An Art History Game
AKA Ten Different Artists, Ten Different Styles
This is a lesson in Art History about style & art.
We will look at the work of ten different artists with ten completely different styles.
This lesson works well for upper elementary to high school
paper (art journal, 10 index cards, OR copy paper divided into ten sections)
Style & Art PDF (below)
*optional. Stickers with artists names printed on them for part 2.
I use Avery 8167 labels
Depending on class dynamics I might start class by telling students that today we will be taking a test. This gets their attention because we hardly ever have a test in art class!
Everything we discuss in the next 15 minutes will be on the test.
This gives students a heads up that this lecture will not be too long. I spend a few minutes talking about each artist.
Today we will look at the artwork of ten different artists with ten different styles of creating art. Let’s discover how they create, what style they work in, what inspires them to create art the way they do?
What is Style?
Style is an artist’s personal way of creating art.
Works of art by different artists may have certain features in common.
Such works are said to have group style. Some examples of group are:
Abstract Expressionism, Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism, Impressionism, Pop Art, Post Impressionism, and Surrealism.
Group styles are commonly called, “Schools of Art.” Sometimes an artist does not fit into a certain school because that style is so unique, and sometimes an artist’s work is so varied that it is in more than one school.
Without further delay let me introduce
Ten Different Artists with Ten Different Styles…in no particular order
Umberto Bocioni, Keith Haring, William De Kooning, Jean Dubuffet, Henry Moore, Joan Miro, Amedo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Henri De Toulouse-lautrec, and Vincent van Gogh.
*The idea for this lesson comes from the book, Art Starters by, Ande Cook, 1996. The book is out of print but occasionally a used copy goes on sale at an economical price. I recommend this book it has much inspiring content based ideas to build off of. The book has a worksheet (that I changed slightly) with the instructions to match the style with the artist. I loved the idea of turning Style & Art into a game. This is how I teach it...
This is what the project looks like when you are an “art on a cart” art teacher. I have a mat board for each of the ten artists. The boards have the artists name and a few examples of their artwork. I walk around the room as I introduce each artist and stand next to the mat board with the artists name. I spend a few minutes talking about each artist and mention the "school of art" they belong too. My speech includes many questions for students to think about and answer. The presentation goes something like this...
Italian Futurist Painter and Sculptor
The Futurism movement started in Italy, (1909-1914)
What is Futurism? It is a style of art developed by a group of Italian artists celebrating the technological era at the beginning of the 20th century. Artists were largely inspired by machines and motion.
Unique Forms of Continuity in Space
1913 (cast 1931 or 1934)
Do you see any mechanical or machine-like qualities in Boccioni’s artworks?
Let’s look at the sharp edges in his drawings…I recognize the shape of a figure… but the movement looks mechanical.
Do his sculptures look like robots? Why do you think that?
Am I seeing visual movement with the repetition of shape. Let’s look at his drawings…Does it look like the figure is moving? The drawing around the figure is blurry; could that suggest the figure is moving?
The edges of this figure look sharp and mechanical the shapes do not look organic. What do you think?
Do you think his art is in response to the technical era? Why do you think that?
Futurism was founded in 1909 by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti.
French Pop Artist
He is considered one of the first pop art artists.
Best known for his development of the “Art Brut”(also known as raw art) movement. Art Brut captures expression found in a child-like energy. Dubuffet insisted that his artwork questioned the notion of beauty and he challenged the world to see art in a new way.
Jean Dubuffet in his studio. Sculpture in NYC, "Welcome Parade." Portrait drawing in the Guggenheim, NYC
We are looking at his abstraction series. I see Interlocking organic shapes. The shapes fit together like puzzle pieces. His work has variety and rhythm. Notice the limited selection of color: blue, red, black, and white. Some sections are filled with hatching lines in the same color scheme.
Let’s listen to some of the music that he wrote http://www.ubu.com/sound/dubuffet.html
Performed by Jean Dubuffet in 1961. What do you think? Does it have similar abstract qualities as his artwork? Do you hear a variety of rhythms?
I ask my students…
If I was going to draw something in the style of Dubuffet...I would first examine the object I was getting ready to draw and divide it up into organic shapes that interlocked. Some of my shapes might have stripes drawn inside of them (instead of color). I would add color, but I would use the same limited color scheme.
How would you draw a simple object in the style of Dubuffet so that I could recognize it as a Dubuffet?
Keith Haring was a popular artist in NYC in the 1980’s
His work started on the streets. Inspired by graffiti artists he began drawing in NY’s subway stations. Filling empty subway posters with chalk drawings. His aim was to make art accessible to everyone and these works allowed him to interact with a diverse audience. Haring had a lot of famous friends--artists, musicians, and fashion designers. He would often collaborate with them. A lot of his artwork had social and political messages. His artwork brought fun and color to the community.
Keith Haring, "Retrospect," 1989
I love all the colors of Keith Haring’s artwork. The people in his artwork are simplified. They are silhouettes filled with arbitrary color. Look at all the movement he creates with the black lines around the simplified shapes of figures and animals. His work has a comic book style.
Keith Haring, "Dogs" 1989
I can almost hear those dogs barking, can you?
How does Haring make the dogs look like they are barking?
What do you notice about Keith Haring’s artwork?
Do the figures look as if they are moving? Why do you say that?
How does he create the feeling of movement in his artwork?
Spanish Surrealist Painter and Sculptor
Welcome to the world of imaginary creatures that seem to dance before our eyes!
Europe, 1924 to 1950's Surrealism is a movement in art that tries to show what takes place in dreams and in the subconscious mind. It is characterized by unexpected arrangements and distortions of images.
Joan Miró, "The Sun" 1949 "Frustrated Cat," and. "Women, Moon, Birds"
Joan Miró (1893-1983) Spanish painter and sculptor. He was born in Barcelona. Miró was known for his use of simple shapes and bright colors. His art is often described as being “dream-like” and “playful”. Miró did not like the conventional painting methods. He liked to create the unexpected in his artwork.
Let’s examine some of his imaginary creatures.
Are they unexpected?
Are they playful?
Do you see shapes around his creatures?
Look at the circles that are connected to more circles… It is kind of like a game of connect-the-dots. Could the dots be constellations?
Sometimes I see a crescent moon in his paintings and that makes me think of the night sky.
He often repeats symbols around his creatures, I see a star and asterisk, and I see eyes.
Some of these creatures have hair growing in sets of threes.
Look at the colors he uses…I see a lot of red, yellow, blue, black and green.
If you were going to draw something in the style of Miro how would you do it?
How would I know you drew a Miro?
What would you include in your drawing to make it look like a Miro?
Willem de Kooning
Dutch-born American Abstract Expressionist Painter
Willem de Kooning, "Woman II," 1952, MOMA, NYC. Abstract painting by de Kooning
Much of de Kooning’s artwork is abstract. His artwork does not attempt to represent place or things. He uses expressive lines and shape. I can see a lot of exciting energy in his brushstrokes and my eyes move around the canvas.
Some of his paintings are figurative. If I look closely I can see the shapes of a figure. The figures are not exact but they seem to emerge from out of a scribble of energy.
When I think of a deKooning... I think of scribbles. I think of a picture that a two-year-old drew or drew with their eyes shut. Have you ever tried drawing with your eyes closed?
If you were going to draw in the style of deKooning how would you do it?
Would you show many precise details OR close your eyes and create?
British Abstract Sculptor
Henry Moore, "Reclining Figure" 1957, and "Recumbent Figure" 1938. Tate Museum, London.
Most of Henry Moore’s sculptures are inspired from the human form. The shapes are rounded and look organic. If you look closely you will see a figure in a simplified form. I see a head, I see a body, I see legs…. Do you see figures too?
One thing I notice is holes in the sculptures. Do you see holes too?
Where do you see a hole?
I’m thinking of Swiss cheese. Has anyone seen all of the holes in Swiss cheese?
Why would Henry Moore put holes in his sculptures?
Maybe he was trying to connect the space from one side of the sculpture to the other. I have read that the holes make the sculptures look like the object grew out of the absent center. I think the holes help to connect the viewer with the negative and positive space around the sculpture? What do you think?
Here is a quote from the artist…
“If a work of sculpture has its own life and form, it will be alive and expansive, seeming larger than the stone or wood from which it is carved. It should always give the impression, whether carved or modeled, of having grown organically, created from pressure from within. “
Henry Moore, 1958
If I asked you to draw something in the style of Henry Moore, how would you do it?
What elements would you include in your drawing?
Would your drawing be somewhat abstract?
Might it have holes in it?
Italian Expressionist Painter and Sculptor
Oh wow, look closely at the art of Modigliani…What do you notice? Something is strange do you see what it is?
He never paints eyes…either he blacks them out or whites them out.
Sometimes he paints eyes…but not often.
Why did he not paint the eyes?
This is a quote from Modigliani:
“When I know your soul, I will paint your eyes.”
What do you think he meant by that?
Modigliani, "Madame Hanka Zborowska", "Portrait of a Student," "Woman with a fan," 1919
This is the artwork that I would expect to find in a haunted house.
Have you ever seen one of those paintings with the moving eyes?!
Did anyone notice that all the people in his paintings have elongated necks? Wow, those are long necks! I think it might be scary to see one of his models stand up.
So, when I think of Modigliani’s style...I think of no eyes and long necks!
Can you remember that?
Spanish Cubist Painter and Sculptor
It is difficult to think of one particular style when I think of Picasso. He was an artist who kept reinventing his style. He liked to find different ways to create.
Let’s hear what Picasso had to say about style and art…
Picasso described himself as "a painter without style," explaining:
"Style is often something which locks the painter into the same vision, the same technique, the same formula during years and years, sometimes during one's whole lifetime."
What does he mean by that?
For this assignment I have labeled him a cubist painter only because he and another artist that he shared a studio with, George Braque, invented this style of creating art…Cubism
A style of Art, developed in the early 1900s, in which objects are represented by cubes and other geometric forms instead of realistic details. Cubism is also known as a flattened perspective.
Look at his still life paintings. You are able to view multiple sides of an object at the same time. Usually in a still life painting you can only see one or two angles of an object. This type of perspective is called a flattened perspective because if a car drove over a still life and flattened it you would be able to see many sides of an object at the same time since all the sides have been flattened.
Picasso, Cubist Portrait, "harlequin portrait" and "Still life with flowers and lemons"
What do you think of Cubism?
Do you like Picasso's Cubist portraits?
It looks like he has divided up the face into so many geometric shapes.
How would you compare the shapes in Dubuffet’s artwork to the shapes in Picasso’s cubism artwork?
The shapes in Picasso’s artwork are more geometric. He used shapes that have names (triangles, squares rectangles). I see a lot of organic interlocking puzzle piece shapes in Dubuffet’s artwork. Even though both artists use a lot of shapes in their artwork they are different kinds of shapes! I want to point that out because on my test you need to carefully notice the difference!!
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
French Post-Impressionist Painter and Printmaker
Out of all of the artist’s I have introduced you to today, Henri’s artwork is probably the most realistic. Would you agree?
Let me tell you about Henri. He liked to paint genre scenes, these are scenes of "everyday life." He lived in Paris. He often went to the Moulon Rougue, a very famous night club in Paris, and he would paint the dancers, the musicians, and the people that he saw in the club.
France, 1880's to 1900
A style of art developed by a group of French artists at the end of the 1800’s, which departed from Impressionism in its free use of color, form, design, and expression.
Famous Post-Impressionists are
Ok so maybe Toulouse-Lautrec played with color a little bit--that’s what post impressionist’s did or maybe there is a green light shining on that woman’s face?
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, "At the Moulin Rouge," 1894 and 1895
Vincent van Gogh
Dutch Post-Impressionist Painter
You have heard of Vincent van Gogh!?
He painted some of the most iconic paintings.
Another Post-Impressionist painter!
Van Gogh was famous for texture! He painted with many, thick layers of paint. If you see a van Gogh painting in a museum you will notice his application of paint.
It’s hard to believe that Van Gogh was never famous as a painter during his lifetime and constantly struggled with poverty. He sold only one painting while he was alive!
van Gogh, "Starry Night," 1889. "Sunflowers," 1889, ink portrait in 1888.
I love van Gogh’s ink drawings. He would sometimes draw a scene in ink as a study before he painted it. See his sketch for the Starry Night painting (above). Look at all that exciting visual textures in his ink drawings... the dots, dashes, small lines show movement in the sky.
In his paintings the texture is in the brush strokes.
When I think of van Gogh I think of texture!
How would you draw something in the style of van Gogh?
Would you include lots of lines, dots, and dashes in your drawing?
Look around the art room. Look at the ten different artist and notice how their styles are very different.
Let’s quickly summarize…Now I walk around the room spending maybe 10 seconds at each display board. Depending on the time I sometimes ask students to quickly talk about the style they see. Organic or geometric shapes? What color scheme? Abstract or Realistic?
When I think of...
Style & Art
(Sometimes I call it a game, sometimes I call it a test, I have even called it a quiz)
I hope you were paying attention?!
Don’t be nervous… I don’t like tests either but this one is going to be fun : )
(I pass out the papers while talking…)
Let me tell you about this test. I have drawn a cat in the style of ten different artists that we just discussed. Your job is to match the cat with the artist’s style. If these artists were here drawing cats how might -they- draw a cat?
I leave the boards up around the classroom as the students are taking the test. I might say, "Oh the boards, I forgot to collect them... I think I will leave them up! Is that ok with you?" I don’t think it’s cheating…there is a lot of information to take in so I want my students to be able to refer to the artwork as needed
It’s so quiet in the classroom during this test.
PDF available to print
What we do next is go over the answers. I call on students one at a time and ask what number is the Picasso cat? I also want to hear why they made that choice. It’s exciting to hear students talk about the characteristics of an artist’s style. When we are finished discussing answers I ask them to grade themselves, 10 points a cat I tell them! We may also discuss what cat they got wrong and why they selected the artist they did. Then I announce there is a part two. Part one usually takes one (45 minute) class period. I usually have just enough time to explain what part two is about
PART 2, Style & Art
Next art class you will try drawing in the styles of these ten different artists. I want you to think of something simple to draw but it can’t be a cat because I just drew one. You will draw that object ten times so think of something simple to draw for next week.
Students select a simple object to draw. They draw that object ten times in ten different styles.
Either I pass out ten index cards or I have students divide their paper into ten sections. Some classes have art journals and this is a perfect exercise to do in an art journal. I ask the students not to write the name of the artist next to their drawing because now it’s their turn to test me! Students like the idea of testing the teacher! I have printed stickers with the artist names on them. When students are finished with a few drawings or all ten I let them test me. I put the sticker of the artists name by their drawings after I guess the style correctly.
A shrimp drawn in ten different styles, high school.
A yellow and a red apple drawn in ten different styles, 5th grade
A heart drawn in ten different styles. High school
A penguin drawn in ten different styles, 6th grade
A pair of glasses and butterflies drawn in ten different styles, 5th grade
The sun and a person, drawn in ten different styles. 4th grade
Man with beard, drawn in ten different styles, 5th grade
Eye drawn in ten different styles, 6th grade
When an artist draws from the work of another artist it may be to learn a style – to make shapes and lines the way another artist does.
My favorite way to expose my students to art history is a hands-on approach. It is important to know about history. In art, one can learn a lot from the masters and learn a lot about oneself from trying out the styles of famous artists; this clearly helps in the development of finding one’s own style.
Teaching students about various styles of art and art movements helps students understand that there are many ways to create art, and they are all valued.
Aesthetic conversations about art and artists help students realize that their original ideas have value and that there are many ways to be artists besides drawing skills. I don’t expect all of my students to become working artists one day, but I want all of my students to leave my class with an appreciation for art and creativity.
"Create your own visual style... Let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others."
I recently saw John Atkinson’s Schools of Fish and his artwork inspired me to write this blog post about how I teach style &art
Schools of Fish by John Atkinson