Art Exhibition Class

Exhibition Planning &
Gallery Management




Week 2 Lecture: Curatorial Practice


Assignment #2

Begin developing your archive of images and related information.

Develop an archive of images and make sure to include the authors names, titles of works, dates of completion, medium and size of the works as well as any important information about the pieces. 


You should have a minimum of 20 images.


Ask yourself the following questions as you make your selections for your archive and see if you can find any important information about the works you are selecting as you research.


Dialectics of archival research:


  1. Reading for / Reading against the received or accepted meaning: Do you agree with or disagree with other people’s interpretations of these artworks, and if so, why or why not? What evidence do you have that supports your view over the views of others?


  1. Researching what has been written / Searching for what has been lost, overlooked, or missed: Do you see something in these artworks that hasn’t been commented on before or which has been routinely overlooked? What has been missed, and why might it not have been mentioned in the past or even today?


  1. Selecting works / Editing works based on context, new information, and new orientations: Are there other works that should be considered for inclusion in relation to your exhibition topic or were there any works that were previously associated with your exhibition theme that have been over-valued for one reason or another, and if so, why? 


  1. Refining selections / Reframing selections based on unexamined assumptions: What were the ideas, standards, or criteria by which something was previously included in exhibitions with similar topics and do those ideas, standards, or criteria need to be re-evaluated today? If so, are new criteria needed to form a new basis of judgment for what is to be included under your exhibition topic and what would those criteria be?


Your aim: To understand the relationship between 1) the original document or work, 2) the reception of the work in critical and historical terms and 3) the evolving idea of the work within the context of your exhibition project.


Homework: You should have selected a minimum of 20 images and have written a short blurb of 3-5 sentences about each piece telling us what makes each work interesting in terms of how the work has been read, researched, selected, and framed in a given cultural context. Include this blurb with each image, along with the author's name, title of the work, year of completion, medium and dimensions of the work.


20 Points total:

20 Points for correctly labeled images + a short 3-5 sentence blurb information about the work.












Listen to the in-class lecture and participate in the class discussion.

Students have to turn in their art review or show proposal each week.

You should be ready to present your finished review or show proposal in class every week.



[  ] Write a review of an iconographic artwork or artworks in town (see below for details).


[  ] Make a show proposal poster for your exhibition about iconic works of art. i.e., a "greatest hits" show in one genre, theme or artistic discipline.  Think in terms of “Favorite well known artists” or “Favorite well known pieces”.



Goal: Try to write about a work or works of art by analyzing different levels of iconographic meaning and how they produce the value attributed to iconicity in any given culture.

Preparing to Write:

Begin by taking notes about a work or works of art using the three fundamental levels of perception and interpretation associated with iconology.

Pre-iconographic read (pre-text):

This first level of iconographic interpretation is about what you see without linking it to any deeper context, and focuses on the phenomenological impact of the image on perception, thought and feeling.

Iconographic text:

This second level of iconographic interpretation is about what artistic, literary, religious, cultural, and socio-political influences inform the image, i.e., how a work or works are situated in the greater cultural context.

Iconographic context:

This third level of iconographic interpretation is about how contemporary events outside of the artwork or artworks can inform how we think about what was included in the image as well as how iconographic meanings can change over time.

Remember: All three levels are a good place to explore what is also irreducible to an iconographic interpretation as well. Always remember to mention what seems uninterpretable too, but make sure to thoroughly research the work before deciding you don’t know what it means!


Writing Tips:  

As you get ready to write an iconographic review of an artwork or artworks remember to Look, Link and Hyperlink your observations in order to bring the three levels of iconographic intepretation together in order to discern how an artwork achieves an “iconic” status.

When you encounter an artwork:

  • Look at the object (sensible perception)
  • Link it to the outside work (contextual implications)
  • Hyperlink to other similar types and styles of art in order to think about comparing the work with other works from other cultures and times. Make sure to add particular points of specific interest about how an object becomes iconic in a given time and place.
  • Address any broken links in the chain of meaning production that might prove problematic for an iconographic reading of the work to feel complete.


Hint: Try to approach iconology as a chance to discover how a work of art became meaningful through a network of connected levels of signification and cross-cultural comparisons.

Art Review: 3-5 paragraphs, 1.5 type, 3-5 pictures when possible.




















Optional Reading (ART 560)

[  ] A Short Guide to Writing About Art. By Sylvan Barnet. Iconography and Iconology (pgs. 166-171)

[  ] The Methodologies of Art: An Introduction. By Laurie Schneider Adams. Chapter 3: Iconography




Online Resources

Iconographic Analysis

Iconography wiki

Writing about art: Iconographic analysis

Iconology wiki



Video Resources (Combined viewing time 38:29)

The Meaning of Iconography | Art Terms | Little Art Talks (2:55mins)

Critical Analysis 6 Iconological Analysis (10:17)

Iconography (10:15mins)

Interpreting Art & Iconography (15:42mins)



Famous Iconography Art Critics

Books By Erin Panofsky

The Life and Art of Albrect Durer (Two Volumes)Perspective as Symbolic Form, Meaning in the Visual Arts, Studies in Iconology: Humanistic Themes in the Art of the Reniassance, Idea: A Concept in Art Theory, Three Essays on Style, Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism: An Inquiry into Analogy, Arts, Philosophy and Religion in the Middle Ages, Pandora's Box: The Changing Aspects of a Mythical Symbol, Tomb sculpture: Four lectures on its changing aspects from Egypt to Bernini, Reinassance and Reniassances in Western ArtEarly Netherlandish Painting: Two Volume Set (It's Origin and Character), Saturn and Melancholia, Problems in Titan, Mostly Iconographic, Abbot Suger on the Abby Church of Saint Denis and Its' Art Treasures, Panofsky and the Foundations of Art History, Galileo as a Critic of the Arts, Codex Huygens and Leonardo Da Vinci's Art Theory.


Iconology as Method 

This method of writing art reviews and curating shows often describes a "Greatest Hits Show" of canonized pieces or seminal figures in art.

Example of a Iconographic Art review:



CLASS DISCUSSION - What makes a work of Art or an Artist Iconic?


Icons of Art: The Twentieth Century (Book)


Imaging America: Icons of the 20th Century (Book)


10 Artists who changed the course of 20th century art

Louise Bourgeois

Marcel Duchamp

Frida Kahlo

Anish Kapoor

Jeff Koons

Georgia O'Keeffe

Pablo Picasso

Jackson Pollock

Cindy Sherman

Andy Warhol


Most iconic works of All Time

1. The Mona Lisa, Leonardo Da Vinci

2. Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh

3. The Scream, Edward Munch

4. Guernica, Pablos Picasso

5. The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali

6. Three Musicians, Pablo Picasso

7. A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jett, George Seurat

8. Girl With A Pearl Ear Ring, Johannes Vermeer

9. Whistler's Mother, James McNeill Whistler

10. Portrait de L'Artist Sans Barbe, Vincent Van Gogh

11. The Night Watch, Rembrandt van Rijn

12. The Kiss, Gustav Klimt, The Kiss

13. Water Lilies, Claude Monet

14. The Flower Carrier, Diego Rivera

15. American Gothic, Grant Wood

16. Cafe Terrace at Night, Vincent Van Gogh

17. The Son of Man, Rene Magritte

18. No. 5, 1948, Jackson Pollock

19. Bal du Moulin de la Galette, Pierre-Auguste Renoires

20. Dogs Playing Poker, C.M. Coolidge


Most Iconic Work that Everyone under 20 Should Know 

1. American Gothic, Grant Wood

2. The Last Supper, Leonardo Da Vinci

3. Soup Cans, Andy Warhol

4. The Kiss, Gustav Klimt, The Kiss

5. Water Lilies, Claude Monet

6.  The Night Watch, Rembrandt van Rijn

7. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Pablo Picasso

8. Autumn Rhythm, Jackson Pollock

9. The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, Damien Hirst

10. Las Meninas, Diego Velazquez

11. A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jett, George Seurat

12. Nighthawks, Edward Hopper

13. The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo

14. The Kiss, Auguste Rodin

15. The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali

16. Ballon Dog, Jeff Koons

17. Girl With A Pearl Ear Ring, Johannes Vermeer

18. The Scream, Edward Munch

19. Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh

20. The Mona Lisa, Leonardo Da Vinci


20... Most Iconic Painting in Human History

1. Guernica, Pablos Picasso

2. The Scream, Edward Munch

3. The Mona Lisa, Leonardo Da Vinci

4.  The Last Supper, Leonardo Da Vinci

5. The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli

6. American Gothic, Grant Wood

7. Girl With A Pearl Ear Ring, Johannes Vermeer

8. Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh

9. The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali

10. The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo

11. Number 1, Jackson Pollock

12. Dogs Playing Poker, Cassius Marcellus Coolidge

13. Water Lilies, Claude Monet

14. The Arnolfini Wedding, Jan van Eyck

15. The Third of May, 1808, Francisco Goya

16. Scene at the Signing of the constitution of the United States, Howard Chandler Christy

17. Nighthawks, Edward Hopper

18. Jesus Christ, Warner Sallman

19. The Astronomer, Johannes Vermeer

20. The Death of Socrates



10 Most Iconic Works in the US

1. Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh

2. Great Wave Off of Kanazawa, Katsushika Hokusai

3. American Gothic, Grant Wood

4. Luncheon on the Boating Party, Pierre-Auguste Renoir

5. A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jett, George Seurat

6. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Pablo Picasso

7. The Treachery of Images, Rene Magritte

8. The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali

9. The Slave Ship, J.W.Turner

10. Nighthawks, Edward Hopper


50 of the Most Iconic Works of the Past 5 Years

1. The Artist is Present, Marina Abramovic, 2010

2. Sunflower Seeds, Ai Weiwei, 2010

3. H.O.P.E., Shepard Fairey, 2008

4. Women Are Heroes, JR, 2008

5. Restored version of Elias Garcia Martinez's "Ecco Homo" by Cecilia Gimenez, 2012

6. Untitled (Human History), Barbra Kruger in collaboration with the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education and ForYourArt, 2012

7. Protest Performance at MOCA Geffen Contemporary, Los Angeles, The Phantom Street Artist, Joey Krebs, Leo Limon, Todd Moyer and Others, 2011

8. For the Love of God, Damien Hirst, 2007

9. London Pictures, Gilbert&George, 2011

10. The Andy Monument, Rob Pruitt, 2011

11. "Any Ever, Ryan Trecartin, 2009-2010

12. Punk Prayer - Mother of God, Chase Putin Away! Pussy Roit, 2012

13. The Clock, Christina Marclay, 2010

14. Nest, Dan Colen & Dash Snow, 2007

15. Installation at Chateau de Versailles, Takashi Murakami, 2010

16. iPhone Drawing, David Hockney

17. Grass Mud Horse Style, Ai Weiwei, 2012

18. Urban Light, Chris Burden, 2012

19. 24 Hour Museum, Francesco Vezzoli, 2012

20. L.O.V.E., Maurizio Cattenlan, 2010


Iconic Single Works 


1,000,000 +

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci (1963), The Met 1,077,521.


The Scream, MOMA, 5,528 vistors a day

Iconicity by school


Iconicity by genre


Iconicity by collections / curator


Iconic exhibition


Iconicity by nation

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