Lesson Plan

Composition and Content in the Visual Arts

"Two Children Teasing a Cat" by Annibale Carracci (1590).
Photo caption

"Two Children Teasing a Cat" by Annibale Carracci (1590).

While not every painting tells a story, those that do must find a way to convey a narrative—events that happen in time—in just one, static image. How do artists create a story that provides a message or provokes emotions in that single frame? This lesson will help students analyze ways in which the composition of a painting contributes to telling the story or conveying the message through the placement of objects and images within the painting.

Guiding Questions

How does the composition of an artwork help convey a particular story and/or message?

Learning Objectives

Identify different kinds of narratives used in a number of art works

Discuss the artist’s use of compositional elements to further the story and/or convey a message within a work of art

Explain the relationship between composition and content in a number of works of art