Art History Projects

Art & Influence
nothing is original

Art & Influence, Art History Projects


NA-VA.9-12.4: Understand the visual arts in relation to history and cultures
NA-VA.9-12.6: Make connections between visual arts and other disciplines
RH 9-10.3: Determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them
NL-ENG.K-12.8: Develop research skills

1. Choose and research two artworks

Imagine that you're a private investigator, and you've been asked to determine if an artwork by a well-known artist was influenced by a previous artwork. Choose two artworks, created at least 70 years apart, that seem to be similar in style, composition or subject matter, and research to come to a decision about whether the earlier artwork influenced the later artwork. Choosing artworks can be tricky, but don't be afraid to select pieces that are separated by hundreds of years or thousands of miles. Many artists studied and were influenced by art history, and you might uncover connections that surprise you. While you're choosing artworks, consider questions like the following:

  • What movements did the later artist work in? What previous movements were they responding to?
  • What were the global influences of the time? What was in-vogue?
  • Might the later artwork be an example of appropriation? What cultures could it have been influenced by?
  • Was the later artwork negatively influenced by the earlier one—was the artist rejecting an earlier idea?

2. Choose one of the projects below


Write a 2 page investigation that describes how the two images are or aren't related. Try to find tangible connections. Did the second artist know the work of the first? Did the second artist visit the place where the first artist worked? First, attempt to connect the works by any means necessary, then decide which of those connections seem realistic or far-fetched.


Compose a 1 act play, where you, the P.I., tell your client what you've discovered about the connection between the art pieces. Include why the client is interested in the outcome, and their response to the information you've uncovered.

Reed Enger, "Art & Influence, nothing is original," in Obelisk Art History, Published February 01, 2020; last modified October 05, 2022,

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