Beyond Landscape K–4
For Grades K–4
Featuring Anselm Kiefer’s der Morgenthau Plan (The Morgenthau Plan), 2012, in the special exhibition Anselm Kiefer: Beyond Landscape (November 17, 2013–October 5, 2014)
Table of Contents
Background Information about the Artist and Work for the Teacher
In the Classroom
New York State Learning Standards and Core Curriculum
(German, born 1945)
der Morgenthau Plan (The Morgenthau Plan), 2012
Emulsion and acrylic on photograph on canvas
110 x 224 inches (279.4 x 569 cm)
Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Pending Acquisition Funds, 2013, and Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Image courtesy the Gagosian Gallery.
- Become familiar with the artist Anselm Kiefer
- Learn about the term texture and the difference between implied and actual texture
- For Grades 3 and 4: begin to understand how war affects a landscape
- Flowers for touch activity
- Examples of paintings of flowers (works in the AK Collection linked below)
- Computer device (personal computer or tablet)
- Drawing programs on each device (for example: Paint (Microsoft) or Paintbrush (Mac))
- Digital files of landscape images
- Hardware for printing
- Paper and pencils
About the Artist
Anselm Kiefer was born the year World War II ended, when both the landscape and psyche of Germany had been severely damaged. As an artist, Kiefer confronts this history directly in his work. The artist’s sculptures and paintings may evoke the scorched earth and ruined buildings of postwar Germany, but they also signify transformation and rebirth.
About the Work
Unlike most of Kiefer’s works, der Morgenthau Plan (The Morgenthau Plan) is almost serene. It depicts a field of overgrown flowers in a monumental panorama of the landscape surrounding the artist’s studio complex in Barjac, France. Revisiting a process used earlier in his career, Kiefer paints directly onto color photographs that are printed to fit canvases of various sizes. The thick impasto almost completely obscures the original photograph.
Der Morgenthau Plan references what is today a little-known plan for the reorganization of the German economy in the aftermath of World War II. The Morgenthau Plan, proposed by Henry Morgenthau, Jr. (1891–1967), who served in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s cabinet from 1934 to 1945, called for the de-industrialization of Germany and the return of the country to a pastoral existence. It is believed that the Plan, if adopted, would have led to the death of more than ten million Germans within the first two years of the war’s end.
Texture – The characteristic visual and tactile quality of the surface of a work of art resulting from the way in which the materials are used. (Dictionary.com)
Actual texture – the way a three-dimensional work feels when touched
Implied texture – the visual "feel" of a two-dimensional work (how an artist creates the illusion of a texture)
Emulsion – The paint type known as emulsion in the UK and latex in the USA is a water-borne dispersion of sub-micrometer polymer particles.
- Gather a variety of real flowers (or plan to go outside with your class to explore wildflowers if weather permits). Make sure the variety has different textures on the petals, stems, leaves, etc.
- Pull together examples of paintings of flowers. Two examples in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Collection include:
Henri Rousseau. Flowers in a Vase, 1909
Odilon Redon. Vase de fleurs, ca. 1912–1914
- Have students discover how each part of the flowers feels by touch. As a class, create a list of descriptive words (soft, smooth, sharp, fuzzy, hairy, etc.) to describe the textures. Explain that this is actual texture.
- Next, students should look at the paintings and describe how they think the objects would feel. Explain that this is implied texture. Discuss with your students that artists intentionally create implied texture.
Due to the size and details of der Morgenthau Plan (The Morgenthau Plan), it is recommended that teachers visit the Albright-Knox Art Gallery with their students to view the work.
- Visit the Gallery with your students and view the work, der Morgenthau Plan (The Morgenthau Plan).
- Ask the students to describe what they see in the painting (flowers, stems, grass, sky, etc.). Ask: Does this painting look like a place you have been? Why?
- Ask the students to describe the texture in the work of art. Remind them to reflect back on the words they came up with in the classroom. Explain that they are describing implied texture. (For older students, ask which type of texture they are describing.)
- Explain how Kiefer created this painting. Inform students that Kiefer took a photograph of the fields around his home, then enlarged the photograph to fit the canvas and painted directly on the photograph. By adding the paint directly over the photograph, Kiefer changed the landscape to look different from how it looked in real life.
- Ask: If you were to take a photograph outside your home, what would be in the photograph? What textures would you see in the photograph?
- Ask: Would you want to paint over the photograph? Why or why not? If you did paint over the photograph, what textures would you want to add?
- Explain that Kiefer painted this painting to show a landscape without people in it. Ask: If you were to paint a landscape without people in it, what would you paint?
Further Discussion for Grades 3 and 4
Suggested lead-in for a discussion about war affecting the landscape: Land often plays an important role in war. Some wars are fought over who owns the land. Land is also where you can see the damage of what happened during the war. War is a big part of human history and many artists create art about war. Anselm Kiefer thinks about what happens to the landscape after wars.
- What happens to land during war? (ex. damaged by bombs, mines, gunshots, etc.)
- If you were to paint a landscape that had been damaged by war, what colors would you use? Look at the colors in der Morgenthau Plan (The Morgenthau Plan). Are any of the colors the same ones you would use? Why or why not?
- What textures would you add to your war landscape? Why?
Find landscape images online (or upload photos). For older students, you can choose to have them use their own photograph for this activity. Have the photo sent in digitally, either by uploading a file to an e-mail or bringing in a device that houses the file, such as a flash drive.|
- Instruct the students to open up the drawing program on the computer or tablet.
- Have the students upload a photograph into the drawing program. This step should be completed before the lesson begins for the youngest grade levels.
- Encourage students to explore altering the image using the different paint and drawing tools within the program by drawing directly on top of the image.
- When finished with their new (altered) image, the students should write the texture they “see” on their finished piece. This can be done within the drawing program using the text tools or written directly on the printed artwork.
- For the older levels: ask the students to write a paragraph to describe their artwork. The paragraph should include the texture they observe in the final piece.
- Print out the finished works of art (if available).
Ask students to discuss the following questions in pairs or write down the answers as individuals:
- How is the new (altered) image different from the original image? Look at the colors, lines, and objects within both images.
- Compare the textures of the two images. Are there any new textures in the new (altered) image?
- Is the new (altered) image a landscape you would like to visit? Why or why not? Did you add people to your landscape? Why or why not?
- College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening 1, 2, 5, 6
- College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing 1, 2, 11 (including writing exercises, using works of art as text)
- New York State Learning Standards for the Arts (Visual Arts, including the museum visit) 1, 2, 3, 4
- New York State Learning Standards for Technology 3
Anselm Kiefer: Beyond Landscape
November 17, 2013–October 5, 2014