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Visual Arts, year 3, second semester:
English language course


Main topic : Early twentieth century American painting
Aim : Develop your understanding, speaking and writing skills in English language, while learning about major painters in the history of American art.

Method : Reading and listening, translation into English, translation into French, and written expression.

Self-service to English grammar: the grammar yellow pages

Follow English courses at the Maison des Langues.

Find the class documents, texts + exercises here.



PART ONE : Robert Henri (1865-1929)
Robert Henri's life and works Focus on two significant paintings Going further...
  • Read a biography of Henri

  • Watch an overview of Henri's paintings :



  • Snow in New-York, 1902

    The portrait of Gertrude
    Vanderbilt Whitney
    , 1916
    Listen to the audio commentary.
  • Learn about the Ashcan School of painting (1900-1915).

  • Watch a video on the Armory Show (1913).



  • PART TWO : Guy Pène Du Bois (1884-1958)
    Learn about Du Bois Language skills and practise Going further...
  • Guy Pène du Bois' biography from the Phillips Collection website.

  • Focus on three paintings by Du Bois :

    42nd Street (1945),        Chanticleer (1922)          and Café Dôme (1926).

  • Watch a video commentary on Chanticleer here.

  • Read a commentary on Café Dôme here.
  • Quantifiers : read paragraph 4D in the yellow pages, then do the following two exercises : exercise one ; exercise two

  • Link words exercises : A, B, C, D, E.
  • Learn more about the "flappers", fashionable women in the Roaring Twenties, often painted by Du Bois.



  • Learn more about the Art Students League, where Du Bois taught.



  • PART THREE : Stuart DAVIS (1892-1964)
    Learn about Davis Language skills and practise Going further...
  • Stuart DAVIS' biography.

  • Focus on three paintings by Davis :

    Lucky Strike (1921),      House and Street (1931)       and Swing Landscape (1938).

  • Read a commentary on House and Street here.
  • Expression of probability :

    He must be influenced by Henri
    He can be influenced by Henri
    He may be influenced by Henri
    He might be influenced by Henri
    He can't be influenced by Henri

    He must have been influenced by Henri.
    He can have been influenced by Henri.
    He may have been influenced by Henri.
    He might have been influenced by Henri.
    He can't have been influenced by Henri.

    Read paragraphs 3F7 to 3F10 in the yellow pages, then do the following two exercises : Level A ; Level B

  • Sentences like “so do I” / “neither do I”
    Read paragraph 3i1 in the yellow pages, then do the following exercise : Level B
  • Learn more about the 1929 Wall Street crash and the Great Depression between 1929 and 1939.

  • Learn more about the swing music, and Glenn Miller





  • PART FOUR : Georgia O'KEEFFE (1887-1986)
    Learn about O'KEEFFE Language skills and practise Going further...
  • Georgia O'Keeffe's biography.

  • Focus on three paintings by O'Keeffe :

    Grey line with black blue and yellow (1923) : commentary
    Jimson Weed White Flower n°1 (1932) : commentary
    Cow's Skull with Calico Roses (1931) : commentary

  • Watch a video about an O'Keeffe retrospective at the Tate here.
  • Watch a full-length documentary about Georgia O'Keeffe here.
  • Grammar: verb base / to + verb base / ING. :
    Read paragraph 3G in the yellow pages, then do the following exercises : Level A ; Level B
  • A video about Alfred Stieglitz.
  • Learn more about Alfred Stieglitz here.

  • Learn more about New Mexico landscapes which inspired Georgia O'Keeffe here.





  • PART FIVE : Thomas Hart BENTON (1881-1975)
    Learn about BENTON Language skills and practise Going further...
  • Thomas Hart BENTON's biography.

  • Focus on four paintings by BENTON :

    Achelous and Hercules mural (1947) : commentary


    The Sources of Country Music (1975) : commentary
    The Wreck of the Ole '97 (1932) : commentary
    Cut the Line (1944)

  • Watch a full-length documentary about Benton making the mural of Achelous and Hercules here. Read the script here.
  • Grammar: The passive voice with verbs like give, offer, send, ask, tell, etc.
    Read paragraph 3H2 in the yellow pages, then do the following exercises : Level A ; Level B ; Level C
  • Listen to Johnny Cash singing The Wreck of the Ole '97
  • Learn more about Missouri here.





  • PART SIX : Grant WOOD (1891-1942)
    Learn about WOOD Language skills and practise Going further...
  • Grant WOOD's biography.

  • Focus on three paintings by WOOD:

    Amercian Gothic (1930) : commentary
    Spring in the Country (1941) : commentary
    The Birhtplace of Herbert Hoover (1931) : commentary

  • Les pronoms relatifs.

    Exercices : niveau A, niveau B

  • Il faut WHO (qui/que) car l’antécédent est un être humain

  • Il faut WHICH (qui/que) car l’antécédent n’est pas un être humain.

  • THAT (qui/que) peut remplacer who et which dans une subordonnée relative déterminative uniquement :

    He’s talking to the man that I met yesterday. : la subordonnée participe à la détermination de l’antécédent, le référent de l’antécédent n’est pas clair sans la subordonnée. WHO (WHOM) est ici possible également.

    He’s talking to John, who(m) I met yesterday : la subordonnée peut être omise sans changer le sens de l’antécédent. THAT est impossible ici.

    Exercices : niveau A, niveau B

  • Il faut WHAT (ce que / ce qui) pour annoncer un élément nouveau.

    I don’t know what you want/ J’ignore ce que vous voulez.

    What bothers me is the noise/ Ce qui m’incommode c’est le bruit.

  • Il faut WHICH (ce que / ce qui) pour reprendre toute la proposition précédente :

    We went to the beach yesterday, which explains why we are tanned : ce qui…

    The beach was crowded, which I found unpleasant : ce que…

  • Il faut WHOSE + nom (à qui / dont) :

    Whose book is this ? / A qui est ce livre ?

    The woman whose blouse is blue is my aunt. / La femme dont le chemisier est bleu est ma tante.

  • Watch a video about Grant Wood.



  • Learn more about Iowa here.




  • PART SEVEN : Edward HOPPER (1882-1967)
    Learn about HOPPER Language skills and practise Going further...
  • Edward HOPPER's biography : Text one
  • Visions of loneliness in Hopper's paintings : Text two
  • Art and architecture in Hopper's paintings : Text three


  • Webmuseum : an easy introduction, with picture gallery
  • Wikipedia : an extensive introduction
  • Hopper's Paris years
  • A picture gallery
  • Picture analysis : Automat
  • Les prépositions :
            liste,
            cours et exercice sur les prépositions de mouvement
  • Picture analysis : Nighthawks
  • Watch a video about Nighthawks.