Print this page
X Close
 

For Further Consideration

Concluding Questions
After completing the lessons in this guide, ask your students to make a list of any questions they may still have about one or more of the artists. Organize their questions into categories so that they can conduct their own research. Categories can include: biographical questions; questions about a specific work of art, such as why the artist made it and what types of materials the artist used; and questions regarding an historical event that took place during the artist’s lifetime.

Additional Work to Explore

Henri Matisse. Interior with a Young Girl (Girl Reading). Paris 1905-06   Henri Matisse. Interior with a Young Girl (Girl Reading). Paris 1905-06

Image-based Discussion
• Think of five words you might choose to describe this painting. Write them down. Why did you select them? Compare your choices with those of your classmates.

• Describe the figure in this painting in as much detail as possible. What do you suppose this person is doing? How can you tell? Take a moment and assume the pose of the figure in this painting. What does this pose suggest to you? Why?

The figure shown in Matisse’s Interior with a Young Girl (Girl Reading) is the artist’s daughter, Marguerite. Matisse’s family was often the subject of his work, portrayed at home playing music or reading. Marguerite’s pose—looking down with her head buried in a book—suggests a private moment. Although Marguerite may have been reading quietly, the bright colors Matisse applied to articulate her likeness, as well as the objects and space around her, are vibrant and intense. One writer even likened the painting to a room on fire. [Pierre Schneider in John Elderfield, Matisse in the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1978, 46.] Matisse once summarized his work in the following manner:

Expression to my way of thinking does not consist of the passion mirrored upon a human face or betrayed by a violent gesture. The whole arrangement of the picture is expressive. The place occupied by figures or objects, the empty spaces around them, the proportions, everything plays a part. Composition is the art of arranging in a decorative manner the various elements at the painterís disposal for the expression of his feelings. In a picture every part will be visible and will play the role conferred upon it, be it principal or secondary. All that is not useful in the picture is detrimental. A work of art must be harmonious in its entirety; for superfluous details would, in the mind of the beholder, encroach upon the essential elements. [Henri Matisse, “Notes of a Painter,” in Matisse: His Art and His Public, 1951; repr. Herschel B. Chipp, Theories on Modern Art (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968), 130.]

• What is your reaction to Matisse’s statement? Does it change your initial observations of this painting? Why or why not?

• Look back at Matisse’s Landscape at Collioure. Make a list of similarities and differences between Interior with a Young Girl (Girl Reading) and Landscape at Collioure.

Activity: Artists on Art
Many of the artists in this guide wrote frequently about current issues in art as well as about their own art. Have your students read the following statements by Matisse and Nolde. The questions that follow may be used for discussion or for a writing project.

In 1908, Matisse published Notes of a Painter, a book of his personal essays on art. The following passage describes one of his views on art:

What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, an art which might be for every mental worker, be he businessman or writer, like an appeasing influence, like a mental soother, something like a good armchair in which to rest from physical fatigue. [Ibid, 135.]

Nolde’s views are a study in contrast:

When you notice anarchy, recklessness, or licentiousness in works of contemporary art, when you notice crass coarseness and brutality, then occupy yourself long and painstakingly precisely with these works, and you will suddenly recognize how the seeming recklessness transforms itself into freedom, the coarseness into high refinements. Harmless pictures are seldom worth anything. [Benson et al., Nolde: the Painter's Prints, 37.]

• Ask your students to consider the quotes by Matisse and Nolde. Ask them to respond to each artist’s ideas about art. Ask if they support or differ with Matisseís or Nolde’s views.

• Ask your students if these statements help inform them about Matisse’s and Nolde’s work. Ask them to explain their response.

• Ask your students to define art in their own words. Ask them to share their ideas with their classmates and compare their own statements with those of Matisse and Nolde. Ask your students to locate writings or interviews of other artists they have studied, and to compare the artists’ opinions about art with their own ideas.

• Ask your students to research other artists associated with Fauvism and Expressionism who are not included in this guide. Ask them to select a work by one of these artists and compare it with a work in this guide. Ask if they notice any similarities or differences. Ask why they think the two artists were identified as part of the same group.

Writing Project: Be an Art Critic
Have your students assume the role of art critic and write an article for a local newspaper. They should choose one of the works in this guide and write a review. As part of their critique, they should explain their opinions about the work they have selected. If they wish to see samples of critical reviews, they can refer to the arts section of any major newspaper, for example The New York Times. Students should choose from one of the following scenarios:

• Imagine that you are an art critic in the year 1913. Consider what it might have been like at the time in terms of how people were living and what was going on socially, politically, and culturally. How would these factors have affected the way people might have responded to a work of art at the time?

• Imagine that you are a reporter covering a current art exhibition. What are your opinions of the artwork, and why?

Class Trip
Visit The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and locate an artwork that was included in this guide. Now that you are looking at the actual work, think about its size and scale. How would you compare the work in the Museum with the reproduction that you saw in the classroom? Are there any details you see now that you didn’t notice earlier? Have your ideas about this work changed? Why or why not?

Consider the works of art installed around the one you are viewing. How would you compare the works? Why do you think they were chosen to be exhibited together?

Research Projects
Looking Back
Refer your students to Modern Art and Ideas 1: 1883–1900. Use the activities and lessons in that guide to introduce your students to some of the artists active before and during the era presented there. Ask your students to look for connections between some of the artists featured in both guides, in order to trace artistic influences, common political and cultural interests, and whether or not certain aspects of an artistic movement had a lasting influence.

Looking Ahead
Select one of the artists in Modern Art and Ideas 2: 1893–1913. Follow the artist’s career after 1913. What kind of artwork did he or she make? Describe the different mediums used by the artist. Compare and contrast one of these works with a later work by another artist in this guide. Do you notice any similarities or differences? Were there any factors that played an important role in their work, such as historical events (for example, World War I) or personal experiences? How did other people react to the earlier artist’s work?

Looking at American History
Compare the artistic climate in the United States during this period with that of France and/or Germany. Who were some prominent American artists at this time? Why were they prominent?

As part of your research, choose one or two works of art by an American artist. Describe the work in as much detail as possible and include reactions from art critics or historians from around the time the work was made. Do you agree or disagree with published opinions of this work?

Art Connections
The artists featured in this guide worked during an era of great artistic accomplishments in culturally rich environments. Have your students explore other art forms during the era of the late nineteenth to early twentieth century.
Explore connections with:

• Writers active during this time and writers who were influential to the artists in this guide, for example, Émile Zola, Charles Baudelaire, Leo Tolstoy, Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietszche, Arthur Schopenhauer, Thomas Mann, Gerhard Hauptmann.

• Artists in other disciplines. Music: Richard Wagner, Gustav Mahler, Arnold Schönberg, Richard Strauss. Dance: the popularity of the café-concert and the cabaret. (Many historians have written about the popularity of dance during the early 1900s in large cities such as Paris and Vienna, and the connections between dance and visual art. For instance, Kokoschka frequented a popular cabaret, or dance hall, in Vienna, called the Cabaret Fledermaus. There, he saw many performances by popular dancers of the time, such as Isadora Duncan.)

 

X Close