High School Studio Lesson
NOT JUST A
Contemporary artist John Currin’s artwork has been described as a moralistic por- trait of contemporary society.
Currin is convinced that most
emotions we connect with religion,
such as guilt, sin,
have been changed
by modern life.
His response is
to paint various present-day ills in
portraits sometimes evocative of high-school yearbook photos.
Through portraiture, Käthe Kollwitz expressed the toll of human
suffering, the loss of her son, and the
misery of war. Her self-portraits depict
the sorrows and losses that made their
mark on her face through the years.
Both of these artists are effective
a lesson on self-portraiture.
This lesson is an
opportunity to express
personal meaning by telling
a story, promoting a cause,
or practicing expressive
style and emotion.
statement), or practicing expressive
style and emotion (Expressionism).
create a self-portrait that is not a
photographic replica. Instead, it is an
opportunity to express personal mean-
ing by telling a story (narrative art),
promoting a cause (social or political
After an exploration of artwork by
Currin and Kollwitz, begin with a list
of questions for students:
like to express in your self-portrait?
is significant to you? What emotion
or expression best exemplifies how
you feel about this event?
about social or political issues?