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ART MUSEUM CRITIQUE

Use the following format for your museum critique; answers must be typed below the
questions and all questions must appear in full on your final copy. You can use this
document as your template. Pay careful attention to the required number of words for those
questions that have them. Failure to follow the instructions here and on your syllabus will
result in a substantially low grade. Minimal answers poorly written are a D grade or less.
Elaboration of points, excellent arguments, and good writing garner higher grades.
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Name Kasey Foye Class period/section Humanities 1010 M/W 1:00-2:20
1) Which museum did you visit? (check one) ___ Univ. of Utah X BYU
2) Describe at least one of the permanent collection exhibits on a theme, period,
geographic region, or topic) within the museum. {150 words} One of the permanent
collection exhibits is the "Shaping of America" exhibit. It displayed America
over the centuries, having paintings and sculptures of Native Americans for
the most part, and stories residing within their lives. The most memorable one
I saw was a painting that showed Pocahontas attempting to save John Smith,
whilst Chief Powhatan was telling his subordinates to kill him. They were
holding him down, while one native was raising an axe-like object above his
head to kill him. The funniest part about this painting in specific, is that the
artist portrayed Chief Powhatan incorrectly. The clothes that he painted on
Chief Powhatan are from a different time period of Anglo-Americans, and that
goes to show that there are assumptions (incorrect ones, at that,) about Native
Americans, and have been since we came to America.
3) Give a brief, one paragraph description of a special, temporary exhibit (for
help, ask museum staff what these are; they are usually in one of the first rooms).
{100 words} The temporary exhibit that was available for viewing was an exhibit
called “
4) What do you think the museum administration and/or exhibit curators want
you to learn or gain from the exhibits you viewed? {100 word minimum} At the BYU
Art Museum, there is one portion of one of the exhibits that is entirely
dedicated to the birth and life of God and Jesus. There were around 20
paintings and complete descriptions of each of them, as well as a couple
sculptures with descriptions as well. As it is very well known, BYU is a very
religious university, and this portion of the museum is obviously attempting to
teach something about their savior and way of life (I.e., religion.) I don’t know
if it was the administrators or the exhibit curators that were the choosers of
the paintings that are displayed, but I would assume it would have been the
president of the University itself.
5) What kind of information is provided about the works? Where might you look
for further information if you were interested? (Name three possibilities) One place

to look for more information of certain art pieces, would be the plaque next to
the paintings. Another would be to look up the art piece online, and see what
you could find in that aspect. The final place to look for information would be
to ask the exhibit curators for whatever knowledge they have on the subject.
6) Choose several works that particularly appealed to you. Explain why you
were drawn to these works. Comment on the subject, style, medium, time period,
etc. Who were the artists? What message do you think the artists were trying to
convey in the works you chose to discuss? This question must be answered in its
entirety. {This should be at least 500 words} The first work that caught my eye
was in the “Branding the American West” exhibit, and was titled “The Canyon”
- by Emil James Bisttram. This was the first piece of art that really stood out to
me in the entire exhibit, and I have no utterance of why that is. Walking
through, I walked past probably 15+ paintings and none of them caught my
eye, and then out of nowhere: this painting just called me to it. The style of it
almost reminds me of Picasso, with the colors being quite dark AND light at
the same time, as well as having random shapes of “canyons” taking up most
of the canvas. I believe the artist was trying to convey a certain canyon onto
the canvas - which canyon in particular I can not say. My second favorite work
that appealed to me, was one depicting the execution of John Smith by Chief
Powhatan’s men. Pocahontas was leaning over John Smith, protecting him
from Powhatan’s men, and there were 2 men attempting to execute him. One
man holding him down, and the other holding an axe-like object above his
head about to come down on him with it. This painting was quite large - being
about 10 feet in height I’d guess - and was depicted very well. The plaque of
information next to the painting said that the artist had accidentally painted
Powhatan’s attire incorrectly, giving him clothes that were later in the future.
This mess up goes to show the political incorrectness of peoples that aren’t of
the Native American tribes, in assuming that their attire has been the same all
along. This painting was created in 1870, and was created to show the ending
of the legendary tale of Pocahontas. The style of this painting is incredible,
and is very, VERY realistic. The brush strokes can be seen on certain parts of
the painting, but all in all, the painting looks real. It looks like it was taken by a
camera almost. The final art piece that I seemed drawn to was “Fallen
Monarchs,” created by William Bliss Baker. This painting was in an exhibit
called “Shaping America,” and the entire exhibit was a masterpiece; although
this canvas in particular was my favorite. The colors and contrast in the
picture were absolutely incredible, and it looked like I could have been there. It
was a painting of a forest that not a single human had intruded upon. The
forest itself was serene and beautiful, and it was something unlike anything
I’ve ever seen. The reflections in the painting were what interested me the
most, because they seemed better than real life reflections. There was water
upon the ground in the forest, and you could see EVERYTHING in it.
7) How did the artworks you looked at relate to material we have discussed in
class? (They do relate in many ways, you just need to look for those relationships).
{Minimum of 150 words} There were a few artworks in the museum that depicted
depression - the great depression for that matter. There was one artwork in
particular, called “Forgotten Man,” which showed a man on the curb of the

street during the great depression. He looked incredulously depressed, and
you could see many pairs of feet just walking passed him without giving him
any help or talking to him at the very least. It’s hard to tell whether he’s
recently become homeless, or if he’s just depressed. This painting can be tied
into the “pursuit of happiness” like we talked about a few weeks ago. Seeing
this man on the side of the street (whether it be a painting or not,) makes me
feel bad for him. If I could have helped this man, I would have, for the sake of
world happiness.
8) What was your personal reaction to this experience? Would you enjoy
attending this type of event again? Why or why not? {Minimum 100 words} My
reaction to this experience was well received. I liked it quite a bit, and would
definitely attend this type of event again. The second floor of the museum was
being renovated, and because of such, I believe it could have been much
better - theoretically. But alas, Provo is quite far away, so I would not be
attending this museum in particular anytime soon. The University of Utah’s Art
Museum on the other hand, is supposedly much bigger, and I would love to
see it. I love art, and seeing this much of it in such a close vicinity was
something new to me. I will definitely attend another art museum sometime
soon rather than later.

As always remember that I want to see reflective thinking on your part. Show me you are
aware of your limitations, your biases, etc. Show me that you are thinking about your own
responses and why you respond the way you do.