Reading Images and Deconstructing Icons in American Culture

Reading Images and Deconstructing Icons in American Culture

Find a painting or photograph that you think is iconic. Write an essay examining the significance of the photograph/painting and why or how the photograph/painting has been elevated to an iconic status. It will also require you to define the word icon. What does it mean for a photograph/painting to be iconic? It is your job to come up with an argument based on your reading of the photograph/painting as well as your definition of the word icon. This will require you to write about the photograph or painting as well as the artist who created it. Use Stein and Davenport as models. Both essays do the same thing I am asking you to do. Notice how they examine both the artist and the photograph/painting. This will require a careful reading of the photograph/painting, research, and critical thinking/analysis. As part of the essay, you should research the artist or photograph/painting you are evaluating. What do others say about this artist or his or her photograph/painting? Please make sure your research is scholarly—library books and EBSCOhost ONLY. Critically read the photograph/painting, and like Davenport, incorporate your critical reading into your essay. What is in the foreground and background? What can you infer about the image based on that which surrounds it? Does the photograph/painting symbolize anything? Be sure to have the photograph/painting in front of you as you write. Finally, argue why this photograph/painting should be viewed as iconic by exploring what it represents, communicates, and/or symbolizes. Here is where you will get to use your critical thinking and analytical skills. How you organize the essay is up to you as long as you combine these elements. Support: You must include one EBSCOhost article or one library book into your paper. The EBSCOhost or library book must be directly related to the photograph/painting you are analyzing or the artist who created it. You must also use Davenport and Stein as support. This does not mean you that you need to agree with them or discuss the photograph/paintings they discuss. You should apply what they say about iconic photographs/paintings to what you have to say. You might, in fact, disagree with an author. This is fine. You can still use him or her as support by arguing with what he/she asserts. Choosing a photograph or painting: For some of you, this may be the hardest part. The photograph/painting you choose must be by an artist you can research on EBSCOhost. If you find a photograph, make sure you can identify the artist. Then go to EBSCOhost to see if you can find research about this artist (or the photograph/painting itself, but it is more likely that you will find material on the artist). If the article discusses the artist but not the actual photograph/painting you are using, it might be fine. Read the article and see if there is information you can use to support your analysis of why this photograph/painting is iconic. If the article discusses the importance of the contributions the artist has made to American culture or something similar, then you can use this source. You can do a Basic Search, Advanced Search, or Visual Search on EBSCOhost. The Visual Search may prove very useful with this assignment. When you are searching for material on EBSCOhost, choose “full text” on your search. If you know an artist you want to write about, but are not sure what photograph/painting you want to use, you can conduct a Google Image search to find paintings or photographs this artist has created. Only use Google or any other search engine to find an image; do not use these search engines to conduct your research. Choose only one photograph/painting. I only want you to focus on one photograph/painting since I want you discuss/analyze the artist and the photograph/painting in detail. You only have five pages to do this. If you are analyzing several photograph/paintings, you cannot do service to each photograph/painting in five pages. Use Stein and Davenport as models. These writers analyze the artist and just one painting or photograph he or she created. If you choose a religious painting, be sure your discussion of the painting and/or artist remains objective and academic. I have complied a list of artists some have argued are iconic and who have material written about them on EBSCOhost. Feel free to pick from this list or choose your own. Painters: Raphael Sanzio René Magritte Andy Warhol Jean-Michel Basquiat Pablo Picasso Vincent van Gogh Salvador Dali Diego Rivera Jackson Pollock Photographers: Diane Arbus James Nachtwey Julia Margaret Cameron Annie Liebowitz Jeff Wall Matthew B. Brady Alfred Stieglitz