In reading about unit design I've come across four basic foundations on which a unit should be designed; leaving the artwork and artists to fit within the framework.
This foundation focuses on interpreting the meaning of artworks and evaluating their qualities. Description, analysis, interpretation and judgment are this skills being taught in this part of the unit. It should raise questions like: What do you see? What is the artwork about? What tells you that? Art criticism, though different from art history, often lends itself to be intermingled with points about context.
Differing from art criticism, art history is concerned with placing artworks within the context of other artworks and art movements. Art history cares about how and why art changes. Questions like: Who made a given artwork and where it originated? Why art changes and why it is what it is. This foundation along with art criticism is crucial for deepening student's understanding of art.
Preparatory instruction from art criticism and art history ready students to engage in art making as an inquiry process. Developing purposeful inquiry in a project engages students in art making as a means of exploring the world and their place in it. Art making should further technical skills, design knowledge, and personal expression. It is a means of exploring our world, self and others
Questions related to beliefs about the purpose, value, meaning and nature of art make up the foundation of aesthetics. Aesthetics discussions should encourage philosophical inquiry and dialog., it should get students talking. Marilyn Stewart said, "there is much to be gained by spending some time exploring our own views and those of others about art."
All of these foundations should be supporting a key understanding or enduring idea. In order to implement all of these foundations and create complexity there should be examination of diverse works. This means that focusing on one artist or artwork will not do, we must broaden our exploration in order to broaden the minds of our students.
The book uses it in this context: "...as students interpret and judge different artworks, they should become aware that art has "aboutness" and that the interpretive meaning and evaluation of artworks derives from a range of sources."
Dictionary.com defines "aboutness" as: "the totality of subjects explicitly or implicitly addressed; the property or state of being about something."
Ummm... what? That has no meaning what-so-ever. You can't just make up words to describe what you want to teach students... unless you're teaching Dada, then by all means go ahead.