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AP French



Unit 3

3.4 How Art Records History

2 min readnovember 1, 2020


Claire Duggan

AP French  🇫🇷

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How is art used to record history?

En quoi les arts sont-ils utilisés pour témoigner de l’histoire?

"Un art qui a de la vie ne reproduit pas le passé ; il le continue." ~ Auguste Rodin


Le Penseur, Rodin (1904) Image Courtesy of wikimedia

This essential question really gets at the role of art in our lives. Painting 🖼️ literature 📖 music 🎶 and other forms of art are really the archives of a society’s collective memory. Rodin's quote above expresses this idea: art that has life doesn't reproduce that past; it continues it. As long as we have art, the past is alive!
The Bayeux tapestry (seen above) depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest and culminating in the Battle of Hastings in 1066. It was created in 1070, and could be considered an early version of a storyboard.


Dans un café, (1875) Edgar Degas (Image Courtesy of commons.wikimedia)

Art preserves what historical records cannot: how it felt to exist in a particular space and time. So we can say that art is a form of communication; it allows people from different cultures and different times to communicate with each other through images, stories, and even sounds. What is Edgar Degas communicating about middle-class Parisians in his famous painting, Dans un café? What are the subjects of the painting telling us?

Strive for Five Vocabulary 🔑

L'art sert à...
mot/expressionexplication en anglais
raconter le passételling the past
dépeindre les événements historiquesdepicting historical events
démontrer les sentiments et les émotions envers les événements historiquesdemonstrating the feelings and emotions towards historical events
communiquer les expériences de ceux qui vivaient avant nouscommunicating the experiences of those who lived before us
refléter la société dans laquelle l'artiste vivaitreflecting the society in which the artist lived

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