Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Kids Cafe Art Lectures: Shapes and Henri Matisse

So last week was another crazy week at work, and Summer Reading program starts in about two weeks. We're already registering kids for the program and it looks to be easier to use than last year, so hopefully that will help with a lot of problems later on. The tagline for this year's theme, Superheroes, is pictured above. This will be my 3rd summer reading program I've helped with, and the second at this library. As the ALA says on their fact sheet about summer reading, "Summer reading began in the 1890s as a way to encourage school children, particularly those not needed for farm work, to read during their summer vacation, use the library and develop the habit of reading." Teachers use this time to get their students to read required books before school starts, and sadly I think that has taken a lot of the fun out of reading what you want during the summer. 

On to Kids Cafe. For my third week, we looked at Geometric vs Biomorphic Shapes and then talked about how Henri Matisse created his art and how he primarily used Biomorphic Shapes. I never really knew anything about Matisse before researching him for this lecture, so it was interesting getting to know his works and pick which ones I wanted to use for the discussion. Polinesia, The Sky was my favorite piece. The cut paper illustrations were a lot harder to make than you would think. I did have a parent remember this one a couple months later though, so at least the geometric/biomorphic shapes part stuck in her head. All of the lecture can be found at the source

Kid’s Café: Shapes and Henri Matisse – Jan 20

Introduction: Welcome to Kid’s Café. My name is Miss Rachel and we’re going to learn a little about art. Today we’re going to be talking about Shapes and Henri Matisse.  

 There are two basic kinds of shapes that artists use: Geometric and Biomorphic

Geometric shapes are precise and regular, like squares, rectangles, and triangles. They are often human-made things, like building and machines while biomorphic shapes are found in nature. These shapes may look like leaves, flowers, clouds--things that grow, flow, and move. The term biomorphic means life-form (bio = life and morph = form). Biomorphic shapes are often rounded and irregular, unlike most geometric shapes. 

  • An artist that loved to explore the possibilities of mixing geometric and biomorphic shapes was Henri Matisse. In the last few decades of his artistic career, he developed a new form of art-making: the paper cut-out. Still immersed in the power of color, he devoted himself to cutting colored papers and arranging them in designs. Matisse was drawing with scissors!
Matisse - The Sheaf, 1953

Matisse - Polinesia, The Sky, 1947

 La Betes de la Mer (The Beasts of the Sea), 1950 is a memory of his visit to the South Seas. In this work of art, Matisse first mixed paint to get all the brilliant colors of the ocean. Then he cut this paper into shapes that reminded him of a tropical sea. Lastly, he arranged these biomorphic shapes vertically over rectanglees of yellows, greens, and purples to suggest the watery depths of the undersea world. 

Matisse - The Beasts of the Sea, 1950

·         Compare and Contrast: Geometric vs Biomorphic

  • Piet Mondrian - Tableau No. IV; Lozengge Composition with Red, Gray, Blue, Yellow, and Black, c. 1924-25

        • Geometric?
          • Yes, triangles, a square, and rectangles.
        • From nature/biomorphic?
          • None.
o   Edward Steichen, Le Tournesol (The Sunflower), c. 1920

        • Geometric?
          • The artist used mostly geometric shapes.)
        • From nature/biomorphic?
          • The big green shape—the vase—in the middle of the painting seems more like something found in nature with its rounded edges.  
o   Vincent van Gogh, Roses, 1890

        • Geometric?
          • No hard-edged shapes here.
        • From nature/biomorphic?
          • Yes, it makes sense that a painting of flowers uses biomorphic shapes—things "from life."
o   Henri Matisse, Woman Seated in an Armchair, 1940

      • Point out that this is the same artist as the one that created Beasts of the Sea, however, this one uses paint instead of cut paper.
      • Did he mix kinds of shapes in this painting too?
        • Yes, the artist used shapes from nature and geometric shapes here.
·         Activities: Creating Our Own Cut Paper Collages
o   Supplies: Construction paper (use white and black for backgrounds, and then use blue, red, yellow, orange and green to create collage), scissors, glue sticks

o   Create underwater collages or one of your choosing based off Matisse cut paper examples

Underwater Collage Examples I found on the web: 

Here are my personal examples of Matisse-style collages (my favorite one is the top one): 

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