Gustav Klimt and Georges Seurat…for children

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Children are the best observers. It was such a joy to come to school while the traveling art exhibit was on display and hear the conversations that children were having about Klimt and Seurat. I heard one of my students say…”Klimt was one of the greatest artists because he used gold swirly whirlies in his paintings.” It was fun to see my first graders be inspired by Seurat and create a painting using dots (pointillism) just like Seurat.  For one week, the school was covered in the happy wallpaper of Klimt and Seurat. Children could not walk by the banners without staring in awe at these incredible masterpieces.
 
Having these beautiful pieces of art at Hilltop made for a powerful learning environment…it gave children the chance to explore, observe and experience art that we can’t just fly off to Paris to see. When you go to a museum, you have the power to choose what to look at…the children now have the pictures stored in your head. The memories created are filed for future reference. It was a pleasure to be a docent for our school and to watch the children gain an appreciation for Klimt and Seurat.
Here are some questions, quotes and information about Gustav Klimt and Georges Seurat to inspire you and your children…
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Gustav Klimt:
Gustav Klimt was one of seven children. Klimt’s father was a gold engraver…around all that gold Klimt was very poor for most of his childhood. It was a difficult time to get work and he was very lucky to be awarded a scholarship to the Vienna School of the Arts. He loved art, life and his cat. Klimt’s style of swirling flowing lines and patterns was called “Art Nouveau” or “New Art.” Klimt lived a simple life. He wore a robe and sandals while he painted all day, every day…it paid off because some of his paintings sold for more than $135 million dollars. Gustav painted highly ornamental figures that appear to float in a dream like space. Exploring Klimt, gives us the opportunity to look at shapes with fresh eyes.

Questions to ask children: When would you have guessed these were painted? What shapes can you see? Why does Klimt like gold so much? Why does he like cats? Think about how Seurat and Klimt grew up…one was poor, one rich. Was money important? Did they both work hard and keep trying?

Quotes to inspire children:
Art is a line around your thoughts.
Look carefully at my pictures and try and see in them what I am and what I want to do.

Craving more? Here’s a little video that I showed my class…Who is Gustav Klimt?

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George Seurat:

Seurat developed a technique called “pointillism” using tiny dots of colors, which become blended in the viewer’s eye. If you have the chance to see it, look at it close up, then take a few steps back and see Seurat’s vision. Seurat never gave up…even when his art was rejected in Paris. He decided to form an independent art society as he developed his pointillism technique that later took off. This new method of painting used dots instead of brush strokes to create the picture was all the rage in Paris. Georges Seurat spent two years working on the painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” (French for big river)…it was as bigger than a mini van and was only twenty-six when he completed it. This same painting was on loan in 1958 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City when a fire broke out. The fire damaged some paintings, but Seurat’s beloved work was whisked away to safety through an elevator evacuation plan.

Unlike Klimt, Georges Seurat was from a very wealthy family in Paris during a time when money was hard to come by. Seurat worked with mostly crayons on paper…just like an everyday kid!! His work has been described as the most beautiful painter’s drawings in existence. Do you agree?

Other questions to ask children: Can art and science combine? Did you know that Seurat’s most famous painting has had more screen time than any other piece of art? Here are a few places you might have seen La Grande Jatte: Ferris Bueller’s Day OffSesame StreetThe Simpsons, and Looney Tunes: Back in Action

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Quotes to inspire children:
Some say they see poetry in my paintings; I see only science.
Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.
Under a blazing mid-afternoon summer sky, we see the Seine (that’s the river you see in the painting) flooded with sunshine…people are strolling, others are sitting or stretched out lazily on the bluish grass.

Here’s a video about Seurat that children will enjoy and this video is “artrageous” too!

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Related posts:

Mary Cassatt: 5 things you might not know
Botticelli to Braque…with children 

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