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Putting It All Together

For Grades 3–5

Louise Nevelson's Royal Game I, 1961


Featured Works
Introductory Activity
Discussion of the Three Sculptures
Activity: Paper Sculpture
Additional Suggested Activities
New York State Learning Standards and Core Curriculum

Featured Works

Louise Nevelson
(American, born Ukraine, 1899–1988)

Royal Game I, 1961
Wood, painted gold
69 x 51 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches (175.3 x 130.8 x 21 cm)
Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1962 
(pictured above right and at bottom of page)

Drum, 1976
Direct welded aluminum, painted white
108 1/2 x 72 x 48 inches (275.6 x 182.9 x 121.9 cm)
Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Gift of Seymour H. Knox and George B. and Jenny R. Mathews Fund, 1980 
(pictured at bottom of page)

Untitled, 1958
Wood, painted black
3 1/4 x 3 1/2 x 10 3/4 inches (8.3 x 8.9 x 27.3 cm)
Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Bequest of Gordon M. Smith, 1979
(pictured at bottom of page)


  • Students will learn about the differences between three-dimensional sculpture and two-dimensional painting
  • Through observation and discussion, students will compare three very different sculptures by Louise Nevelson
  • Students will learn about  paper folding techniques and create a work of art inspired by Drum, Royal Game I, and/or Untitled
  • Students will categorize their sculptures and defend their reasoning
  • Students will arrange their sculptures into a group sculpture
  • Students will explore lighting techniques and effects using the group sculpture


  • Cardboard or cereal box bottoms
  • Tan or gold paper
  • White paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks or white glue
  • Masking tape
  • Flashlight


Introduce the difference between painting and sculpture. Painters create flat, two-dimensional objects called paintings that hang on a wall, while sculptors create objects called sculptures that exist in three-dimensional space as we do. Sometimes sculpture is meant to be walked around; sometimes it is meant to stand in front of, or even hang on a wall. Have a student stand against a wall. Discuss what each student can or can’t observe from his/her perspective. Then, have a student stand in the middle of the room and have the same discussion.


Please remember that all answers to these questions should be accepted, as students are responding to what they see and how they interpret what they see. You can add information from your teacher information when it seems to be appropriate.

Have the students look only at Louise Nevelson’s sculpture, Royal Game I. Then look only at Drum. Then look only at Untitled. For each sculpture, ask the following questions:

  • What shapes do you see? What shapes are repeated? How many rectangles? Circles? Squares? Other shapes?
  • If you wanted to recreate this yourself, what would you do first? Second? Third?
  • Why do you think that the artist chose the title?

Next, compare the three sculptures, side by side. Ask questions like:

  • What is the same about them? What is different? Which one do you think is meant to stand against a wall? Which one would stand in the middle of the room?

You can make a chart so that each comment a student makes can be addressed while regarding the other sculpture:

Title                                         Drum                    Royal Game 1                    Untitled




Where it would stand



Shape of the base

Texture-How it would feel

It reminds me of:



Make a base out of cardboard for each child (2 inches by 4 inches is a good size). Even better - cut the bottom of a box of cereal so that it looks like this:


Paper Folding Techniques Information Sheet (PDF)

Offer black, white and tan, or gold paper and have the students make a sculpture – NOT a flat painting! Have them glue pieces of one of the colored papers onto their base any way they like. Remind them to decide whether their sculpture will go against a wall or whether it will stand on their desk. They must use all the paper they have to complete their sculpture any way they like. Remind them of the texture that they saw in Nevelson’s pieces. Suggest that they concentrate on the way the work is attached to the base – the sculpture needs to be sturdy enough to stay together and stand up when dry. Students may need to change some of their choices to make sure this will be true of their sculptures. Title each sculpture.

Things you can do with the completed sculptures:

  • Put all the work in the front of the room and help your students sort the sculptures into three categories: "More Like Drum," "More Like Royal Game I," and "More like Untitled." Refer to the chart they created to help them sort the works. Ask them to defend their choices, either verbally or in writing.
  • Experiment with arranging the individual works together to create a class sculpture. A few small round circles of duct tape or masking tape on the bottom of each sculpture will help you use a blackboard to arrange them if you don’t have enough floor or desk space. Try alternating white sculptures, gold or tan boxes, and black boxes in a large grid. Try all the white boxes together. Try all the gold or tan boxes together. Try all the black boxes together.
  • Look at the class sculpture with the lights off using a flashlight. Change the placement of the flashlight (light source) and discuss how this changes the sculpture.

Additional SuggestED Activities

  • Choose a cardboard box and paint it one color. Arrange found or junk objects inside. Glue with a glue-gun or Elmer’s. You may need to find other ways to attach things besides glue—tape, staples, tying with string or yarn, etc. (It’s a great learning process to struggle with getting something to stay together. Often you must go back to the drawing board and re-think your original idea, but that is part of the problem-solving of art making.) After all the parts are attached, paint them the same color as the box. Here again, some objects will take paint and some won’t. Perhaps these objects could be left as is, or covered with colored construction paper. If you make more than one box, stack them on top of and next to each other to create a Nevelson-like piece.
  • Shut out the lights and view the boxes with a flashlight to see how light and shadows change the work. These boxes could also be stapled as a unit to a bulletin board, if each box’s bottom is glued to a piece of paper larger than the box itself.


  • New York State Learning Standards for the Arts (Visual Arts, including the museum visit) 1, 2, 3, 4
  • New York State Learning Standard in Mathematics, Science and Technology 4 (science about changing light sources and the resulting shadows)
  • College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Language 1, 2, 4, 5, 6
  • College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11 (New York only)
  • College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening 1, 2, 4
  • College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing 2, 4, 7 (plus 5 and 6 if drafts and presentations are developed from the writing)