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Art Institute Art Starts

Art Institute Art Starts

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Published by Jessica Bowers
Guide for kids through the Art Institute of Chicago
Guide for kids through the Art Institute of Chicago

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Jessica Bowers on Jan 11, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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“American Gothic”by Grant Wood1930American ArtGallery 263
There isn't just one way to look at a painting. Sometimes we need tolook up close, far away, and even from the side to see what the artistwants us to see. Let's start from far away and see what we can spot.Looks like a sunny day, but I can still see several umbrellas. How manycan you count?
There are at least seven.
The animals seem to be enjoying the weather, too. What kind of animalsdo you see?
(There are three dogs and a monkey. The little yellow spots inthe center are butterflies.)
Everyone seems to be so still. Do you see anything looks like it is mov-ing?
(The little girl in the red dress is skipping and the small dog appears tobe on the lunge, but everyone else looks like they are not even breathing.)
Let's move closer and see what we spot.
(Dots and spots! Seurat placed dots of color next to each other instead of blending them before he painted.From far away the eye blends the colors together to make the picture.)
The artist painted another shape over and over. Can you find it?
(Circles are repeated in thebuttons and broach on the clothing. The glasses are round and the dress has a circle pattern.Even the faces have a oval shape)
Can you find the artist’s name?
(Grant Wood’s signature and the date are signed on thefarmer’s pocket.)
“A Sunday on LaGrande Jatte”by Georges Seurat1884Medieval to ModernGallery 240
What do you think the painter thought was the most important partof the picture?
(Grant Wood was first interested in painting the housein the background. He added the farmer and his daughter after painting the house with the pointed window.)
What do you think these people are thinking? Do they seem mador just serious?
(Some people think they look very unpleasant, almost angry, but Wood said he painted typical Americans who were strong and steadfast. The woman is actually Wood’s sister and the farmer ishis dentist.)
How many straight pointy lines can you find?
(The pitchfork is probably the first pointed object your see, but look closer. The farmer’sclothes have many straight lines, including the piping on his overallsthat looks just like a pitchfork. The roof and window are pointed and there is even a pointed spire way off in the distance. Don’t miss thespiky cactus on the porch.)
Let's look at this painting one more way before we go. First find the biggest thing in thepicture. Why do you think this lady and gentleman are so much bigger than everyone else?Let's look at the painting from an angle.
(Move to the right corner of the painting and look from a45 degree angle. This was the angle from which the artist wanted the painting to be viewed, so the people look to be the right size from that perspective.)
“The Child’s Bath”by Mary Cassatt1893American ArtGallery 273
How many people do you see? What do they seem to be doing?Do you think they know one another?
(There are four people. Oneof them is a server and the others seem to at least have something todrink. The man and the woman facing us seem to know each other, astheir hands are close together. Otherwise, they all seem like strang-ers.)
What do you think these people are saying? What do you thinkthey are feeling?
The people could be talking, but it seems as thoughthey are all lost in their own thoughts. Every person in the picture isslumping and appears to be sad and lonely. Hopper started painting this picture right after the attack at Pearl Harbor, so maybe he was feel-ing sad too)
From where is all the light in the picture shining?
(The bright lightsfrom the diner are the only lights in the picture. Everything else is dark.The diner has fluorescent lights, which had just been invented.)
Where do you see straight lines? Where do the lines seem to point?
(The lines in themother’s dress point towards the bath tub and the toes. If you draw two imaginary lines from thenoses, they also point towards the bath tub. The artist wants to make sure you don’t miss thebath tub.)
Where do you see round shapes?
(The faces are both round, as is the tub and the pitcher.The round shapes give a soft feeling to the painting.)
“The Night Hawks”by Edward Hopper 1942AmericanGallery 262
How do you think these people feel about each other? Whatmakes you think that?
(The mother and child certainly love eachother. You can tell from the closeness of their heads and the gentle-ness of their hands.)
Is this bath time the same as your bath time at home?
(Baths havechanged a great deal since the end of the 1800s. One of the reasonsthat Cassatt painted this subject was to encourage people to begin tobathe more and be cleaner. It was not uncommon for people to only bathe once a month!)
What is the first thing you notice when you look a this picture.This is the focal point.
(The two dark heads against the pale skin aremost noticeable.)
Of course, it is night, but what time of night do you think is shown in this painting?
(It seems to bevery late at night, as there is no traffic on the street and the area around the diner is completely de-serted.)
Would you want to go in this diner? How do you think you would get in? How do you thinkthese people will get out?
(There do not seem to be any doors in our out. Everyone in this pic-ture is trapped. Even you are trapped. You can see inside, but there is no way in.)
“The Herring Net”by Winslow Homer 1875American ArtGallery 171
Whose bedroom is this? Can you guess what this person does for a living? Does it seem to be a person who is rich or poor?
(This isVan Gogh’s bedroom in Arles and because he was quite a poor painter it is furnished simply. You cannot guess from his room that he is a painter, as there are no paintbrushes or other supplies. You can seeVan Gogh’s hat and cloak that he would have used daily as he painted outside.)
What color do you see the most? What color pops out at youwhen you look at the painting? What happens when you cover upthe red bedspread.
The majority of the colors are muted blues,browns, and greens. The red bedspread is the one color that standsout among the others. Without the red bedspread, the painting looksdepressed, but the red gives the picture a happy feeling.)
What do you think is outside the window?
(You can’t see outsidethe window, but there seems to be lots of light and color.)
What do you think the weather is like in this picture? What clues does the painter use totell you about the weather?
(The foggy, gray sky and giant waves tell us that the fishermen arefishing in windy or stormy weather. The cool colors (blue, grey) give the painting a feeling of coldness.)
What feeling do you think the painter wants us to feel when looking at this painting? Howwould this feeling change if it were a sunny, calm sea?
(The painter wants us to feel respect for the dangerous job of fishing. A sunny sky and sea would give us the feeling that fishing wasan easy or a fun job.
“The Bedroom at Ar-les”by Vincent Van Gogh1889Medieval to ModernGallery 241
How many people do you see? How many boats do you see?
(There are two people fishing in the boat and there appears to be at least four schooners in the distance and one dory in the front.)
What part of the painting is closest to you? What part is furthestaway?
(The man and boy fishing in the boat are in the foreground and the schooners are in the background.)
Can you see where the land and the sky meet?
(The waves and thesky meet in the background. This line is called the horizon line.)
What things do you see hanging off of the small boat?
(The young boy with his net and the net full of herring are hanging off oppositesides of the boat. In real life, these two things keep the boat balanced and they also help the painting to feel balanced.)
Why are his belongings in pairs. How many pairs can you find?
(There are two chairs, pil-lows, washbowls, two drawings, two paintings, and two doors. Van Gogh began painting this se-ries of paintings when he was expecting Gauguin’s visit. Perhaps he was looking forward to friend-ship and partnership.)

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