Thursday, August 3, 2023

Art History - Piet Mondrian

In my Art History 2023-2024 blog post, I decided September would be Piet Mondrian. Here are some resources and my planning notes:

Piet Mondrian
1872 - 1944


Booklist for the Netherlands

Mondrian-Inspired Gift Bag

Mondrian Memory Game (PDF)
back these cards with construction paper so you can't see through them

activities from The Studio lesson plans:
Week 1 Project, p.19
Week 2 Project, p.20
Week 3 Project, p.21
Week 4 Project, p.22
Language, p.34 (Anagram)
Math, p.39 (Golden Ratio)

Mondrian Abstract Art Project
with construction paper and black glue lines

Mondrian Art Template (PDF)

Who Is Piet Mondrian
includes image of The Tree A (1913)

    "Mondrian’s fascination with trees developed out of his earlier landscape painting. This is one of his last paintings of trees and is based on realistic sketches made in the Netherlands. After settling in Paris and absorbing the influence of Cubism, Mondrian reworked the image almost to abstraction. The trunk and branches are condensed to a network of verticals and horizontals. He acknowledged the inspiration of nature but added, ‘I want to come as close as possible to the truth, and abstract everything from that until I reach the foundation of things’."

    Gallery label, April 2013

Encyclopedia of Artists

volume 4, pp.32-33

Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters

by MaryAnn Kohl and Kim Solga
p.61 - "Straight Line Design" activity
available online as a FREE PDF from Bright Ring Publishing

Using Art to Create Art: Creative Activities Using Masterpieces

by Wendy Libby
p.141 - art movement (Abstract)
p.142 - "Painting" activity
p.143 - sample piece of art, Composition (1929)
p.144 - mini biography
p.145 - "Picture" activity

I decided to join Lotus Stewart's full Art History Kids website (The Studio) and get access to her past lesson plans. I think it will really help me this year to have so much already done for me. Piet Mondrian is in the Archives.


week of Sep 4:

    Wed - look at sample artwork from The Studio lesson plans and see how Mondrian's style changed over the years

    Self-Portrait, 1900
    Mill in Sunlight, 1908
    Flowering Apple Tree, 1912
    Composition No. 6, 1914
    Self-Portrait, 1918
    Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue, 1927
    Composition with Red, Yellow, and Blue, 1935-1942
    Composition No. 12 with Blue, 1936-1942
    Trafalgar Square, 1939-1943

    Sat - play Whatchamadrawit game as an icebreaker

    pin examples of Mondrian's early artwork up on clothesline in order (1900 - 1918), adding in The Tree A (1913) from

    define abstract art

    look carefully at Mondrian's tree paintings and see that they focus on using shapes, lines, and colors to convey the feeling of the tree

    play for 20 minutes in our magnolia tree, then do abstract artwork of the magnolia tree using Gelatos

    play Charades (what could you act out to show the essence of the household item you're trying to convey?)

week of Sep 11:

    Wed - read Coppernickel Goes Mondrian and play Mondrian Memory Game (PDF)

    Coppernickel Goes Mondrian

    by Wouter van Reek

    This book is very abstract and requires students to already know a lot about Mondrian in order to be able to follow it, but I do love how it shows him going from the country (his tree paintings) to the city (his De Stijl paintings) in search of the future. The cityscapes echo the abstract art that Mondrian began to make. BUT if what he was looking for was spiritual essence and universal truths, because of his interest in theosophy, that is not actually the same as a quest for "the future." I think ultimately this book just ended up confusing my students.

    Note: the diamond painting that Mondrian (Mr. Quickstep) is making at the end of the book is Victory Boogie Woogie (1942–1944).

    If you do read this book, I would follow it with the quote in the Mondrian Memory Game and the article When Lee Krasner Met Piet Mondrian. (The YouTube video linked to via QR code in the Mondrian Memory Game is to "Mondrian" - By Sheila Graber - 1978 but it has been taken down.) You could also do the Charleston, shown here!

    Sat - review Mondrian's earlier artwork (1908-1914), look at his later artwork (1927-1943), how did he get to this place?

    play Mondrian Memory Game, focus on three cards in more depth

    QUOTE - read excerpt from When Lee Krasner Met Piet Mondrian about Mondrian using cardboard to square off the curved arches in the Victorian house where he had his studio, build a design with rectangular blocks (Large Stepped Pyramid Wooden Blocks) and another design with curved blocks (1001 Nights Wooden Blocks) and see if we agree that "Curves are so emotional"

    COMPOSITION - define composition as the arrangement of shapes in a piece of art, explore composition with geoboards and rubber bands

    PRIMARY COLORS - Mondrian's efforts to reduce his paintings to what was truly fundamental included stopping mixing paint colors -- as he always had before -- and working solely with the three primary colors plus black and white

    we explored color mixing with acrylic paints and tried to mix some of the colors that he made for The Flowering Apple Tree and The Tree A

week of Sep 18:

week of Sep 25:

    Mon - color mixing experience with primary colors (wet-on-wet)

    circle rainbow with Medium Yellow, Scarlet Red, Cobalt Blue

    Wed - read quote from the Tate website and do Mondrian Abstract Art Project with construction paper and black glue lines

    it is fairly easy for children to create straight lines and perfect corners if you give them some stiff cardboard rectangles to use as templates (I save the backing to used-up pads of watercolor paper)

    I used this Mondrian Art Template (PDF) for our younger students

    I also modified the activity by making the construction paper pieces optional and allowing the use of colored pencils for children who felt overwhelmed by cutting the shapes so precisely to make them fit

    Sat - read quote from p.24 of The Studio lesson plans and do Week 1 Project for the Donut Art Show

    play geometric shape games with our extra time: Blink and Qwirkle

I keep finding quotes from Mondrian that I like and I can't remember where they were. So here is a list:

    "Abstract art is not the creation of another reality but the true vision of reality." - The Studio, p.24

    "The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel." - The Studio, p.45

    "I want to come as close as possible to the truth, and abstract everything from that until I reach the foundation of things." - Tate

    "Curves are so emotional." - Mondrian Memory Game

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