism. Naturalism being the depiction of realistic things in their natural setting, which I thought to be very beautiful. The artworks that showed that were “Panel with Striding Lion,” “Dying Lioness,” “Deer Hunt, Catal Huyuk,” and “Lamassu.” “Lamassuwas definitely a terrifying figure for me, but knowing that people worshipped a figure like this was very intriguing. Something else that struck me where the buildings and homes that these people created. Artwork like “Pyramid of Khafre,” “Pyramid of khufu,” “Temple of Amun-re,” “Ziggurat of Ur,”and “Ishtar gatejust shows that these people had everything that they needed. Their knowledge exceeded what people expected it to be during the paleolithic and neolithic age. The two pieces of art that are most intriguing to me were the “Ziggurat of Ur” and the “Ishtar Gate.” “The Ziggurat of Ur” stuck out because it was a place where jobs, religious rituals, and administrative buisness were held. Seeing a building like that built and seeing the use of it, reminds me once again just how advanced they were.Ishtar Gate, for me, was such an architectural beauty that blew me away because I never would have imagined a house to look so decorative and colorful at an ancient time like that. To also find out that a figure like the Lamasu and lions would be put outside houses like that for protection was also really cool. 

Unit One Art Summary

In unit one, we dived deep into the concept of formal analysis of pieces of work and critical pedagogies. This was a great way to start an art history course because formal analysis provides the necessary tools to correctly examine a piece of artwork. The most important concepts I have learned during this unit is the practicality of formal analysis and how helpful it us to distinguish minute details in any piece of work, regardless of the genre. This taught me that there is a unifying theme behind formal analysis and it has a wide scope of practical uses when describing historical events, color, quality, social status, politics, etc. It’s an amazing tool to debunk all types of works into their minute details.

Another important theme we discussed in unit 1 was Paulo Freire’s, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” In this work, Freire discusses the banking model and how it is a common theme throughout education. Also, he discusses the relationship between student and teacher and student and society. Through his “Banking Model Proposal,” he criticizes the education system by stating that students are essentially sponges who soak in information into their minds through rote memorization and through other impractical ways. Freire discusses how knowledge is a gift that is granted upon students and that students should be taught efficient ways on how to analyze and digest information rather than memorizing random facts. Also, Freire explains how bad it is for students to depend on their teachers to spoon-feed them valuable information. This will end up hindering their adult-skills in the future. In overall, I enjoyed reading his paper because it relates to a lot of students throughout the world. Paulo Freire is an advocate for critical thinking and the art of analysis. This best relates to the concept of formal analysis that we also discussed in unit 1. Formal analysis is used to analyze and comprehend small and big details that are found in pieces of work. There is correlation between Freire’s banking model and formal analysis in that he supports critical thinking and comprehension through analysis which is what formal analysis is meant to do.

Now that I mentioned formal analysis, I will talk about its practicality/versatility. Formal analysis is a step-by-step assessment/procedure that art historians (or almost anyone, this can be translated into the scientific method for scientists actually) use to understand the significance behind a piece of work. It is essentially putting yourself in the shoes/mind of the artist to have a better understanding of why certain things were used and not used. These can be the physical dimensions of the artwork, the type of canvas used, the quality of the paint, the colors used, the historical significance/context, the social political scheme, the types of lines, etc. There’s a plethora of analyses one can make when analyzing a piece of work. For example, when we were analyzing the formal properties of, Venus of Urbino, we discussed the overall theme of the painting, such as infidelity. We also discussed the motive of the painting. I believe we said it was a gift for a newly-wed couple. Then we discussed the basic formal properties such as colors used, size of the canvas, type of brush used, etc. In overall, I learned to efficiently analyze a piece of work. If I was not introduced to formal analysis, I would have had just said random strings of information without understanding the overall theme of the work, just like Freire was discussing.


Unit 1 Summary

We began divulging into this unit with our second blog post where we were each able to see and discuss how art has different meanings to each individual. At this point we learned that, essentially, there is no singular definition for the word art and what we consider art. I enjoyed that experiencing this in the beginning of the unit because I never knew if what I thought of as art could actually be considered a form of art. I grew up with an artist for a brother, so I always assumed that in reality the only works of art that existed were paintings, sculptures, etc.; and now I am aware that it can be the opposite in most cases. After learning formal analysis and how to use it, I have found myself appreciating things that I consider art even more. For example, when looking at the plating of many foods that you online and in-person, you can use the formal analysis technique in many ways. When looking at dishes I find myself paying more attention to the colors used, especially for garnishing and whether they are meant to enhance or diminish the food. Or I have found myself observing the size of food and plates, and how the two work with each other. Some use a larger plate for small portions to showcase the real-life size, while others use plates to fit the food for scale and to display actual or an enhanced size.

Furthermore, I have also began to find a new appreciate to actual paintings and sculptures when I see them. There are different paintings around my house and I have found myself observing them with more detail. For example, I’m always intrigued by the shapes and kind of lines that are used. The painting in my house of a field of flowers, I can now see that it is done with light lines and strokes with minimal shading to show that they are blowing in the wind.

In this unit we also learned about the banking model by Paulo Friere. The banking model suggests that teachers and educators are there to fill “empty vessels” i.e. students with knowledge, in which the students then just regurgitate the knowledge and there is no critical thinking component. He also mentions that this is the traditional education system which I can agree with. Even to this day I have a professor here and there that just wants us to regurgitate the information/knowledge that they shared and does not wish to go further with the material and make the students use the information. While reading many of the blog posts during this unit, I found that many of my classmates experienced the same thing, even with higher education.

Lastly, we began exploring the ancient world. This was one of my favorite topics thus far because I have always had an interest in ancient worlds. It was interesting to learn more about their art works in depth and the reason that some of them were made. For example, we learned that in Ancient Mesopotamia there are many small figurines and sculptures that are all made to look very similar; long hair, wide eyes, and hands always cupped together. These figurines were made small so that they could be kept with a person at all times and to “replace” times where they are unable to pray to the gods. The figurines were meant to show the gods that the person did care and that they were still worshipping them even when they were working or sleeping. The people were scared to be in a situation where they are not seen praying to the gods or giving thanks to the gods because they saw them as the power to make things really good or very bad.