VSAR 120
Introduction to Visual Art

Tony Allard, Instructor

Email: antalla@cox.net
Monday - Wednesday
8 AM - 1 PM
University Hall, Room
Web site: http://www.csusm.edu/fossilmedia/School/school.html
Office Hours: Monday 1 - 2
PM, University Hall, Room 257

Week to Week Schedule

Introduction to Visual Art

The primary goal of this course is to expand your awareness and appreciation of art and to examine how art functions within past and present cultures. We will be looking at art from a number of different perspectives, such as: the role of representation and "realism" in art; how political forces insinuate themselves into historical and contemporary art practices; the influence of the "objective sciences" on the arts; and specifically, the merging of art, mass media and popular culture.


In pursuit of the primary goal of this course, I encourage you to keep an open mind to the material that I will be presenting--keeping in mind that you may encounter some art that may not be appealing and, in fact, may be unsettling and not the kind of art you are familiar with.  I think, however, that to develop a genuine appreciation for art, you must be willing to experience the widest possible range of artistic expressions from around the world. To expand your appreciation of art beyond what you are currently familiar with, you must be willing to question and challenge established definitions of what art is and to develop your own sensibilities and critical thinking.


This course will follow an approximate historical chronology from so called prehistoric art to the most current art forms being made for and on the World Wide Web. I say an approximate chronology, meaning that a history of art will not be developed in a strict, linear sequence, but rather it will advance through examinations of key ideas as they relate to various time periods and locals Western Art. The primary goal of the class is to increase your visual literacy and to gain a greater appreciation of art.



Art and Mass Media, Robert Pelfrey. Copies are now available in the campus bookstore. If they do not have copies then immediately put one on reserve.


Course Requirements

The work you do for this class will consist of the following:

--taking careful notes during each class

--developing a list art terms with definitions

--3 terms/definitions and short essay question tests

--participation in class discussion on reading material

--each student will present a cultural artifact

--writing two critiques of works of art (two page, double spaced papers)

--Conceptual Aerobics



Using the A through F scale, the grade of C is average. To receive an average grade, you must attend every class, complete all the assignments and participate in class discussions. To receive an above average grade you must fulfill all the above mentioned requirements for a C, then you must do above average work to receive a B. To receive an A you must do exceptional work and participate in class at the highest level.

Your final grade will be determined by the following:

--20% participation, cultural artifact presentation and Conceptual Aerobics

--30% written critiques of art

--50% three terms/definitions and short essay tests



ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY. Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class. Part of your overall course grade will be determined by your cooperation, time and attention given to reading assignments, If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to find out what material was covered during the absence. I strongly suggest you exchange phone numbers/email with someone in the class to take full responsibility for any absences.


I have a very clear attendance policy: You are allowed two absences which will not adversely affect your grade. Absences are neither excused nor unexcused, which means I do not need to know why you were absent ( please do not call me to tell me you won't be in class). After these 2 absences, each absence will lower your overall grade by one full letter grade. In other words, if you are doing C work in the class, and you miss 4 classes, you will fail. If you are doing A work, and you miss 3 classes, you will receive a B.


Writing Assignments:

You will be required to write two critical papers on two cultural artifact of your choice. The first critique of an artifact must be local and you will need to visit the site where it exists. In this paper you will demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary terms presented in the course by using them in your critique of the artifact. The first writing assignment will require research and a thorough visual examination of the artifact (I have included a list of several museums, galleries and arts organization in town that you can visit in order to complete this assignment). The second critique must be of a cultural artifact you find on the WWW. The purpose of this critique is to critically examine a work of art that has been made specifically for the web. I will give more details on the writing assignments and links to online works of art on the day that I assign them.

NOTE: For your second Art review you may check these web sites out. These listings are all throughout my Theories: Arts in Cyberspace class.
Numerous Web Sites to view Art made for and presented on the WWW

NOTE: For your second Art review I have also posted two examples of previous students' reviews. Just click on examples

Outline of Studio activities: Conceptual Aerobics

Note: these studio activities will be presented chronologically in conjunction with lecture topics and are intended to expand on the material covered in lecture. No projects will be assigned; these activities are participatory in nature and therefore, you will be graded on the quality of your participation. These exercises will include both analogue and digital media.

1. Socialized vision, visual habits, visual literacy, using the oculus

--opening the Senses: considering the senses before and after they are socialized

--drawing and perception exercises,

--Blind contour drawing, drawing with both hands

--Socialized vision. I will conduct a variety of Conceptual Aerobics exercises to increase your awareness of visual habits that are the foundation for how our vision gets socialized.

--visual literacy, representation, culturally bound visual habits examined

Introduction of the oculus, a device used by artists to compose pictures

2. Drawing, Principles of Design, Color Theory

--Blind contour drawing, drawing with both hands

--Principles of Design explored with the oculus

--Color theory, creating a three dimensional color wheel

--Ephemeral paintings

3. We explore a variety of analogue and digital methods for creating perspective and the illusion of three-dimensional space on a two dimensional surface. The main focus will be on Linear Perspective from the Renaissance and multi-dimensional perspectival methods from the 20th Century.

--Perspective anomalies.

4. A visual/sculptural/digital/per formative retelling of Plato's Allegory of the Cave.

5. Ephemeral art and process art, immaterial art, conceptual art, video art, computer art, net art, TAZ


Week by Week Schedule

The key concepts and related material for this course will be presented through lectures, readings, a variety of audio and visual sources, computer-based/on-line sources, textbooks, periodicals, performances, and others. Each week will proceed as follows:

--lectures and visual & audio presentations, discussions on readings
--Conceptual Aerobics
--reading assignments given for Wednesday

--lectures and visual & audio presentations, discussions on readings
--quizzes and exams given, Conceptual Aerobics and cultural artifact presentations.
--reading assignments given for
Monday of the next week.

Week by Week schedule

1st Exam
Monday, June 18 th
2nd Exam
Wednesday, June 2 7th
3rd Exam
Monday July 2 (Last Class)
3rd Exam SA Questions

Cultural Artifact Presentation Schedule

For your second Art review you may check these web sites out. These listings are all throughout my Theories: Arts in Cyberspace class.

Numerous Web Sites to view Art made for and presented on the WWW

NOTE: For your second Art review I have also posted two examples of previous students' reviews. Just click on examples