Kids Cafe Art Lectures: Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinksy was my fifth art lecture for Kids Cafe. As I’ve said in this previous post, Kids Cafe is a program that the library does and partners with a local food bank, St. Mary’s and the USDA. It provides a snack or meal to local area kids who might not get one and adding an enrichment activity. The activity doesn’t have to be fancy, just vaguely educational. I have an undergraduate degree in Art History, so I like to do little art/history lectures and then a craft/activity afterwards. It can be quite challenging at times, trying to squeeze an entire artists life or a time period into 20 or less slides, and 10-15 minutes. I enjoy the challenge though. Most of the time I pick an artist based off the activity, or personal interest. Here is my first post on the Color Wheel and Pop Art, the second on Australian Aboriginal Art, the third on Shapes and Henri Matisse, and the fourth on Dale Chihuly.

Kandinsky was another artist I knew next to nothing about, so I was fascinated to know more. I usually don’t like modern art, but there are exceptions. I prefer Kandinsky’s early work before he went all abstract. I had a lot of fun doing the activity, and it was harder than it would seem to not repeat colors and find colors that you wouldn’t normally use with each other.

Kid’s Café: Wassily Kandinsky – Feb 6

  • 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 painter Wassily Kandinsky (pronounced Va-SEE-lee Kan-din-skee)
  • Today we’re going to learn a little about the artist himself
    • Born in Russia 1866 – died in France 1944
    • Discovered he had the ability of see sounds and hearing colors. According to him, “Color is a power that directly influences the soul…Color is the keyboard…The artist is the hand that plays.”
    • Kandinsky took drawing and music lessons from an early age
    • He became a law professor in Germany and then decided he wanted to be an artist at age 30, after seeing an exhibit on Claude Monet, the French Impressionist painter
      • The Impressionists used color and light to show their subjects rather than painting in fine details.
    • He was also influenced by the Pointillism movment, which use small dots of color to make up the final artwork.
      • Examples of Impressionism and Pointillism
        • Impressionism: Monet – Haystacks at Giverny, in evening sun, 1888
        • Monet - Haystacks at Giverny, the evening sun - 1888
          • Pointillism: Luce – Morning Interior, 1890
          • Maximilien Luce - Morning Interior, 1890
      • Examples of his work during this time period
        • Colorful Life, 1907.
        • Colorful Life, 1907
        • Cemetary and Vicarage in Kochel, 1909
        • Cemetary and Vicarage in Kochel, 1909
      • The Blue Rider, 1903 – was one of the first of his paintings to use emotion to express color rather than going completely from nature
      • The Blue Rider, 1903
      • About 1909 Kandinsky began to think that painting didn’t need a particular subject, but that shapes and colors alone could be art. Over the next several years he would start to paint what would become known as Abstract Art; he became one of the founders of this art movement (aka Abstract Expressionism)
      • Kandinsky felt that he could express feelings and music through line, colors and geometric shapes in his paintings.
        • For example, he thought that yellow had the crisp sound of a brass trumpet and that certain colors placed together could harmonize like chords on a piano.
        • The shapes he was most interested in were the circle, triangle, and the square. He thought the triangle would cause aggressive feelings, the square calm feelings, and the circle spiritual feelings.
        • Example
          • Composition VII, 1913 – Many of his paintings used names as if they were songs or musical works like Composition and Improvisation – this was also so people didn’t read too much into the meaning of the titles. He named the paintings he considered the most accomplished “Composition”. He only named ten of his paintings this way.

Composition VII, 1913

  • Activities: Kandinsky Concentric Circles
    • Supplies: white/black construction paper folded into eighths, crayons/oil pastels – could also use rough cut paper circles in many different colors [I ended up folding a regular piece of white paper into fourths and using crayons to make the circles]
    • We will create our own versions of Kandinsky Concentric Circles – My version below

My Kandinsky Circles


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