Students analyze La Dent de Jaman (The Artist’s House), a painting by Gustave Courbet, and consider how they can change the two-dimensional image into a three-dimensional sculpture. The class collaborates on a three-dimensional landscape based on Courbet’s painting.
- Students learn how to interpret a two-dimensional artwork into a three-dimensional artwork.
- Students explore space and proportion in an artwork.
- Visual Art: elements of art (space, form), principles of design (emphasis, balance), art processes (two-dimensional and three-dimensional)
Resource: La Dent de Jaman (The Artist’s House) by Gustave Courbet
Discuss: Have a class discussion about La Dent de Jaman. Focus on how Courbet uses space in the painting. How does he translate three-dimensional objects (the house, mountains, and trees) to a two-dimensional plane?
Prepare: Ask students to bring in a variety of sculptural materials from home with which they could build; for example, old boxes, paper towel rolls, blocks, cans, paper, cardboard, etc. Have them make a detailed list of what is shown in the painting (house, shutters, mountains, snow, etc.). Continue by making a list of what is not depicted but realistically might have been in the scene (e.g., the other side of the house, the artist painting the scene). Brainstorm ways in which the painting could become a sculpture. How could the house be constructed? What materials would make realistic mountains? How big would the sculpture need to be to include everything from the two lists? What about scale? How can students use the materials they have to make the sculpture?
Create: Divide the class into three groups. Using the lists and brainstorming notes, each group will plan a three-dimensional interpretation of the painting. The students should make drawings and write notes about what they will include and how they will construct their landscape. Using the materials they’ve gathered and their drawings and notes, each group should then create a collaborative three-dimensional “Artist’s House.”
Present: Have each group present its landscape to the class by discussing the outcome. For example: Does the finished artwork look the way the group thought it would? What’s different? What’s the same? Each presentation should include a discussion of the construction process. For example: What could have been done differently? more efficiently? Are the parts proportional?
Expand: Research the area where Courbet’s house was built. What type of architecture is most common to this region? Why do you think that is?
Author: Adapted from a lesson by Gwen Kelly