Lesson Plan Paintings


Le Métafisyx, 1950, Oil on canvas, 116 x 89.5 cm, Jean Dubuffet.












Monomaniac of Military Command, 1819-22, Oil on canvas, 81 x 65 cm, Théodore Géricault.

Both images are from common license and copyright free.

Modern Art: Outsider Art & Jean Dubuffet

Adapted and additions made to an existing lesson plan for the English Literature class on Othello, and representations of race.

Objectives: Students will be introduced to the concept of Outsider Art, the work and writings of Jean Dubuffet, and the story of modern art history. They will gain an understanding of the Modern cultural context and mid 20th century France.

Guiding Questions: What influence did 'outsider' art, or Art Brut, have for artists and Modern Art? Where is Art Brut found today?

Materials: Overhead projector, or CD and computer with overhead LCD, handouts, pens, pencils, notebooks.

Room arrangement: As is, group activity, and presentations.

Lesson Hook: Two images on overhead, or CD overhead (left).

Ask students to read the paintings as they would text. Summarize student's answers and comments, repeat their comments and continue onto the next student, as you guide the class through questions. The material, as well, may tell students something; the shapes, textures, and gesture may too. Guide students to think and speak about;

  • Which image is from the imagination, or perception, of the artist?
  • What do you see? Describe the pose, clothes, props, lighting, features, etc.
  • Do you know who the person is?
  • What does the painting tell you about?
  • What does the painting make you feel? How has that happened? What did the artist do to achieve this?
  • How did the artist tell you? (color, gesture, texture, title, material, scale)
  • Tell students the dates of each painting. What does the art work by Jean Dubuffet suggest about the story of Modern art in Europe, particularly France at this time?

Day 1:
Outsider Art was part of thinking, speaking, and making what is now called modern art. At the time it greatly influenced artists such as, Jean Dubuffet. He gave it his own term, Art Brut, and gave some art works a particular definition: art works done without contact, knowledge, or any reference of the culture [perhaps history] of art, and by people in isolation equal to patients in hospitals for the insane. Then and now there are opinions about the art, but it points out where , how, when, and what should fit in the official story of art history and the history of modern art.

Think, pair, share -- Ask students to divide into 3-4 groups. Give each group 1 reading from 3-4 provided below,

  1. Quotes by Jean Dubuffet, 1956;
  2. Excerpt from the MA Thesis of Samantha Krukowski, contemporary artist and art historian, 1992;
  3. Excerpt from an art review by Roberta Smith in the New York Times, 2005.
  4. Quotes by Richard Greaves, Anarchitect, Quebec, Canada, 2006.

In groups, students will read the text, summarize, write down their comments, thoughts, and considerations (what they discussed), and present them too the class. They must be ready to discuss issues and perspectives in the class discussion, guided by the following questions, and for further discussion:

  • Who were Outsiders?
  • Who were Modern Artists?
  • How were Outsiders and Modern Artists regarded in Dubuffet's time, 40s - 60s, and in earlier times?
  • What was the culture of art, and how were artists ranked?
  • What was the hierarchy, if any, in the culture of art in Paris, France?
  • [mention to students to consider what was the role of women? What was expected of a daughter? What was expected of a wife?]
  • What were the relationships between Outsiders and Modern artists? How were they considered?
  • What were the rules, if any, for a Modern artist at the time?
  • What were the rules of Museums and Galleries?

Show slides of ART BRUT (Powerpoint presentation): Art Brut and Modern Art examples for visual support.

Student Culminating Activity: Final questions for 3-5 paragraphs of written work,

  • Are society’s standards of value the same for all artists?
  • Consider the contributions of diverse minority groups.
  • Were some of these groups considered to be valuable or useful?
  • Dubuffet says in one quote that man does not interest him in the least, yet his paintings are of people, men and women. This appears to be a contradiction. What do you make of this?
  • Is Jean Dubuffet's estimation of his self-worth and the art he does, equal to the assessment of the culture of art?
  • Explain how the standards of value presented in Modern art work relate to our society today? Has the human condition changed? If so, in what way(s)?

Students will discuss and write down their thoughts on the following question:

  • What is the difference between being considered useful vs. being valuable to society?
  • The teacher will check for understanding of the question and prompt them as needed to help them understand what is being asked of them.
  • At the teacher’s discretion he or she may choose to continue to intrigue the students with the following question: Do you think your own self worth is more important than society’s evaluation of your value? Why?

© 2007, L.Moriarity, For education purposes only.