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Three Ways to Make a Scene

For Grades 4–12

André Derain's The Trees, ca. 1906. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome

Table of Contents

Featured Works
Objectives
Materials
Background Information for Educators
Discussion
Activity
New York State Learning Standards and Core Curriculum
Audio 


Featured Works

 
André Derain
(French, 1880–1954)
The Trees, ca. 1906
Oil on canvas
23 3/8 x 28 1/2 inches (59.4 x 72.4 cm)
Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., in memory of Helen Northrup Knox, 1971

Stuart Davis
(American, 1894–1964)
New York Waterfront, 1938
Oil on canvas
22 x 30 1/4 inches (55.9 x 76.8 cm)
Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Room of Contemporary Art Fund, 1943 

Giorgio de Chirico
(Italian, 1888–1978)
The Anguish of Departure, 1913–14
Oil on canvas
33 1/2 x 27 1/4 inches (85.1 x 69.2 cm)
Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Room of Contemporary Art Fund, 1939
Background Information for Educators


Objectives

  • Become familiar with the artists André Derain, Stuart Davis, and Giorgio de Chirico
  • Explore three techniques for creating a landscape
  • Create a collage inspired by one of three works from the Gallery’s Collection


Materials

  • The Long Curve Presentation
  • Found paper materials (can include, but are not limited to, tissue paper, magazine cutouts, patterned paper, wallpaper samples, stickers, etc.)
  • Coloring materials (crayons, markers, colored pencils, etc.)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Cardstock


Background Information for Educators

Remember to accept each student’s opinions and to encourage students to support their statements and interpretations.

André Derain

André Derain was a French painter and sculptor whose philosophy of painting was to express emotion through color. He said, “We were always intoxicated with color, with words that speak of color, and with the sun that makes colors live.” Born in 1880, Derain was a serious student of art. In 1905, he had a famous exhibition at the French Academy of Fine Arts along with his fellow artist and friend Henri Matisse. The bright, unnatural colors they used led a well-known art critic to call the artists “les Fauves,” which means “the wild beasts” in French. This criticism stuck, and to this day, the style of these works is known as Fauvism. Derain’s work went through various stages throughout his career, even going back to traditional painting, which is demonstrated in the Gallery’s painting from 1938–39, Young Girl Peeling Fruit (Slide #6). Derain died tragically in 1954 in a car accident and today is most known for his Fauvist work, as exemplified by the Gallery’s painting from around 1906, The Trees.

Stuart Davis

Stuart Davis's New York Waterfront, 1938

Born in Philadelphia, Stuart Davis was raised by parents who both studied at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts and supported his leaving high school to study with the well-known American artist Robert Henri. Henri taught Davis to create art by capturing urban life realistically and unglamorously. In 1913, Davis attended the First International Exhibition of Modern Art (also known as the Armory Show) in New York, where modern art took hold of Davis and influenced him to switch his focus to modern European styles, especially Cubism (see Slide #8). This inspiration is evident in the Gallery’s work from 1938, New York Waterfront. Influenced by modern European art and jazz music, Davis created bright and vivid urban landscape paintings like this one with energetic shapes and lines. He often depicted locations that were connected with jazz, leading to his participation in many commissioned mural projects during the Great Depression. Davis enjoyed success as an artist and befriended many artists who painted in non-objective styles, yet he never abandoned recognizable subject matter in his own work.

Giorgio de Chirico

Giorgio de Chirico's The Anguish of Departure, 1913–14. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome

Giorgio de Chirico was an Italian painter, writer, theater designer, and printmaker whose paintings in the years leading up to World War II affected many artists throughout Europe, including those who eventually called themselves the Surrealists. He often painted everyday objects in ways that created uncomfortable feelings, such as uncertainty, mystery, or fear. The work in the Gallery’s Collection reflects one of de Chirico’s life experiences—the death of his father, a railroad engineer, when de Chirico was sixteen. Within the painting are objects related to departure: the train in the background, the two figures possibly saying “goodbye,” and the horse-drawn caravan leaving the left foreground. The large, imposing space in the painting, along with the distortion of perspective and long, dark shadows contribute to a feeling of anguish, loneliness, or loss. De Chirico often used descriptive titles—such as the title of the Gallery’s work, The Anguish of Departure—to invite his viewers into his imaginary landscapes. He lived until a few months after his ninetieth birthday, leaving behind a legacy that influenced artists, filmmakers, writers, and even an illustration for the cover of Ico, a video game released by Sony Computer Entertainment in 2001.


Discussion

  • Display Slide #5. Ask your students the following questions:
    • What do you see? Is it possible to identify everything in the painting (for example, mountains, clouds, leaves, etc.) or do some students disagree on what each object could be?
    • How is this like a real forest?
    • How is it not like a real forest?
  • Explain that Derain’s philosophy of painting was to express emotion through color. In art, this is called expressionism. Ask: How do you think Derain felt about the forest? What emotions do you feel while looking at this painting?
  • Brainstorm with your students about what they may see on a waterfront (for example, docks, boats, buildings, etc.). Now display Slide #7. Ask your students the following questions:
    • What shapes do you see and what do you think they represent?
    • How is this like a real waterfront?
    • How is it not like a real waterfront?
    • What colors did Davis choose and why do you think he chose them?
  • Explain that Davis wanted to reflect American life by using bright colors and bold forms to depict typically American urban landscapes (in this case, the New York waterfront). If applicable to your students, explain that he was influenced by the Cubists and compare aspects of Davis’s works to Cubism, referring to Slide #8.
  • Display Slide #9. Ask your students the following questions:
    • This painting is of a piazza, the Italian word for an urban gathering place. Does this look like a place you would want to gather with your friends? Why or why not?
    • Can you identify all the objects in the painting?
    • Explain that de Chirico painted everyday objects, but manipulated them to create uncomfortable feelings, such as uncertainty, mystery, and fear. Point out the objects that are related to departure: the train in the background, the two figures possibly saying “goodbye,” and the horse-drawn caravan leaving the left foreground. Ask what helps to contribute to an uncomfortable feeling (the empty urban space, the small figures, the distortion of perspective, and the long, dark shadows). Ask what mood the painting evokes for them and why.
  • Display Slide #10 and ask the following questions:
    • What do these three works have in common? (Examples: they are all landscapes, they are all paintings.)
    • What is different? (Examples: their use of color, their use of geometric shapes versus organic shapes.)
    • What kinds of colors does each artist use? What kinds of shapes does each artist use? Are any shapes and colors repeated? Describe them.
    • Ask your students to point out the horizon line (the line where the land and sky appear to meet): sometimes it is hidden by objects in the painting, but an approximation can be made.
    • Which one do you like best and why?


Activity

  • Explain to your students that they are going to be creating a collage inspired by one of the three works of art they just discussed. Talk about what a collage is (collages are made by gluing papers and various materials to canvas or paper) and techniques for creating a collage. Here are a few techniques that you can discuss:
    • Creating visual contrast by putting complementary or warm/cool colors next to each other
    • Creating harmony by using mostly organic or geometric shapes
    • Using patterns or repeating lines/shapes to create rhythm
  • Have the students choose one of the three works that were discussed for their inspiration. Then lead your students through the following process to create their landscape collage:
    • Hand out the cardstock and have your students draw the horizon line according to the work they chose. (For example, a line through the center for Derain, no line drawn for Davis, or a line toward the top like de Chirico.)
    • Next, let the students color or paint the whole sheet. They may choose to do one solid color like Davis or different colors for the sky and land like de Chirico, or divide the canvas roughly in half like Derain.
    • Let your students choose from the found materials (ideas are listed above in the Materials section) for their collages and construct their own landscape of a place of their choice. The students may cut, rip, tear, fold, or crinkle their found materials.
    • Lastly, the students are to glue the found materials onto the cardstock to create their landscapes, keeping in mind the work of art they chose as inspiration. (For example, if they chose de Chirico’s work, they could put in a moving vehicle to represent the train, such as a car, truck, bicycle, or boat. If they chose Davis’s work, then they could cut out shapes in three or four colors of their choice. For Derain, they might use little pieces of paper as if they are brushstrokes.)
  • When finished, have the students display their works and have the class guess which artist inspired each student’s work. This conclusion could be made into a game or a class discussion. Once the class guesses, let each student tell which artist they chose for their source of inspiration.


New York State Learning Standards and Core Curriculum

  • New York State Learning Standards for the Arts (Visual Arts, including the museum visit) 1, 2, 3, 4
  • College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Language 1, 4, 6
  • College and Career Readiness Core 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, 3, 4, 5

Audio

  • André Derain's The Trees: Audio for Younger Students

  • André Derain's The Trees: Audio for High School Students

  • André Derain's The Trees: Audio Description

  • Stuart Davis's New York Waterfront: Audio for Younger Students

  • Stuart Davis's New York Waterfront: Audio for High School Students

  • Giorgio de Chirico's The Anguish of Departure: Audio for Younger Students

  • Giorgio de Chirico's The Anguish of Departure: Audio for High School Students

  • Giorgio de Chirico's The Anguish of Departure: Audio Description