Art History: Grade 1 Lesson 2

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  CHILDREN IN ART - Children & Music



  1. The Banjo Lesson, 1893, Henry Ossawa Tanner, American  (1859-1937), oil on canvas 49"x39.5", Hampton Institute, VA - Reproduction print.

    "The Banjo Lesson" was among the paintings used in the 1981 UNICEF Christmas card series.

    Think of the mood of the painting. Would the banjo music be peaceful and calm or loud and lively? Notice how the warm colors blend. What might be causing the light and shadows? Why might the artist have painted this picture?

    Henry Ossawa Tanner: The Banjo LessonHenry Ossawa Tanner was the son of Benjamin Tucker Tanner, a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He was born in Pittsburgh, PA and studied both there and in Paris. Henry lived most of his life abroad as he felt that white people in America were not ready to face the acceptance of colored races, especially the Negro race. In Europe he was taken for what he was, a talented artist whose colour did not add to or detract from his talent.

    Henry Tanner worked very hard on his pictures and they were painted very slowly. His pictures are very much alive. His paintings are most attractive to those who seek to know more of the aesthetic and cultural history of the Negro Americans.

    Some of his most memorable achievements are his religious paintings of the Holy Land, heads of men and women in Palestine, and landscapes and other scenes of Morocco.

    Tanner ranks among the first truly distinguished Negro American artists and one of America's first outstanding successes in the salons of Europe.

    bulletSee also:Smithsonian Institute - Tanner Biography
  2. The Three Musicians, 1921, Pablo Picasso, Spanish (1881-1973), Reproduction print.
    Picasso makes us see his three musicians but we don't see any shading or rounded shapes. There are many shapes in this painting and things are not painted as they really are. We can pick many different instruments that the men may be playing if we look carefully at the painting and we could make a very interesting jigsaw puzzle from the shapes. The bright colors and angles and even the musicians themselves help us to hear the music that might be played by this combo. It is probably very lively happy music. Lots of artists have painted with shapes and colors so that we could study and think more carefully about what is going on in the painting. Picasso made more than one painting of "The Three Musicians" and they are all just a little bit different.

    Pablo Picasso was the instigator of or a contributor to nearly every important artistic movement in the 20th century. he was born in Malaga and lived in Barcelona where his remarkable talent was evident at an early age. In 1900 he went to Paris, and was attracted to the subject matter and color of late Impressionism. He painted the squalid but fascinating world of beggars and circus performers, first in predominantly blue tones, then in rose. The broken forms and planes of his 1907 "Desmoiselles d'Avignon" reveal the influence of Negro sculpture which led him, with Brague to Cubism. Before World War I Picasso produced still life collages of everyday objects. the years of the thirties saw nudes flattened into patterns of intense movement. Around this time, Picasso, remembering Spain, painted a famous series of bullfight scenes. in 1937, he finished Guernica, a personal statement on the brutality of war. it refers particularly to the Spanish Civil War but the complex symbolic images transcend time and place. A painter of universal vision, Picasso's work runs the gamut of subject and mood, expressed in varied media with the verve and spontaneity of innate genius.



  3. Music Lesson, 1943, Thomas Hart Benton, American (1889-1975), oil, Collection of Mr.& Mrs. Fred Koch: Wichita, KA. Reproduction print.
    Thomas Hart Benton was born in Missouri and had a strong affection for the Middle West. His people are caricatured and he displays colorful versions of local customs. Do cartoons or caricatures sometimes tell us more about the realities of life than the perfect copying of surfaces? Why do you think Benton included the doll on the floor? Can you think of a folk song this man might be singing?

    As a youth he studied in New York and Paris but abstraction, emerging at the time, did not appeal to his nature. He was more interested in everyday scenes of common, working people and joined the mural projects of the 1920s and 1930s by which the government commissioned murals in our public buildings. Benton was also interested in encouraging the grass roots culture instead of the sophisticated and cosmopolitan. Local traditions were also encouraged by government relief programs. Much folk music of the remote parts of America was also collected at this time.

    bulletSee also Grade 3 Lesson 2 for Louisiana Rice Fields also by Benton


  4. The Dancing Class, 1874, H G Edgar Degas, French (1834-1917) Louvre, Paris, Reproduction print.
    Many young ladies in France were sent to ballet school by their families to help them become more graceful and to help them appreciate the art of telling a story with dance.

    Degas used the color and composition of the picture to give us a feeling of movement and rhythm. Notice how he painted only the leg of the girl on the far right with lots of space on the left. The rhythm is felt because of the bright primary colors carefully spaced. the light airy movement of dance is felt in the costumes and lightness of the windows.

    Edgar Degas was a major figure in 19th century painting, associated with the Impressionist movement, but not strictly a part of it. Degas, from a wealthy family, turned from the study of law to painting, enrolling at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. During the early years of Impressionism Degas was a strong force behind the exhibitions, but he soon disagreed with the theories of the Impressionists. Influenced by Ingres and Manet, Degas did not sacrifice line to color and remained a studio painter, resisting the Impressionists desire to capture outdoor light. His only outdoor scenes were of the racetrack; while his ballet dancers are probably his most famous works, both themes provide studies in movement. Degas concentrated on the portrayal of the human form but traditional ideas of beauty are subordinated to the composition based on the odd vantage points he selected.

    bullet  Links
    bullet Degas - Biography
    bulletOn-line tour at Nat Gall Art - Degas "The Dance Lesson"


  5. Taped Examples of Music 

  6. Flute Player, 1621, Hendrick Terbrugghen, Dutch (1588-1629) oil on canvas 71.5x56cm, Staatliche Museum, Kassel, Switzerland, Reproduction print.
Renaissance Painter

This painting may have been a study for another piece.


Music is all around us and many times we take it for granted and don't really hear it. There are songs and rhythms in nature and man's environment too. We often hear music on the radio, television, tape recordings, CDs etc. We also hear music at concerts and plays as well as in singing familiar songs.

We learn about music from an early age. Children learn songs in school that help them with counting and numbers and the alphabet.

We hear music in the supermarket, airports, bus terminals and doctor's offices. Sometimes when we call a busy place, we are put on hold and hear music while we wait.

Many years ago all these sources of music were not available to people. People have always listened to music for relaxation and enjoyment. Many people also learned how to make music. Lots of artists enjoy painting musical topics. They try to capture the sounds of music in their work. Sometimes they paint musicians and dancers. Often they paint instruments and people. Sometimes these people, particularly if they are children, are having a music lesson.

Children often take music or singing lessons to become a good musician or singer but it also takes lots of practice. Once you are involved with music and learn more about it, you will have lots of pleasure ahead of you.

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