“One of the most beloved artists by the public is Vincent Van Gogh. At any given time in the world, there is a Van Gogh showing. The current one entitled “Becoming van Gogh” is at the Denver Art Museum, until January 20, 2013, and will not travel to any other sites.” T. Loos, NYT
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: Van Gogh’s Evolution, From Neophyte to Master
By Ted Loos, New York Times
“There are some artists on whom the sun never sets.
Van Gogh is certainly one of them, given his status as an artist beloved by the public and revered by curators, a genius with a compelling, sad life story to boot…
The latest major entry is “Becoming van Gogh” at the Denver Art Museum. The exhibition, featuring 70 works by the master and 20 by other artists who inspired him…The show traces van Gogh’s development through the 1880s from a struggling, inhibited neophyte, represented by works like the drawings “Girl Carrying a Loaf of Bread” (1882), to a painter in full flourish who could make the shimmering “Landscape from Saint-Rémy” (1889)…
But while van Gogh’s reputation virtually guarantees that people will flock to the show, It’s the hardest kind of exhibition to put together, Mr. Standring (the curator who organized the Denver show) said. The trick for curators is twofold. First, they must come up with a fresh angle on an artist who lived to be only 37 and consequently did not produce as many works, as, say, Picasso. Second, they have to secure loans of incredibly valuable artworks from museums that might be reluctant to share…Mr. Standring’s first step was to make a call to Amsterdam. When you plan a van Gogh exhibit, you need to get blessing of the Van Gogh Museum… because of its ability to lend works and share its expertise.”
Level: Intermediate -Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.
Objective: Students will read the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views of the artist Van Gogh through discussions, writing, and projects.
I. Pre-Reading Tasks
Analyzing Words and Terms
Directions: Teacher writes several words and phrases on the board. Place students in groups and review the list of words with them. Then have students place each word in one of the categories listed below. After, they are to write a paragraph explaining what they think the article is about using as many of these words /terms as possible. Have each group share their stories with the class. Visit McGraw-Hill for a slightly different version of the graph.
II. While Reading Tasks
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary or thesaurus for assistance. Have the students write sentences using each word. Have students use this wonderful chart from Enchanted Learning to assist them with new vocabulary.
- Van Gogh’s Evolution, From Neophyte to Master.
- Van Gogh… given his status as an artist, revered by curators…
- Joseph J. Rishel is a curator of European paintings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
- The show traces van Gogh’s development through the 1880s from a struggling, inhibited neophyte.
- Mr. Standring said he wanted to give nuance to the popular perception of the artist as sui generis.
- Van Gogh’s struggles with illness and the artistic flourishing of his last two years.
- We all think he’s a genius, but he placed a lot of value on craftsmanship.
- The painting was authenticated in 2010, and it was lent to Denver.
- That gave us our imprimatur, Mr. Standring said.
True / False
Directions: The following statements were taken from the article. If a statement is true, students write (T) if a statement is false they write (F) and provide the correct answer from the article.
- Because of his problems, Van Gogh was not really loved by the public.
- There aren’t many van Gogh shows on the horizon.
- The van Gogh museum is located in Switzerland .
- The name of the latest major entry is “Becoming van Gogh.
- The exhibit is being shown at the at the Colorado Art Museum.
- Timothy Standring, is the curator who organized the Denver show.
- Mr. Standring’s first step was to make a call to the Philadelphia museum.
- For Van gogh’s work, people are generally unfamiliar with anything pre-Sunflowers or pre-Wheatfields…
- According to Mr. Van Tilborgh, Van Gogh developed his work by being persistent.
- Mr. Standring added that he hoped both shows would deepen an understanding of the artist.
Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article (some may be abbreviated versions). One sentence in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error and make the correction.
- The latest major entry is “Becoming van Gogh” on the Denver Art Museum.
- The exhibition, features 70 works by the master and 20 by other artists who inspired him.
- The exhibition is scheduled to remain on view until Jan. 20 and does not travel to any other sites.
- The trick for curators is twofold.
- First, they must come up with a fresh angle on a artist who lived to be only 37.
- Second, they have to secure loans of incredibly valuable artworks from museums.
- Mr. Standring’s first step was to make a call to Amsterdam.
- When you plan an van Gogh exhibit, you need to get blessing of the Van Gogh Museum.
- A senior researcher there, Mr. Standring laid out an idea for one exhibition.
III. Post Reading Tasks
Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. After, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics.
1. The article states, “ There are some artists on whom the sun never sets. Van Gogh is certainly one of them, given his status as an artist beloved by the public…” How would you rephrase this statement into your own words?
2. What does the statement “There’s always a van Gogh show on the horizon, just as there’s always Beethoven being played somewhere,” mean?
3. Mr. Standring states, “But while van Gogh’s reputation virtually guarantees that people will flock to the show, “It’s the hardest kind of exhibition to put together”. Why would this type of exhibition be a problem, if Van Gogh is so famous?
4. Go to the site The Van Gogh Gallery http://www.vangoghgallery.com and choose what you and your group members feel is the best painting by Van Gogh. Research this painting and write a short paragraph describing the time Van Gogh painted this particular work. For example, his age, where he was living, what inspired him etc.