Content areas 1 and 2 of Visual Studies mainly reference the canon of art history. The student must choose one section of focus within content area 1, Europe and the wider world and one section of focus within content area 2, Ireland and its place in the wider world. For the written component, these must be studied using all the elements of the Visual Studies Framework. This will support students when learning in-depth about examples of art and artists. Students should be able to, analyse, discuss and decode the work studied from these two content areas. Content Area 3, Today's World, has been developed further in the next section as a support for teaching and learning.
It is important that students understand the thinking and rationale behind the recognised artists of the periods/movements from their chosen sections of focus. Students also need to understand any relevant contextual settings. This will help students to more fully appreciate the period and society in which the work was created and if, and how, it may have affected artists or artworks of a later movement. It is also important that students understand the wider range and types of work that were created during the periods/movements that they choose to study.
Students should be given opportunities to develop their ability to analyse artworks when examining the contemporary and historical examples of the art that they study. It is by carefully observing and describing examples of Visual Studies that students will be enabled to better identify connections, patterns and links within a single example or across several examples. Students will also be able to use this skill to analyse their own, or another’s work. They will also gain insight into how similar themes may be evidenced in other examples of art or through the work of several artists over different periods/movements. These can also be influential on the student’s own work.
Art is predominantly an aesthetic experience. While mainly visual in nature it is built on the understanding that all work is developed through a combination of the use of the art elements and the design principles. Whether a drawn sketch, a realised painting or sculpture, an animation, a piece of video or performance art, the artist has considered the use of these elements and principles in their work. It is important that students understand this and learn how it affects the artists’ intent.
As art and artists’ processes have developed over time, from the very first representations of our world in cave paintings to the latest fully immersive virtual worlds, the choice of media has been important. It is how the artist creates and communicates. Within the field of Visual Studies, students will learn about the different media that contemporary/modern and historical artists have used, and how it affected the art of their time and reflected the society and period they lived in. Students will learn that the choice of media in creating work can be very important for an artist and will also understand how this relates to choices they make for their own work.
In learning about the inventions and innovations that have enabled societies to develop, students will gain an understanding how these have also been used by artists as inspiration, or in the creation of new materials through which they can better express their ideas.
We live in a globalised world and it is important that students learn not only about Irish artwork but also that of Europe and the wider world. The art market too exerts an influence on the art world in general and students should take this into account when they are looking at examples of artworks.