art masterpiece: kandinsky

Improvisation 35 by Wassily Kandinsky, 1914

Last year I became an Art Masterpiece guide at my son's school. Art Masterpiece is an art appreciation program offered to elementary students by parent volunteers. Basically, art history for kids ... awesome! The goal is to help students look, think and talk about great works of art. As a guide, I lead 20 minute discussions about assigned prints of famous paintings once every two weeks.

Friday was my first day in Ethan's 1st grade class .We discussed Kandinsky! What a great artist to start with. We had such a good time looking at the artwork and expressing our thoughts and feelings. I told them a little about the artist but, mostly I ask open ended questions and let the kids speak. 

Improvisation 35 by Wassily Kandinsky

About the Artist
Wassily Kandinsky was a Russian painter. He was fascinated and excited by color as a child. He is the first artist to create art that doesn’t look like real life.

What feeling do you get when you look at it?  Happy and weird where the two biggest responses. I think they felt a bit weird seeing something that didn't appear to be anything … there is no right answer and it is different for everyone.

The name of the artwork is Improvisation 35, what does the word “improvise” mean? To create something without thinking about it, spontaneous. This idea baffled some kids. Most thought it would be fun to create art like this but, a couple thought it would be hard to create art without thinking about it first.

What do we call art that doesn’t look like real life? Abstract.  

What do you see in this painting?  They kids really had fun with this one.  They saw fish, dragons, clouds, storms and the list went on.  We turned the artwork in all directions to see how it looked upside down and sideways.  They loved giving their input and seeing it from different angles.

Then I held up these words and we talked a bit about each one ...

Abstract - Art that does not look like real life.  Kandinsky was the first abstract painter.

Color - Kandinsky used color to describe what he was feeling and to make his viewers feel emotion. He has said "Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with its many chords. The artist is the hand that, by touching this or that key, sets the soul vibrating automatically." 

Music - Kandinsky was a musician, he played cello and piano. He was trying to create the same effect on a viewer of his paintings as a beautiful piece of music has on a listener. He has said "I applied streaks and blobs of colors onto the canvas with a palette knife, and I made them sing with all the intensity I could ..."

What do you think Kandinsky's painting is about? Color, music and feelings.

Because I think this program is so cool, I enjoy learning about artists and their work and am amazed by the kids insight and what they express I'll be sharing my experience with you all, my lovely readers.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


Kristin Dudish said...

What a fabulous program to be a part of!
(I think your tree of life belly bump painting is wonderful)

carolyn said...

I also was a teacher in this program for my kids when they were in kindergarten! (wow...that was ten years ago now!) But it was a wonderful program and a wonderful experience.

I also teach after school drawing classes now through our community ed program to k-6 kids. Fun too!