Comparing Images

A resource for teaching students to compare art works

Selected images

The pairs of images in the gallery below are especially selected for teaching students to compare and contrast artworks in preparation for Part 1,The Comparative Study. A comparison is more effective when it has a strong basis for comparing: some shared interest, be it concept, context, subject matter, medium or technique. The page Choosing artworks for comparison goes into more detail.

This is meant to be a time saving teaching aide, but you may prefer to choose your own pairs of images eventually.

On the page Skills for CS you will find suggestions for introducing gradually the skills required to make an independent comparative study.

For the final Comparative Study students should select their own artworks based on their areas of personal interests. The final CS will also involve at least 3 artworks, possibly more.

In the gallery are 8 sets of image pairs that are well suited to teaching a guided comparison. In some of the pairs, one art work is clearly acknowledging or referencing an earlier work, and others are completely unaware of each other and their possible commonalities and differences. Each pair is chosen from differing cultural or historical contexts and each share varying degrees of connection.

Teaching options

each of these activities builds on the previous and can be taught over several months time
  1. Assign one pair of images to the whole class as a first exercise, following the Basic Guidelines for Comparing below.
  2. Let students choose their own pair from the gallery for a somewhat more independent comparison
  3. Invite students to bring in a third artwork of their own choice by another artist
  4. Make an artwork in response to the works under consideration (HL)

Basic Guidelines for Comparing

in preparation for the CS

The Artworks and their Context

Identify each art work selected and discuss:

  1. Cultural contexts of work
  2. The Formal Elements , “the what”
  3. Meaning of work, possible interpretations, “the why”
  4. Material and conceptual significance “the how”

Making Connections

Compare and contrast the works selected

  1. Compare the cultural contexts of the work, how are they shaped by their culture and time?
  2. Compare the formal qualities, how are they similar, how do they differ?
  3. Compare the content, motifs, signs, symbols…how is meaning communicated?
  4. Compare the material and conceptual significance, how is this related to cultural context?

Download Basic guidelines for comparing

Image Gallery

This gallery has 8 pairs of images, click on the thumbnail to enlarge image.

This image gallery is also available as a pdf Slideshow of images for comparing

An example of a full comparative study will be coming soon!

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