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PA State Standards:

Arts and Humanities:
9.1.A Recognize, know, use and demonstrate a variety of appropriate arts elements and principles to produce, review and revise original works in the arts.
9.2. A Explain the historical, cultural and social context of an individual work in the arts.

2.3.8 F. use scale measurements to interpret maps or drawings

Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening:
1.6.8 E Participate in small and large group discussions and presentations

Learning Objectives and Cognitive Skills:

Identify and Interpret:
Students will articulate messages in art and advertising
Students will explain how size can change the meaning and value of an object, image or concept

Synthesize and Apply
Students will select images from advertisements that communicate contradictory messages about size
Students will create large-scale art works from smaller advertising sources

Students will assess how the meaning of an object is changed as the scale is altered
Students will summarize the effects of ‘scaling’ in advertising upon consumers

Super Size It: Scale in Art and Advertising:
Jump to: About the Art | POV | Discussion | Activity | Image Gallery | At a Glance

Warhol - Hamburger   Andy Warhol
Hamburger, 1985-1986
acrylic on canvas
50 x 66 x 1 1/4 in. (127 x 167.6 x 3.2 cm.)
The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh
Founding Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.


About the Art:

A duality of values is often reflected in American culture. For example, Americans value both the history of being pioneers in a new world—of being autonomous—while they also value being able to buy exactly the same things and have the same lifestyle as their neighbors. Individualism and conformity easily coexist. Advertisements present these divergent ideas, often within the same magazine or television time slot. Size is another concept with dual messages in American contemporary culture. The idea that “bigger is better” is validated by the sales of SUVs, super-sized soft drinks, and bulk food at Wal-Mart. In reverse, small-sized models sell the benefits of diet programs and fitness regimes designed to scale back people’s proportions. In the 1960s, Andy Warhol and other Pop artists illuminated such cultural trends through art and art making processes.

Warhol used product advertising as source material for paintings throughout his career, from his 1960s Coca cola and Listerine to his 1980s Hamburger and Double $5/Weightlifter. He adopted the simplicity, scale, and graphic quality of billboard advertisements in these 1980s paintings. For example, in Hamburger, Warhol pairs the symbolic representation of a hamburger with the name of the product below it like a flashcard for an early reader. The use of red and yellow in this painting mimics that of McDonalds and shows an awareness of the perceptual research that concluded a close juxtaposition of the two colors would subconsciously induce hunger in the viewer. Likewise, the weightlifter image addresses Americans’ desire for beautiful bodies at a bargain price. In order to achieve the flat graphic colors of the marketing world, Warhol used a Beseler Vu-Lyte opaque projector to enlarge the hamburger sour! ce image. He traced the projected image in pencil onto canvas attached to a wall. After tracing the image, Warhol painted in the lines with simple colors.

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Points of View:

number one“The farther west we drove [to California, fall 1963], the more Pop everything looked on the highways. Suddenly we all felt like insiders because even though Pop was everywhere—that was the thing about it, most people still took it for granted, whereas we were dazzled by it—to us, it was the new Art. Once you “got” Pop, you could never see a sign the same way again.”

Andy Warhol, POPism, pp 39-40.

number one“Why do our artists reserve special consideration for the nation’s flag or presidents, hamburgers or movie queens? Are these subjects more worthy than others? I think not . . . these subjects are turned to not for the purpose of honoring them but in order to illustrate that anything can provide legitimate subject matter for the creative genius of the painter and sculptor.”

G. Nordland, art curator, My Country ‘Tis of Thee, exhibition catalogue,
Dwan Gallery, Los Angeles, 1962. (Not paginated) taken from Pop Art, An International Perspective p.35.

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Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the appeal in ordering something super size? What kinds of products do you want to buy in a small size?
  2. How does size change the meaning or value of an object?
  3. What messages are these paintings communicating? Compare and contrast the messages.
  4. What do these paintings convey about American culture?

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Activity: Creating Large Scale Paintings


Overhead Projector, Opaque Projector, or Digital Projector *

Note: the overhead projector uses transparencies; the opaque projector uses any kind of reproduced image. (Depending on which projector you use, you will need to photocopy images/words/symbols onto transparencies or paper, making any necessary enlargements.)

Photocopier Transparencies (can be ordered through an office supply company)
Large White Craft Paper or Canvas
Magazines, Newspapers, Web Images

*If you do not have any sort of projector you may use a grid process to enlarge an image, see the Handout - Tips and Quotes .

Project Procedure:

  1. In small groups, students look through magazines to find advertisements that address size, either in selling something big or selling something that is reduced—by size, price, or more abstract terms.
  2. Students make a copy of the images onto the acetate and project it using an overhead projector or use a digital image with a digital projector.
  3. Hang up canvas or paper on available walls and position the projected images onto canvas. Adjust the size of the projected image.
  4. In their groups, students take turns tracing the lines and painting the traced image.

Extension: Discuss the formal qualities of scale and proportion as they apply to images, and then as they apply to other areas of work. Use the quotes section of the Tips and Quotes handout as a springboard for discussion.

Assessment and Wrap-up:
Students assess their collaboration by answering the following questions:

  1. In what way was your collaboration successful?
  2. In what way was this collaboration not successful?
  3. Would you like to collaborate on an art project in the future? Explain your answer.

In a class critique, discuss what happened to the objects when they were enlarged. Are they more appealing or less so? Is bigger better for your subject? Why or Why not?

Discuss the method of painting. What was the hardest part of painting on a large scale?

Was individual style evident in the finished piece or did everyone try to paint the same way?


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