Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Art Appreciation for Kids
My kids really enjoy watching shows about art. Mostly they watch shows about kids making their own art ("Artzooka" being one of their favorites), but every now and then I'll notice their attention being grabbed by a painting on "Antiques Roadshow" or a sculpture in some garden on "Rick Steves' Europe". Kids are perfectly capable of enjoying - and understanding - classical art, a lot more so than I sometimes give them credit for. Just this afternoon, my daughter was painting with fingerpaints, forming a flower from a series of dots, and she announced to me, "Mama, I'm doing pointillism!" and then when my husband asked her what she knew about pointillism, she informed him that's how the artist Seurat painted. She's four, and she knows who Seurat is and the style he painted in. My kids are definitely ripe for some art appreciation.
So here are a few famous works of art that I think most young children can appreciate and understand.
The Dance Class (Edgar Degas, 1874)
The Gulf Stream (Winslow Homer, 1899)
A Young Hare (Albrecht Durer, 1502)
David (Michelangelo, 1504)
Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Gray and Blue (Piet Mondrian, 1921)
Starry Night (Vincent Van Gogh, 1889)
The rich blues and golds, the swirling movement, the dominance of the sky over the diminutive town, the stylized glow of the moon and stars are all intriguing to the young eye. Children can easily see the contrast of the simple, realistic, geometric lines of the buildings with the fantastical dreaminess of the sky. For slightly older children, this painting can also spark a discussion of van Vogh's mental illness and depressive episodes, and how they affected his art. Even younger children can understand how an artist's mood and outlook had an impact on both the subjects and the style of his or her art.
Red Canna (Georgia O'Keeffe, 1924)
Guernica (Pablo Picasso, 1937)
The Persistence of Memory (Salvador Dali, 1937)
Christina's World (Andrew Wyeth, 1948)
These are only ten of the dozens, even hundreds of works of art that can be used to introduce children to the world of wonder and beauty that is art through the ages. What favorites would you choose to examine with a budding young artist or art appreciator?