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Nicely printed flashcards are much better than online flashcards (few interactions between students) or printable flashcards (print quality not good enough and expensive to print) for teaching art history and appreciation... Unfortunately, they are also underused. However, it is very easy to create games that use them and they can be compelling tools at school and at home. That's why I created this list - short but effective!
What are the printed art history flashcards and how do you use them? There are 3 good ones available: "The Master Cards’ (250 cards), ‘The Louvre Art Deck’ (100 cards) and ‘Famous paintings' (30 cards). Supplemented with the 8 rules of the game that I propose, they become excellent teaching tools.
For this reason, I propose 8 rules that I will incorporate into this post that will allow the first two sets of flashcards in particular to become even more effective tools to teach art history and appreciation. So, keep reading!
The Master Cards
The Master Cardsis an incredible collection of250 index cards(4″ by 6″). Each card reproduces one of the most important paintings in western art history (and the selection of artworks is well documented on the website and brochure). The back of each card reads:
- an explanation of the meaning of the painting by an art history expert
- the name of the painter, his country of origin and the period in which he lived
- Title, date, medium (e.g. "oil on canvas") and dimensions of the painting
- the city and museum where the artwork is currently on display
The cards are very well made: high-quality printing that fully justifies the price (about 30 cents per card) and well thought-out information on the cards.
I love this flashcard deck because it's so comprehensive:
- The periods covered range from Renaissance art to Pop Art
- The paintings come from almost 100 different museums in Europe and North America
- 214 different painters are presented: Botticelli, Brueghel, Cézanne, da Vinci, Monet, Michelangelo, Picasso, Raphael, Rembrandt, van Gogh or Vermeer, among many others. This is really great for students as the deck makes it easy to focus on a specific period or genre and still have many representative paintings and variations in style.
- The presence of the museum (under 98), city (under 53) and country (under 13) where the artwork is exhibited allows:
- To prepare a city visit, especially for cities with many masterpieces such as Paris (31), London (31), New York (28), Washington DC (19), Florence (13), Madrid (11), Rome (9), Chicago (9), Philadelphia (8) or Vienna (7).
- Create a treasure hunt when you visit a specific museum with your kids!
- The paintings are reproduced in full (better than showing part of the paintings like some art history games do, since small maps are used)
I can only recommend the Masterpiece Cardsfor teachers who want to give their students an understanding of painting that spans many different eras.
However, there is one caveat: the box is made of very fragile, single-wall corrugated cardboard that cannot withstand the weight of the 250 cards. Being a publisher myself, I can assure you that I would not use such a fragile material for this heavy box. You must know that you will need to reinforce this box (e.g. fully laminate it) to ensure it doesn't tear and fall apart quickly.
My gift to you: 8 rules for upgrading the "Masterwork Cards" flashcard set.
Here are 8 rules you can use with this series of cards (all based on classic and simple rules mechanics that really work). They are not included in the box, so it's my little "gift" for you. you will beTurn this giant flashcard set into a real gameand make their use in the classroom or at home so much more interactive and effective.
In this version of War, players learn the dates, the names of the artists, and the cities where the artworks are on display.
|player||2 bis 8|
|objective||Win the most cards|
|Preparation||Keep about 50 cards from the game's 250 - either chosen at random or by time period, painting style, or artists you want to introduce students to (the exact number of cards is not important).|
Deal the cards face up to all players one at a time (the side with the painting). Each player then has a deck of cards.
|game guide||Each player reveals the top card of their deck face down (showing the back of the cards with information about the painting).|
When there are two players, each player places two cards on the table, one on top of the other (only the top card is used to determine the winner).
The player with the oldest painting takes all the cards (and puts them on the bottom of their deck) unless there is another card by the same artist or an exhibition in the same city (both pieces of information are readily available on the card, so they're easy to check). In this case, each player places a second card on top of the card already played.
|the end of the game||As soon as one of the players runs out of cards, the players compare their decks. The player with the most cards wins (so the game doesn't take too long).|
Variant: The player with the newest work of art takes all cards.
Variation: Instead of the city, you can also enter the country where the artwork is exhibited.
Note: You may want to remove the Les Très Riches du Duc de Berry, February card from the game, as this card greatly increases the chance of winning the game.
In this version of Go Fish, players will learn specific characteristics of the artworks, such as: B. their artistic movement (cubism, rococo, …), genre (landscape, still life, etc.)
|player||2 to 5 players|
(but can be played up to 10)
|objective||Collect as many families as possible.|
A card family is a number of cards that share a common characteristic, for example:
– Genre (story, portrait, everyday, landscape)
– Art movement (impressionism, cubism, pop art)
– Exhibited in the same museum
|Preparation||Keep about 50 cards from the game's 250 (chosen by genre, museum art movement, defining families and/or periods you wish to address). The exact number of cards is not important.|
Deal cards to each player in turn:
– With 2 or 3 players: 7 cards
– With 4 or 5 players: 5 cards
– With 6 to 8 players: 4 cards
– With 9 to 10 players: 3 cards
The remaining cards are placed face up on the table in a pile.
|game guide||Choose a player to start the game. The game will then rotate.|
When it is the player's turn:
– If he has no card, he draws a card from the deck
- Choose another player and ask for the cards of a family in which he already has at least one card. (For example, "Do you have expressionist paintings?".
– Passes all requested cards (the family's cards, including those of the asking player, are shown to ensure there is no error). In this case, the asking player can ask another player for another family if he/she can.
- If he/she doesn't have one, they say "Go fish!" and the other player draws the top card of the deck and puts it in his/her deck. In this case, the game switches to the next player.
When the asking player gets all the cards of a family, he shows them and puts them on the table in front of him.
|the end of the game||The game ends when all families have been won. The winner is the player with the most families.|
Top: To make the game easier to set up and play, it is better to make a list (on a spreadsheet that you print out) of the artworks with their corresponding families, as some of them are not directly mentioned on the cards themselves. This way you can also print a list of all artworks for each family. This allows players to check if they have already collected all the paintings of a particular family or if one is missing. You can also put small colored dots (or symbols) on the cards to make it easier to identify the genre and art movements.
This game allows players to get a sense of the chronology of the history of painting. Once the game is over, the cards on the table are arranged in a chronological timeline (hence the name of the game, inspired by "Timeline", a classic and very popular game by Asmodee).
|player||2 bis 5|
|objective||Be the first to place all your cards on the table in the correct chronological place.|
|Preparation||Place a card face down on the table, date visible.|
Deal each player 4 cards face up (so players cannot see the dates of each artwork). Each player places the cards in front of them.
Place the remaining cards in a pile on the table, pictures above.
|game guide||The players take turns playing.|
When it is the player's turn:
– Plays one of his cards face down (paintings visible) between two cards already on the table to respect the chronological order of the paintings (older paintings are on the left).
- Returns the map to check if the chronological placement is correct (with the dates).
If the card was:
– correctly placed, it stays there, “date” side up, and the player's turn is over.
– not placed correctly, it is returned to the box. The player draws a card from the rest of the deck and places it face up in front of them next to their other cards.
|the end of the game||The game ends when one of the players runs out of cards. He/she then wins the game.|
Tip: You can split the 250 cards to let several groups play at the same time!
This game will draw players' attention to the composition, characters and general atmosphere of the paintings.
|player||3 bis 20|
|objective||Guess which work of art is imitated.|
|Preparation||Divide the players into 3 to 4 teams of 1 to 5 students.|
Place 20 paintings on tables and have students look at them for a few minutes. You can return the cards and should try to remember the title and composition of the painting.
|game guide||Shuffle the cards.|
A team takes a card without showing it to the other teams and mimics the card without saying anything (this can be done by each player doing a separate mimic, or by everyone doing a group mimic, for example trying to composition to reproduce the painting).
The other teams try to figure out which artwork was imitated.
If a team guesses an artwork correctly, both teams win a point.
The next teams must then choose another piece of art to imitate.
|the end of the game||The game ends after 12 imitations.|
Tip: Some artworks are more difficult to imitate, so teams only imitate 12 of the 20 available artworks.
This game is great for:
- Encourage collaboration between students
- Understand how to formulate clear and concise instructions
- Learn to avoid misunderstandings
- Think about the composition of artworks
- Improve quick sketching ability
|objective||Draw a sketch of the artwork without seeing it.|
|Preparation||Place a cache between players so that the player giving the instructions cannot see what the other player is drawing and the player drawing cannot see the artwork.|
Player #1 draws a card from the deck and hides it from the other player.
The other player has a piece of paper and a pencil.
|game guide||Player #1 gives a drawing instruction. For example "Draw a wide horizontal line down the middle of the paper".|
Player #2 moves as instructed, with no further help from player #1.
When player #2 is done, player #1 gives another drawing instruction.
The two players continue until player #1 decides the sketch is complete.
|the end of the game||The two players compare the original artwork with the sketch.|
This game increases the facts that players know about the artworks played during the game and makes them think about how to categorize artworks.
|player||2 bis 15|
|objective||Guess artworks by asking questions with yes/no answers.|
|Preparation||Choose 20 cards. The choice of cards can be based on your pedagogical goal (e.g. only Renaissance artworks).|
One player is the game master.
The other players are divided into 2 or more teams.
Players study the 20 artworks for a few minutes (they can look at both sides).
Then the cards are given to the game master, who hides them.
|game guide||The game master draws a card and hides it from the other players (for example, he is behind a curtain or some other cache that prevents the other players from seeing the card).|
The game rotates between teams.
At their turn, the team asks the game master a question.
The game master answers with either "yes" or "no" (no other answer is allowed). He can look at the map to find the right answer.
If a team thinks they have guessed the artwork, they can give the name of the artwork or, if they have forgotten the name of the artwork, the name of the artist and explain the subject of the painting.
If they guess correctly, they win the card.
Each team can give a maximum of 3 tips.
Once a team has guessed the artwork (teams have asked a total of 15 questions and cannot guess the artwork), the game master draws another artwork and has the players guess it.
|the end of the game||The game continues until 15 artworks have been drawn. The team with the most correct guesses (or cards won) wins the game.|
Tip: You can make the game more difficult by increasing the number of artworks.
This game will develop players' ability to quickly observe and analyze paintings in order to remember their main features. It will also develop their ability to read descriptions quickly and remember key facts about them.
|player||3 bis 5|
|objective||Answer as many questions as possible about a work of art.|
|Preparation||Choose 20 cards from the game for players to study.|
The other players try to answer his questions.
|game guide||The game turns. In each round, one player is the game master.|
The game master draws a card and places it on the table on each side for 20 seconds. During this time, the other players try to memorize as much of the artwork as possible.
Then the game master:
- Hides the card from the other players
- Asks 5 specific questions about the map. This can be the content of the painting or the explanations on the back.
For each question, the first player to give the correct answer gets a point.
If fewer than 3 questions are answered, the questions are considered too difficult and the game master loses a point. He/she will not ask questions that are too easy as he/she doesn't want the other players to gain too many points.
|the end of the game||When 20 cards have been used up, the player with the most points wins.|
Tip: Here is a list of possible questions you can ask:
- In which museum is this work of art exhibited?
- What is the genre of this painting?
(You can provide a list of existing genres to choose from e.g. landscape, abstraction, genre painting, nude, mythology... and provide a written list to allow for verification.)
- What is the art movement of this painting?
- In what century was this artwork painted?
- How many characters are there in the painting?
- Is the main subject facing left or right?
- What's the name of the painter?
- What is the title of the painting?
- Which color dominates in the picture?
Pass Es an
This game will help players understand the similarities between artworks, thus developing better observation and categorization skills.
|player||2 bis 4|
|objective||Get rid of all your cards|
|Preparation||Select several aspects (at least 3) of paintings for your students to work on, e.g. B. Subject, function, art direction/genre, artist, type of composition, forms in the artwork, colors ...|
Deal 10 cards to each player.
Place a card on the table (front) that starts the deck. Players can always check the back of the map for available information.
|game guide||The game turns.|
On his turn, the player (if he can) draws a card from his deck, places it on top of the deck, and declares a characteristic that matches between the two cards (e.g. artist, or belong to the same "impressionist" genre on, or are both portraits).
The other players can accept or decline the move, but must explain why they decline.
Then it is the next player's turn.
|the end of the game||The game is over when one of the players has put all their cards on the deck.|
Why This Flashcard Set Really Works
You might think I'm going nuts with the Masterpiece Cards flashcard set. I believe this card set has a lot of potential!
This is due to three factors:
- There is real information on the cards.
- Their size makes them relatively easy to manipulate, but large enough to see the details of the painting.
- With 250 cards, you can choose a subset of cards for the topic or period you want to study
The cards would have been even better if the genre of the painting (Impressionism, Baroque, Mannerism…) had been mentioned on the cards themselves and if color coding had been used to make sorting the cards easier. This would have made the cards even easier to handle from a gameplay perspective, but that's really not a big deal compared to all the qualities of the deck.
Since they are very diverse, you can also use them, for example, to “break the ice” between people who are meeting for the first time (e.g. in a training course). Ask each trainee to choose a card that fits his/her personality or personal experience, and then ask each player to explain to everyone why he/she chose that card. This can even work for a relatively large group since the cards are larger than playing cards and the deck has so many cards to choose from.
The Louvre Art Deck (Anja Grebe)
This is really very high qualityDeck of cards with paintings from the Louvre Museum. Aside from being well printed and big enough, the deck is also very good because:
- There are100 cards(with 100 artworks including 90 paintings and 10 sculptures and other artworks). You really get "value for your money"
- The selection of artworks is very good. This is made possible by the fact that "Le Louvre" has the largest collection of paintings in the world
- The artworks are printed on the full size of the cards, making them more beautiful.
- On the back of each card is a very interesting text by art historian Anja Grebe, giving you pointers to analyze the masterpiece; for example what to look for when looking at the painting, information about the techniques used, biographical information, the name of the painting, the artist and more.
I can only recommend this beautiful card game, which is really not expensive!
By the way, the rules I suggested for "The Master Cards' also work for The Louvre Art Deck.
And if you are planning to visit "Le Louvre" in Paris, this game will give you a great introduction to your visit.
So often people visit museums and just look at the artworks without really being able to appreciate them properly because they don't have any background information. We often have little time during a museum visit and it is not so easy to read the information provided in the museum or listen to the audio guide provided.
The Vatican Art Deck (Anja Grebe)
By the way, Anja Grebe wrote a second similar card game, which you can have a look at:The Vatican Art Deck: One Hundred Masterpieces. It's also very good, but of course the collection of artworks is less diverse and oriented towards religious art.
It would be nice to have more of these from other major museums around the world! 🙂
Famous Paintings (Usborne)
TheIndex card set with 30 cardsis intended for children (I would recommend 5-10 year olds, although technically viable for younger children). The selection of artwork is good for all ages, but the text on the back of the cards is not intended for older students.
The set has many positive aspects:
- The cards are large (4″x6″), well printed, thick and with rounded corners for easier handling
- Works of art are adapted to the target age group: understandable for everyone and among the most famous paintings in the world (30 different artists from the Renaissance to the Modern)
- Reasonable price
- Information on the back of the card includes:
- The artist
- Title, date and medium of the painting
- Where it was painted and in which museum it is on display
- Descriptive text that is easy for children to understand, indicating items to look for in the image
SoI highly recommendalso this flashcard set!
Art historical card games and playing card games
There are other options than flashcards. Card games are more convenient for dynamic play and for rules where you manipulate a lot of cards.
There are many art history card games (with special cards and with playing cards). Please check my two following posts which will give you all information about it:
- „15 art historical card games for schools and families' shows you all available card games, divided into 'Famous Painting Games', 'Famous Artists and Movements Games' and 'Art History Trivia Games'.
- „18 art history card games for school and family” shows you all standard playing cards with artwork (only decks where each card has different artwork are considered, not those where artwork is only used to decorate the back of the cards or the case.
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