Dr. Anthony G. Picciano

on line with Lincoln Center Institute

Teaching   Artist;  John Toth

John Toth Lesson Plan

     To begin our on-line work I would like to present an image of a painting by Diego Rivera.  I would like to ask you a series of questions that will require that you look very closely at details is this painting. I prefer to give little information about this work of art and instead ask you to "visually read" the details and elements of the painting.

      We will deconstruct this painting in a method that will ask you to describe, analyze, interpret and reflect on your own observations and the observations of your peers. I will ask you to suspend your judgements so as to  fully engage your senses with the artwork in a search for meaning and understanding based on your own personal experience.   My method for engaging you with the art work is to consider  questioning  strategies that will stimulate investigation so as to find connections between the world of choice making  in art  and the making of choices we do in our daily lives.

      Later, in reflection, I will ask you how this exploration connects to curriculum and standards.

     Before you respond to any of these questions (unless you are the first to respond) consider the response of each others view. In the classroom my desire is for the questions to promote a conversation about the details and possible meanings in interpreting the artwork.  Students in my classrooms will frequently make comments on each others observations creating a "flow" of thinking, speculation and interpretation that builds a number of choices and paths towards understanding the world of art and  experience.

      I would like to go through 4 steps of exploration sequentially so please don't read the contextual information before we complete 1. Questions and 2. Activities.

Artwork Under Study:

DiegoRivera-t0001.jpg (2681 bytes)

Diego Rivera

" Agrarian Leader Zapata", 1931

fresco, 7'9"x 6'2"
Museum of Modern Art, NYC
Medium resolution  13K
High resolution   101K

                    double click image to enlarge

1a. Starting QUESTIONS:

What is going on in this picture?

Who are these people?

What does body their language suggest?

Describe objects that you see?  What purpose do they serve?

How does the artist use scale? How does this effect meaning?

1b. Follow-Up QUESTIONS:

What do you see that makes you say that?


2a. Write a brief story about a situation where you had to (or wished you had) stand up for and confront an obstacle or cause that was acting against someone who was oppressed.

2b. Make a drawing or a collage on your computer using symbol to represent some aspect of your story.

2c. Post your images online in e-mails.

2d. Reflection on ACTIVITY:

How does this activity make you reconsider the choices you observe in the work of art?
How does the use of symbolic language effect what is being communincated?


DIEGO RIVERA 1886 - 1957

Zapata, Revolution, Russia, Spain

The Art and Times of Diego Rivera

"Rivera had a morbid calmness towards death."

A study can be made on Don Francisco I. Madero who was a rich land owner believing in political liberty for the Mexican people. These twenty years of rule brought on many bloody rebellions, assassinations and couter-rebellions. But, however, his government did start programs to redistribute land, to improve public health, and to fight against illiteracy. It also adopted a more liberal constitution that established a minimum salary, an eight hour work day and much more.

The Annexation of Mexico: From the Aztecs to the IMF

Out in the countryside, Emiliano Zapata organized an army as did Francisco (“Pancho”) Villa, Alvaro Obregón, and Venustiano Carranza. The revolution began on November 20, 1910. When Diáz fled, a moderate liberal, Francisco Madero, took over on November 11, 1911. Too moderate for Zapata, the war was on. General Victoriano Huerta was sent to get him. Too liberal for the US, it connived in a bloody coup of 1913. But Huerta seized power. Whoops. Zapata, Obregón, Carranza, and Villa vowed to overthrow Huerta.

Mexican Muralists

Art Dossier

Diego Rivera murals at Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center

The Excitement of Diego Rivera

Liam K

The Excitement of Diego Rivera / Murals


Links to Diego Rivera web sites

Diego Rivera Links

Don Francisco I. Madero   * 1 Spanish

Don Francisco I. Madero  * 2 Spanish

madero.jpg (20531 bytes)

Biography of Francisco I. Madero

How does contextual information relate to your own exploration and interpretations of this work of art?

How does your own personal experience with the work of art intersect with what you learned about the work of art?

How was meaning constructed through out this process?