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"Artzy" Art during World War II

Introduction Unit Objectives
Unit-At-A-Glance/Lesson Plans Artzybasheff Bibliography
Teacher Resources Supplemental Activities
World War II WebQuests Literary Terms and Vocabulary
Student Chatroom Student Portfolios
Home University of North Texas
TEKS/TAKS Standards Online Tutorials
WWII Letters links Initial Artzybasheff images


Lesson #5

Lesson 5 station 2 images

Lesson 5 station 3 images

Lesson 5 station 4 images

Lesson 5 station 5 images

Lesson 5 station information sheet

Lesson 5 Student Scavenger Hunt

Anthropomorphic Images and Boris Artzybasheff




In this lesson students have an opportunity to learn more about the artist Boris Artzybasheff and his artwork through an informative scavenger hunt.  Students will also have an opportunity to produce a piece of anthropomorphic art.


Subject:           Fine Arts, Social Sciences        


Duration:        100 min. (aprox.)


Grade Levels:            8-12





TX-113.24.a.4.b.8.32.B TSIET... use a decision-making process to identify a situation

that requires a decision, gather information, identify options, predict consequences, and take action to implement a decision.

TX-113.32.c.26.A       TSIET... use a problem-solving process to identify a problem, gather information, list and consider options, consider advantages and disadvantages, choose and implement a solution, and evaluate the effectiveness of the solution.

TX-113.36.c.10.B       TSIET... identify elements of social learning theory in modern advertising.

TX-113.37.c.8.C         TSIET... evaluate different communication techniques, including propaganda and advertising, used to influence perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors of persons and groups.

TX-117.38.b.2             By analyzing artistic styles and historical periods students develop respect for the traditions and contributions of diverse cultures. Students respond to and analyze artworks, thus contributing to the development of lifelong skills of making informed judgments and evaluations.

TX-117.56.c.4             The student demonstrates an understanding of cultural, historical, and artistic diversity.












·        The University of North Texas Library.  They supplied the images of Artzybasheff’s World War II advertisement posters.




This is a great web site containing information about Boris Artzybasheff and images included in this lesson.





This is another great web site containing information about Boris Artzybasheff and images included in this lesson.





This is the web site for the Eisner Museum and it contains an on-line exhibit of some of Boris Artzybasheff’s work.




This site contains some information about the artist and some pictures of his artwork.





·        Anthropomorphic

Attribution of human motivation, characteristics, or behavior to inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena.  {Source:  The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.  Fourth Edition.  Houghton Miffin Company.  2000 – provided by}


·        Advertisement

A notice, such as a poster or a paid announcement in the print, broadcast, or electronic media, designed to attract public attention or patronage.

{Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.  Houghton Mifflin Company. 2000 – provided by}





This unit of instruction is engineered to teach the students that there is a give and take relationship between art, and the culture and time period in which it was created.  This lesson reinforces that idea by allowing the student an opportunity to become more familiar the artist Boris Artzybasheff and his artwork. Hopefully students will be able to recognize information presented in previous lessons in Artzybasheff’s anthropomorphic images.





·        The student will learn more about the artist Boris Artzybasheff through an informative scavenger hunt.

·        The student will learn more about the art of Boris Artzybasheff through an informative scavenger hunt.

·        The student will gain a deeper understanding of the term anthropomorphic through an informative scavenger hunt.

·        The learner will demonstrate an understanding of the term anthropomorphic by producing a piece of anthropomorphic artwork.





Bring out the Boris Artzybasheff image that we looked at initially in the first lesson. Ask the students if they remember some of the things they have discussed about this piece of artwork.  Review all of the previous lessons with the students.

In the first lesson the students did not know anything about the work of art or the artist and they were asked to really look deeply at the image and for some hypotheses. 

The second lesson of this unit discussed the many perspectives of World War II.  In that lesson students were asked to revisit the Atzybasheff image and talk about what perspectives were applicable to that piece of artwork. 

In the third lesson students learned about metaphor.  In that lesson students were asked to revisit the Artzybasheff image and look for possible metaphors based on their knowledge of literary metaphor and World War II.

In the fourth lesson students learned about cartooning and anthropomorphic images related to World War II.

Review with the students all the information they have gathered about the artwork of Artzybasheff.  Remind the students that they really have not learned much about Artzybasheff himself or the other works of art he had created. 

Explain to the students that they are going to go on a scavenger hunt of sorts to gather more information about the artist Boris Artzybasheff and his artwork.




1.      Have your classroom set up with five scavenger hunt stations.  (A packet for each stations, including images, is attached at the end of this lesson.)   The students should be divided into five groups and each group will eventually rotate around to each station.  As the student rotate to each station they will need to collect information on their ‘student scavenger hunt sheet’ (The ‘student scavenger hunt sheet’ is at the end of this lesson.)  Also, as the students rotate play WWII era music and instruct the students to move to the next station clockwise when the music stops.

 Station 1  A General Information Station…

This station should provide the students with basic information about Artzybasheff like where he was from and when he lived.  What did he do for a living?  Included is a picture of the artist.  The students will use the computer and provided web sites to compile this data.


Station 2  Other advertisements from Time magazine during WW II.

This station should contain three to four images that meet the above criteria.  The ‘student scavenger hunt sheet’ asks the student to compare and contrast these images with the Artzybasheff image from the first lesson.


Station 3  Other Artzybasheff advertisement, post World War II.

This station includes images from Artzybasheff advertisements after World War II and asks students to compare and contrast them to his during WWII advertisements.  What is similar?  What is different?


Station 4  Time Magazine Covers

This station includes copies of a few of his magazine covers.  Students are asked to look at these to see if they have anything in common with the other Artzybasheff images they have seen.  Is there anything totally different about them?


Station 5  Book Illustrations

This station presents information about his book illustrations and examples of the illustrations.  Once again students will be asked to look at these illustration and compare / contrast them with the Artzybasheff images they have seen. 


2.      Have the students reconvene and discuss their findings during the scavenger hunt as a class.  Use the ‘student scavenger hunt sheet’ as a guide for the discussion.  Also during this discussion refer back Artzybasheff image from the first lesson in this unit and the brainstorming sheet.  Work with the students to see if they need to add any or remove any information.


3.      The students are now going to going to produce their own piece of anthropomorphic art.  The students are to first pick a machine or piece of machinery to start with.  This can be done several ways.  The teacher can write names of machines or machinery on pieces of paper and the students pick them out of a hat.  The teacher can provide several pictures of machines or machinery and the students can select an image.  Or the teacher can bring actual pieces of machinery to class.  Examples might be a screw, a wrench, a model car or a spring.  


4.      The students will draw a total of four pictures. 

Picture 1  This is a drawing of the machine or piece of machinery

Picture 2  This is a drawing of the machine or machinery with

characteristics of the human.

Picture 3  This is a drawing of the  human with characteristics of the


Picture 4  This is drawing of the human in a position similar to the shape

of the machine.  The students should be able to imagine the transformation at this point.


This works best if the drawings are NOT done in order!  Picture 1, the machine, should be drawn first.  The second drawing should be Picture 4, the human in a position similar to the shape of the machine.  The students should be able to imagine or visualize how this transformation is going to take place.  Next the students should draw Picture 2 and then Picture 3. The students will then have two anthropomorphic drawings, picture 2 and 3.





A portion of this lesson requires the student to go on an informative scavenger hunt.  The level at which the student performs on the ‘student scavenger hunt sheet’ and contributes to class discussion will indicate the level at which the student thought about the information that was presented. (Refer to the rubric at the end of this lesson.)

Another portion of this lesson required the student to produce an anthropomorphic drawing.  The level at which the student met the requirements of the assignment indicates the student’s understanding of the term

anthropomorphic.  (Refer to the rubric at the end of this unit.)





·        A scavenger hunt packet of each of the scavenger hunt stations.  (A copy of each of these, including images, is at the end of this lesson.)

·        Each student should get a copy of the ‘student scavenger hunt sheet.  (A copy of this is at the end o the lesson.)

·        Each student will need 4 sheet of white drawing paper, either 12in. x 18in. each or 6in. x 9in. each.

·        Colored pencils or any other medium if the teacher wishes for the students to add color to the drawings.




            This lesson requires some background knowledge about Boris Artzybasheff.  He was born in Russia and immigrated at the age of 23 in 1922.  Unable to speak English he came to New York and worked in an engraving shop on ornamental borders.  He then became a merchant seaman and saved his earnings to then set up shop as a professional artist and designer.  During World War II he served as an expert advisor to the U.S. Department of State, Psychological Welfare branch.

During his career he designed over 200 covers for Time magazine, illustrated over 50 books most of which he illustrated and drew an amazing number of illustrations for advertisements for mechanical goods.

            Artzybasheff had a wide range of artistic abilities.  He could draw the most realistic of images to images that are very cartoon like.  Most of his images are anthropomorphic.   These anthropomorphic images have such character and whit about them. 

            Arzybasheff is best known for his magazine covers but his other images are gaining in popularity.  Boris Artzybasheff died in 1965.




































Lesson by Sandra S. Newton