Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Abstract vs. Non-Representational Art

7th graders began this lesson by learning the difference between abstract art and non-representational art. I made up a power point that gave examples of both and had a hearty discussion on the differences of each, which ultimately led to a discussion on aesthetics, who likes what kind of art, and finally, what makes something art! Kids love to debate what makes art good/bad/worthy, etc. Personally, I could spend lots of time teaching lessons that center on aesthetics, but the kids usually want to get their hands dirty...

...Anyway, I also focused on one piece of art in particular by the late artist Elizabeth Murray called Painter's Progress (Pictured first here) and we talked about how Murray created paintings using multiple canvases or surfaces that she pieced together. I don't know what she called these pieces but I was calling them 'fractured'. I also said that they were kinetic, in a way, in that her paintings have a kind of movement to them that paintings on traditional canvases do not.

After all of this discussion, the students were given the choice of creating either abstract or non-representational paintings. After they dried, they were to cut them apart and re-assemble them to make a new image. They were given the choice of cutting them apart with some type of logic, or cutting them apart randomly. Some students created two paintings and then reassembled them both together into the one piece of art. Here are some of the creative solutions they came up with!

In addition, I required the students to add oil pastel details to enhance their paintings. They originally painted using dry tempera cakes and I thought the pictures were kind of dull. The oil pastels helped to enhance their original ideas.

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