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20-A Richard Diebenkorn, Cityscape 1, 1963
Nellie Shamsutdinova


Theme: Landscape

Lesson Plan Title: Scenery and environment
Skills Covered: Reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.

General Goal(s): General Goal(s): The students will develop reading, speaking, listening and writing skills necessary for recognition and interpretation, analysis and evaluation of the work of art.

Specific Objectives:
develop students’ knowledge of abstract painting
evoke students’ interest in their surroundings / scenery around them
learn vocabulary units to be used in description of abstract paintings
expand students’ knowledge of the history of abstract art and personalities who contributed to the type of art
learn how to speak about work of painting in public

Materials / Visual Aids: Projector, computer for presenting the reproduction of “Cityscape” (1963) by Richard Diebenkorn or slide projector and the slide with the reproduction of  “Cityscape” by Richard Diebenkorn.

Words are listed in the order in which they appear in the text

deride(d) (v + o) – mock, laugh at ridicule
avidly (adv) – eagerly, with great enthusiasm
didactic (adj qualit) – instructive, intended to teach a moral lesson or eager to teach people
compel(s) (v + o + inf) – oblige, cause, demand or force to do something
abruptly (adv) – sharply, unexpectedly
apex (n, count) – top, pointed end of something
momentarily (adv) – temporarily, lasting for a very short period of time
parcel(s) (n count, uncount) – part, amount or quantity of things or people

• Warm-up activity (Class Discussion, 10 minutes). Discuss the following questions:

  1. What do you know about abstract art?
  2. Do you know where and when abstract painting appeared?
  3. What famous abstract painters do you know?
  4. What is the difference between cityscape, landscape and seascape?
  5. What kind of landscape would you like to put in your room?

Activity 1 (10-15 minutes). Ask the students to free write the description of the scenery each of them see from his (her) room window. (The students may be asked beforehand to bring a photo of a landscape).

Activity 2 (10 minutes). Ask the students to look at the painting “Cityscape” by Richard Diebenkorn and discuss the work of art:

1. Did the artist manage to capture the atmosphere of the city depicted?
2. What effect is achieved while arranging colors in patches?
3. What impression do the hard-edged geometric forms make on you?
4. Can we say that the artist conveyed the spirit of American life?
5. Is an unornamented architecture a drawback of the scenery or its integral   part?
6. How does the painter combine shades and colors?
7. Can we trace any traditions of austere abstractions in this picture?

Follow-up activity (2 minutes): The students should in turn compare the painting with the view of the city from his (her) room window. In the end of the speech everyone should answer one and the same question: Can abstract impressionism be called an international style? (Every speaker should give at least one argument if “Yes” or “No”).

Activity 3 (10 minutes). Discuss in pairs one of the following topics making use of the words and word combinations given below. (The students may be asked beforehand to bring the photos of the pictures they like most).

Topic 1: The abstract painting which impressed you most. the world of fine art, dialogue between the studio and the street, depicted with meditative scrutiny, to use the technique of illustration, the greedy vitality of street, epic-scaled abstractions, to combine in a melange, to have a profound effect on somebody, creative dynamism, robust energy, to predominate.

Topic 2. The picture of your favorite painter. a fluid image, to apply color over color, to reproduce the exact setting, to leave somebody with an impression  of a landscape,   to recreate, to tell visually about the subject,  to depict, elegant and lyrical graceful lines, a language of nostalgia, poetic reverie, sense of poetry, the subject of the picture, color scheme.

Follow-up activity (3 minutes): In turn reproduce the description of a painting to the class.

Activity 4 (10 minutes). Work in pairs. Match the names of famous artists with the styles they represent. Explain your choice, using active vocabulary. The teacher may display the photos of the most famous works of the artists to the students.  

New York School (Abstract                            Frank Stella

Pop Art                                                            Jackson Pollock

Tachism (Action Painting)                              Jasper Johns

Minimal Style                                                  Lin Maya

Site-Sculpture Movement                                Claes Oldenburg   

Follow-up activity (15 minutes): The students should be divided into five groups. Each group should describe one work of art represented using the vocabulary from Activity 3 or from the Glossary of the lesson.           

EXTENSION (3-5 minutes): Imagine your being a guide in San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Tell the visitors about the painting “Cityscape” by Richard Diebenkorn as a typical representative of an urban culture.