Camouflage Sound Activity

Explore Intuitive Responses to a Work of Art
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Andy Warhol, Camouflage, 1986, ©AWF

Students use listening, viewing, writing and communication skills in this lesson to explore their own intuitive responses and interpretations of an artwork. Sound clips are played while students look at a work of art and write their feelings, thoughts and associations. Valuable comprehension and discussion questions allow for a rich follow-up conversation.

Grades:

4-12 

Subjects:

Art, Aesthetics, Language Arts & Writing, Social Studies, Cultural Studies 

Suggested Time Frame:

1 class period 

Objectives:

  • Students will describe Warhol's use of design elements 
  • Students will associate personal ideas and experiences with an abstract work of art
  • Students will describe new thoughts and feelings about an artwork as music is added to the environment
  • Students will theorize how music or sounds influence interpretations
  • Students will speculate how different environments affect our experiences of art
 
Andy Warhol, Statue of Liberty, 1986, ©AWF
Andy Warhol, Statue of Liberty, 1986, ©AWF

About the Art:

Warhol is reported to have asked his studio assistants, “What can I do that would be abstract but not really abstract?” Camouflage gave him the opportunity to work with both an abstract pattern and an immediately recognizable image, rich in associations. Unlike military motifs, Warhol’s Camouflage paintings reflect bright synthetic and inorganic colors, which would not provide a veil or disguise in any landscape. Created by artists at the military’s request, camouflage dates from the early 20th century. It was first used for concealment of equipment, and then for uniforms. As Warhol invented more camouflage works he incorporated the pattern into his self-portraits. In these works, the juxtaposition of identity and disguise mirrors the artist’s lifelong struggle to gain notoriety while keeping his own private life hidden.

Warhol also collaborated with the fashion designer Stephen Sprouse to create a line of camouflage clothing. This apparel brought the association of war into high fashion: women dressed in camouflage gowns did not blend in, but instead attracted attention in urban settings. Over the past few decades the military has struggled to create an effective urban camouflage uniform, but hasn’t succeeded because the environment is constantly changing. Unfettered by such concerns, the main interest of contemporary urban clothing designers is to make a bold statement. 

Andy Warhol, Self-portrait, 1986, ©AWF
Andy Warhol, Self-portrait, 1986, ©AWF

Points of View:

 

Having been in the military, this piece reminds me of the impact on our society by the military industrial complex. Much of its influence is camouflaged. It is woven into our national infrastructure as technological improvements, communications and security; while some military influence is readily apparent in the fashions young people wear. This piece reminds me that it is not so much “what you do see” as it is “what you don’t see.” “Can you see me?”

Reverend Thomas E. Smith, Monumental Mission Ministries. 
 

To call these paintings decorative would be short-sighted, for in manipulating the size, shape and colors of the traditional military fabric—a fabric designed not to be seen—he demonstrates an almost effortless ability to summon up an entire range of art historical references, from Chinese landscapes to Monet’s Water Lilies . . . Of course pretending he didn’t know anything about art history was one of the many ways in which Warhol camouflaged himself. He told countless interviewers that Walt Disney was his favorite artist, while quietly amassing a collection that including paintings by Corot, Fragonard, Picasso, Fontana and Yves Klein, among others.

Bob Colacello, writer and former Warhol associate. 
Visitors to the museum view one of Andy Warhol's largest Camouflage paintings
Visitors to the museum view one of Andy Warhol's largest Camouflage paintings

Discussion Questions: 

  1. What do you feel, think and associate with this painting?
  2. What do you think the painting might mean?
  3. Where do we most often view art works? Describe that environment.
  4. Where would you least want to put an important work of art and why?
  5. Is the environment important to the artwork?
  6. Is the viewer’s experience important to the artwork?
 
Procedure

Materials:

Music clip: Spring, VivaldiMusic clip: I Feel Love, Donna SummerMusic clip: War, Edwin Starr
PaperPencilsResponse Sheets 

Procedure:

  1. Print out the response sheets for students.
  2. Look at the artwork without discussing any information about the work (historical/cultural context, interpretations, criticisms, etc.).
  3. Write down your feelings, thoughts, associations, and observations while looking at the work in silence.
  4. Listen to the first music clip: Spring, Vivaldi.
  5. Do not try to identify the music; instead, write down any new feelings, thoughts, associations and observations while looking and listening.
  6. Listen to the second music clip: War, Edwin Starr. Repeat step five.
  7. Listen to the third music clip: I Feel Love, Donna Summer. Repeat step five.
  8. Compare and contrast your personal responses to the different pieces of music to the responses of your peers.
  9. Reflect on the responses, and then write a brief analysis.
 
Assessment

Wrap-up: 

How did your experience viewing the art change as the music changed? How did the meaning and context of the artwork change as your experience changed? Did the music enhance your experience of the artwork or was it distracting? Hypothesize other environmental factors that could affect the way a person views a work of art (example: highlighting, temperature, etc.).

Warhol Education Rubrics

Click the Warhol Rubric headers below to reveal associated rubrics to which this lesson applies.

Critical Thinking
Aesthetics
Communication
Creative Process
Historical Context
Media and Related Items
Collection
Explore Warhol's other self-portraits in our collection
Explore Warhol's other self-portraits in our collection
Audio
Spring, Vivaldi (excerpt)
War, Edwin Starr (excerpt)
I Feel Love, Donna Summer (excerpt)