The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso is a great image to teach students about mood. Since mood is also a term used in music, I use this opportunity to draw comparisons to help illustrate the art concepts.
I discovered some guitar tracks in Garageband useful to help the students make the connection between mood in art and music. I begin to play the guitar sounds and have the students give a thumbs up or thumbs down if they think the music mood matches the visual mood of the painting. The kids really get a kick out of this exercise and it helps reinforce the concepts.
Paul McCartney was also inspired by “The Old Guitarist”. Watch Two Fingers below:
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Photography is one of my favorite forms of artistic expression. In addition to artistic merit, I am particularly interested in photographs that document life from long ago.
Compare the photo found on Histografica of the Brooklyn Bridge from 1899 to a recent image photographed in 2007. Almost the same point of view, yet a completely different scene.
Add an additional element to the scene – pop culture. Use the widgets below to listen to popular music from each of these eras.
Possible Discussion Questions:
1. How has this scene changed over the last 100 years?
2. How has photography changed over the last 100 years?
3. What type of person traveled the Brooklyn Bridge in each scene? How were lives different? The same? How might social interactions be different?
4. Listen to popular music from each era (preview songs to determine if appropriate for your students). How does this help you understand time and place? Does the music make you feel any different about the images? What if you played music from the 1899 with the photograph from 2007, does it fit?
I have always been fascinated by the beauty of Indigenous Australian art. Even more impressive is how the art is combined with a functional instrument. The traditional didgeridoo instrument is made from a Eucalyptus tree branch or trunk that has been hollowed out by termites. Listen to the sound this work of art creates.
1. What kind of sound did you expect to hear? Why?
2. How is this instrument like other instruments you are familiar with? Can you think of an another instrument that was created by a visual artist? Do you think changing the shape of the didgeridoo would change the sound?
3. Why do you think the Indigenous Australians created this musical instrument?
You may not realize it, but you see a portrait painted by Gilbert Stuart practically every day. His George Washington portrait has appeared on the U.S. one-dollar bill for more than 100 years! He’s probably the most famous portraitist of the American Revolution with a portfolio that includes most of the Founding Fathers – Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Monroe, Madison, etc.
According to Wikipedia, his works can be found today at art museums throughout the United States and Great Britain, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
According to the National Gallery of Art, because he portrayed virtually all the notable men and women of the Federal period in the United States, Gilbert Stuart was declared the “Father of American Portraiture” by his contemporaries.
To integrate music, below are mp3 clips from the album “Music of the American Revolution: The Birth of Liberty.” According to the New World Records website, this album “is a scholarly and well-programmed musical recreation of a defining moment in the nation’s history, mixing propaganda songs, psalmody, fife-and-drum music, and wind band music, the four types of music most prevalent and popular at the time.”
“The pieces on this disc have been chosen to illustrate some of the different kinds of music sung and played in the Colonies around the time of the Revolution. Sources for the music and texts of the pieces recorded are original wherever possible. No attempt has been made to recapture the untutored roughness with which much of the music was surely performed in its time. Rather, the goal has been to record polished performances by skilled singers and players,” reads the liner notes of the album.
If you’re planning to teach a lesson on portraits, consider referencing Gilbert Stuart. For added resource, below is a presentation by Martin Kalfatovic, a libraries coordinator and head of new media at the Smithsonian.
When discussing Degas and Impressionism I use classical music – preferably classical ballet – to set the mood. Here is some classical and classical ballet music to try:
1. Does hearing the music change any impressions about the work of art?
2. How might the scene change with each piece of music? How might the dance moves change? Would there be a change in costume?
New York visual artists take the painting process traditionally reserved for studios or art schools and make it public with Art Battles, which are events that meld music and painting into a competition decided by public opinion. Check out the promo video below as well as the art battle event Femme Fatale below.
Does this inspire any classroom art activities?
(Trouble viewing video? Try this link.)