Art History:   Grade 1 Lesson 6

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Art Periods

CHILDREN IN ART - Artists learn from Children



  1. The Juggler, 1943 Marc Chagall, Russian (1877-1985), , Reproduction print.
    a)  Children's art     -  WASH DAY, Philippines, age 8
    b)  Children's art     -  Yellow Elephant
    c)  Children's art     -  Smiling Sun
    d)  Children's art     -  Space scene
    bulletThe son of a poor Jewish fish merchant, Chagall was born in a small city in Russia . Life in the Jewish ghetto was a major influence on him. Distressed by the growing political unrest in Europe, Chagall moved tot he United States in 1941. He was interested in all media - illustrating books, designing stained glass windows, making ceramics, etchings and even huge murals like the one at the Opera House at Lincoln Center in New York City.

    "Our whole inner world is reality," he said. "Perhaps even more real than the apparent world." It is this thinking which brings a child-like quality to his work.

    His dream world springs from Jewish and Russian folk tales, from the Bible and the customs of his native Russian town (Vitebsk, Belarus).

    Love, death and suffering were his reccuring themes. The dream and the reality become one; the miracle becomes truth and the world becomes a happy place.

    In the Juggler we seem to be partly at a circus and partly in a small Russian village. There is music from a fiddler and a girl dancing high on a trapeze. A horse becomes a woman and the juggler, with his x-rayed high-kicking legs, becomes a bird.

    We are not at all sure what this means, but it is unexpected and gay. Chagall knew how to use colour to let us enjoy his fantasy.

    Qualities which Chagall's painting shares with small children's work:
       1. His bright colours.
       2. His lack of perspective.
       3. He tells a story which is a mix of fantasy and reality.

    "If ever a man painted for himself alone, Chagall does. His typical painting is a private reveri that he makes no effort to explain, yet thousands of reproductions of his work are sold around the world. It may be that the world being to much with us these days we are especially glad to be taken out of it for a while and that artists, for the same reason, find satisfaction in leaving this world for excusrsions into worlds of their own invention."

    Canady, John, What is Art?, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1980 pp.337 and 338.

    Chagall has captured many ideas both in reality and from hisinner self and expressed them on one canvas. Children often draw from their thoughts and ideas and jumble them on one canvas too. Who says that art has to be any other way?

    Many of you have picked up a box of crayons or a set of flair pens and created a picture showing a mixture of many images. Sometimes you might draw a picture of what is happening, and mix it with what has happened and what would be fun if it did happen. You like to use many shapes and colours when you draw or paint. Sometimes you might like to explain your pictures to people and sometimes you just paint or draw pictures for yourself.

  2. Mural, Jackson Pollock, American  (1912-1956) William S. Rubin Collection, New York Reproduction print.
    a)  Children's art     -  Green pastel painting
    b)  Children's art     -  Jungle - scratch board
    Jackson Pollock once said, "It seems to me that the modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or of any past culture. Every age finds its own technique." But, like other great innovators in art, Pollock absorbed the inventions of earlier artists and then made his own unique contributions.

    He invented the 'drip technique' using a stick dipped in auto paint to 'pour' a picture onto a huge canvas spread on the floor. It created a picture with living dynamic lines. He developed spacescapes - space without beginning or end, with no up or down, full of energy. he painted rhythmns, perhaps of the tides or of our hearts. He painted our fears and our joys. He painted the new regions discovered in our time - man's unconscious and the world of the atom and of space.

    If you spread a paper on the floor and give a very small child a paint brush and paint, he will often unconsciously paint in a similar manner. In the sensual enjoyment of the paint, the child's full body is used to paint a web of rhythmic lines - or paint forms on top of paint forms. Often the edges of the paper are ignored. There are no ups or downs; the child moves around the paper. Just as Pollock sometimes cuts up the huge canvas, so the child's painting could be cut.

    The child does not think about his work, but Pollock had to carefully think and plan in order to acheive what looks like free movement. Notice the thin black and white lines - the black thickens only where Pollock wanted a strong beat or emphasis. Find repeating lines. Notice the red and yellow - carefully placed to draw the eye into the picture.

    Children like the feeling of creating and watching paint drip or splash. Here is a work made by a child who was fascinated with the marks made by a crayon used on its side. This child sat for a long time making one picture after another using the same method. There is a rhythm to the marks but it is not planned as Pollock's work was. It is more flowing and free. The crayon work even seems like it was done in motion, without removing the crayon from the paper.

    Notice how Pollock dripped paint right off the edge of the canvas. Children sometimes do that with their paint as well.

  3. Lyric (Man on a Horse), Wassily Kandinsky, Russian (1866-1944), The Boymens Museum, Rotterdam, reproduction print.

    Kandinsky was very interested in folklore and legends which express essential spiritual truths about man. The symbol of the horeseman may be from the Bible's apocalypse. Besides the symbol, the colors too were assigned specific religious and emotional meaning.

    His art rejects the material universe, thus he thought that art should not be a mere representation of nature. Instead his art aspired to some heavenly or utopian existence elsewhere. he wanted to reproduce some inner emotion.

    Through the use of the forms - the horseman etc. (He later used Pure form introducing Abstract art.), the bright colors and the movement of the lines, Kandinsky acheived what small children unconsciously paint.

    Kandinsky has added many bright colors and shapes to his painting, but you really can feel the rush of the horse as you gaze at his work.

        a) Children's art - Skater. This is a drawing done by a small child. Do you see the lines that give you a feeling of motion? It is the figure skating on the ice. Can you hear the blades of the skates scraping the ice? This picture is made with strong lines to show motion just as Kandinsky has shown us motion in his painting.

        b) Children's art - Children Playing Ball.


  4. Senecio, Head of a Man, 1922, Paul Klee, Swiss (1879-1940), clay, Kuntsmuseum, Basel Reproduction print.

    Paul Klee translated into visual images the phantoms and strange visions that appear in our dreams and nightmares. The wild energies of our unconscious were his subjects and deserved to be painted as well as portraits or still lifes.

    His work resembled that of children because he admired their spontaneity. Klee was fascinated by what man might be rather than what he is. He peopled his paintings with whimsical creatures and spirits of the earth, sea and air. As with children, the process of becoming was more important to him than the final form of things. But he always insisted that we dream our own fairytales into existence, that his paintings were only the start of a journey into ourselves where there are wonders beyond our wildest imaginings.

    Senecio is painted with bright, warm, happy colors. Note: the pink cheeks and geometric divisions of his face - bright red eyes - hint of a mouth. Are the black rectangles at the bottom of the nose shadows?

    a)  Children's art    Geometric form with Face
    b)  Children's art     Figure on lined paper
    Children often use shapes to draw or paint figures too. Here are two crayon drawings of figures made from shapes. Note triangles, rectangles and circles. Also the colors are warm and bright. There are pink cheeks, round blue eyes and hats to point out.

    These pictures by children are very simple crayon drawings and much like things you might draw. Whenever you sit down and begin working, remember that older people love your ability to create and that some artists work their whole lives to paint and draw and express themselves as simply as you do.

  5. The Children of Sylvanus and Rebecca Bourne c.1803, Carolus Delin, Flemish (c.1780-1820), Heritage Plantation of Sandwich Collection, reproduction print.
    Delin was probably a portrait painter who originally worked at the end of the 18th century in Holland. In America he is best known for his portraits of sea captains done between 1783 and 1810. Sylvanus Bourne was probably the American representative at the Hague at the time that this portrait of his sons was painted. Do you think the boy artist was imitating the artist who was painting his portrait? Who actually painted the small picture of the blond brother? Did Delin paint it as he saw the picture or as he imagined it should be?

    a)  Children's art     -  Smiling Family


    bulletTape: selections of music



 Woodrow Wilson stated, "Originality is simply a fresh pair of eyes."In their attempt to be original, many modern artists have looked to the fresh eyes of children. They have tried to see and paint like children in order to find what is most essential in themselves.

In their efforts to rid themselves of the bourgeois art which they regarded as a symptom of a crumbling cultue, a group of men began a movement they called DADA. The name DADA is a child's word for hobbyhorse and it was picked because it was a child's first sound and expressed the primitiveness, the beginning at zero, the new in their art. DADA was not an art movement, but its state of mind has influenced much of modern art.

Although from different countries and different art movements, the artists represented in these prints were exploring ancient myths and symbols. There is a suspension of the conscious mind to release subconscious images. These images are expressions of basic human emotions and the process of expressing is important to the individual artist.

We are going to look at some art done by people who have expressed themselves in a child-like manner and see some of the similarities between their work and the art of children, unconscious, uninhibited and original.


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