Our Destination Imagination (high-school level) team is hard at work preparing for their 2012 challenge.
This year they must study the cultures of several countries and try to imagine how each would interact with one another. Currently they have chosen to examine French Impressionism and contrast that with African art.
For several of the team members this is their first exposure to the original paintings of the Impressionists.
The DI team members are quickly learning that the Impressionists were a radical group of artists who abandoned the realistic style of painting in favor of creating an “impression” of light and movement within the painting. This new style was dramatically different from previous painters who were constrained by efforts at realism. It was difficult for our DI team to grasp that these new painters had been thoroughly schooled in realism and were adept masters of their craft. Unlike today’s modern artists, the French Impressionists were more than capable of rendering a realistic piece. They had come to favor a more “intuitive” approach that would capture not the physical presence but the actual or “emotive” presence of the haystack, olive trees and peopled landscapes of their new art. The DI team was surprised to learn that many of these famous paintings began as “sketches” and in fact some paintings had as many as 25 renditions before the artist considered them “finished.”
The DI team carefully examined the work of Seurat. They were delighted by the thousands of dots of color that were used to create La Grande Jatte. The team understood these paintings better than those of Manet and Monet as they have a modern day corollary in the dot patterns that are regularly used to create digital photographs and pictures. DI kids were almost nonplussed by pointillism because to the 21 Century student using dots to create imagery seems basic and obvious.
Van Gogh, with his thick palette knife strokes, was by far the favorite with the group. Van Gogh clearly goes beyond technique to capture the hearts of his subjects, and thus the imagination of his viewers. These paintings were compassionate as well as novel.
From the Impressionists room the DI team moved to the African art exhibit where most work was 3-dimensional and usually created for a specific use, either domestic or ceremonial.
The African sculptures emphasized the subjects and objects that were of greatest importance to these peoples. They were functional while reflecting deep religious and cultural beliefs. In this, the African art differed greatly from the European art where the main objective was personal expression and differentiating oneself from the mainstream.
Let Me Count the Days: Homeschooling is studying the subject by seeing the original work.
Filed under: Art, Field Trips, History, Humanities | Tagged: African Art, art, Destination Imagination, education, field trips, history, homeschool, homeschooling, Impressionism, metropolitan museum of art, modern artists |