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The Many Moods of Art


Amanda Thompson Rundahl


May 1, 2009

Institution ArtsConnectEd

Happy? Sad? Angry? Scared? Artists capture and express many different moods and emotions. Some may seem obvious, while others may be more subtle or nuanced. Individual viewers may have very different impressions of the mood or emotional state of the artist, subject or style of a work of art.

This set includes works of art from the permanent collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

On your own or with a group/class look closely at the images in this set and the ask:

  • What adjectives (descriptive words) would you use to describe this work of art?
  • What is the primary mood, feeling or emotion you see or feel when looking at the image? What do you see that makes you say that?
  • Study the image again. Describe any secondary (less prominant) or contradictory emotions in the artwork. If there are any, what are they? What do you see that makes you say that?
  • Discuss any ambiguous or puzzling feelings expressed in this artwork. What are some possible interpretations? What do you see that makes you say that?

You may find not everyone agrees about the feelings expressed by these works of art. That's to be expected! Human emotion is complex. These images, like many artworks, lend themselves to multiple interpretations.



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Type: Instructional Set
Grades: 5-Adult
Instructional Method: Classroom Discussion, Thematic Approach
Added to Site: May 1, 2009