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These activities focus on works of art in the Whitney’s collection and special exhibitions. Through discussion, research, art making, and writing activities, we hope to encourage close looking, foster conversation between students, and connect artwork to classroom learning. Learn about our four artist-centered themes.

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Think about abstraction.

Arthur Garfield Dove was one of the first American artists to explore abstraction. Ferry Boat Wreck is an abstracted version of a specific event; a shipwreck he witnessed near his home in Oyster Bay, Long Island. The dark forms of the sinking boat are outlined against a jagged strip of sand in the foreground and successive bands of waves that merge into clouds.

Ask students what the word abstract might mean. After discussing their ideas, let them know that abstraction refers to a work of art that is not recognizable as a picture of a person, place, or thing. Abstract art may reflect an emotion, a sensation, or an aspect of the real world that has been simplified, generalized, distorted, or rearranged.

Ask students to think about a recent event. How would they create an abstract image of that event?

Arthur Dove, Ferry Boat Wreck, 1931  56.21 For Teachers