What is Art?

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Area: Art
Grade Level: High School & Beyond, Middle School, Primary/Elementary School
Topics: Aesthetics, art, Beauty
Estimated Time Necessary: 45 minutes to an hour

Lesson Plan

Thinking about art and aesthetics
This is an activity to get students thinking about what makes something art.

Have each student draw two pictures. One drawing must be a drawing they would call art, and the other one they would not call art.

Ask the students who want to do so to share their drawings.

Some questions you can consider include:

  • What makes one art and the other not?
  • Does the intention of the artist matter?
  • Is the effort what matters?
  • What about what other people think — does that matter?

Pose to the students the “Case of the Purple Picture.”
One day your teacher says that she wants to draw a picture of you. You are excited. She takes a sheet of paper and covers the whole thing in purple and then she tacks it up on the board. Under it she writes, “This is a picture of _____.”

Some questions you can consider include:

  • Would you be mad? Why or why not?
  • Would it be a good picture of you?
  • What is a picture?
  • How do we know what a good picture is?
  • How do we know what the person who drew the picture meant?
This lesson plan was created for PLATO by: Jana Mohr Lone.

This work is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

If you would like to change or adapt any of PLATO's work for public use, please feel free to contact us for permission at info@plato-philosophy.org.