Exploring Art History with Preschoolers

Who says preschool subjects have to be limited to ABCs, 123s, dinosaurs and butterflies?  Big M is just as interested in exploring larger topics, often even more so.  Her interests inspired our latest series: Exploring Art History with Preschoolers.  Join us over the next few months as we explore Great Artists, major artistic movements, seek to reproduce preschool interpretations of their famous works, test out different techniques, and more.  There might even be a little for parents to learn along the way (I know I sure am!).

Art History for Preschool


Exploring Art History with Preschoolers

To kick things off, we started with a few posts to serve as resources throughout our art adventure.  First, 40+ books to introduce the concept of art, as well as the Great Artists, in picture books, perfect for young creative minds.  Next, we created a shopping list to augment your craft closet beyond traditional crayons and markers, in preparation for all our projects to follow.

Getting Started – Posts for Reference

Art History - 25+ Books to Meet the Great Artists for Preschool

40+ Books to Introduce Art and Great Artists

 Art for Preschool - Art Supply List

Art Supply List

 

Art History Timeline

Starting from the references above, we began undertaking our preschool interpretations of art throughout the ages.  Posts are organized below based on major art movements and artist.

Modernism (1870 – 1970)

A movement beyond art that arose from the modernization of Western society with the industrial revolution.  Shaped and informed by industry, growth of cities and eventually, the horror of World War I.  Techniques include experimenting with traditional forms and drawing attention to the processes and materials.

Impressionism (1870 – 1920)

The first Impressionist Exhibition took place in 1874.  After being rejected by the official, state-sponsored exhibition in Paris, known as the Salon, Claude Monet, August Renoir, Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot, Alfred Sisley, along with several others, decided to organize their own exhibition.  Impressionist works were criticized for their ‘lack of finish’ and ‘mere impressions’ by art experts of their day.  Instead of the sharp lines and contours painted in studios the critics were accustomed to seeing from Salon painters, Impressionists used free brush strokes, and often painted in the open air, capturing landscapes and everyday life in different lights.

While never fully accepted in France, collectors outside of Paris gradually came to find value in the vision and style of the Impressionists.  American and other non-French collectors purchased many of their works, and a large share of Impressionist works remains outside French collections today.

Monet Water Lilies Sensory Bin

Monet Water Lilies
Sensory Bin

Degas Dancers Preschool Art Study of Models and Pastels

Degas Dancers:
Intro of Models & Pastels

Tints and Shades with Van Gogh's Sunflowers

Tints & Shades:
Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

Teach your preschooler about the artistic masters, like Claude Monet, with simplified painting ideas for kids. | Art for Kids | STEAM for Kids | Art History for Preschool | Kids Crafts | Kids Activities

Claude Monet for Kids
Waterlilies Art Project

 

 

Post-Impressionism (1886 – 1905)

Post-Impressionism was a primarily French artistic movement, rejecting the limitations of Impressionism (natural depiction of light and color), in favor of stronger geometric forms, distortion, and unnatural or arbitrary color choices.  Leaders of this movement include  Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Georges Seurat.

Studying Rousseau - Nature Inspired Process Art for Preschoolers

Studying Rousseau

Studying Spots with Seurat - Pointillism Process Art for Preschool

Pointillism for Preschool

Expressionism (1900 – 1950)

Expressionism was a modern movement, originating in Germany in poetry and painting at the turn of the 20th century.  It is known for the first truly abstract art, as Expressionists sought to express an emotional experience through their work, rather than physical reality.

Famous Artists for Kids

 Elmer Meets Kandinsky

 

Painting with Music and Kandinsky - Process Art for Preschoolers

The Noisy Paint Box
Painting w/ Music & Kandinsky

Splat - Toddler Process Art Inspired by Jackson Pollock Pin

SPLAT! Toddler Process Art Inspired by Pollock

Fauvism (1900 – 1910)

Led by Les Fauves, French for The Beasts, works from this movement are known for painterly qualities and strong use of color vs. the more realistic creations of the Impressionists.  The movement was led by Henri Matisse and Andre Derain.

Exploring Matisse Cutouts - Painting with Scissors

Painting with Scissors:
Exploring Matisse Cutouts

Matisse Goldfish Masterpieces Shapes and Colors - Art History for Preschool

Matisse Goldfish:
Exploring Shapes & Colors

Cubism (1904 – 1925)

Cubism is often considered to be the most influential art movement of the 20th century.  The avant-garde movement dramatically changed sculpture and painting, and inspired related movements in other fields as well, such as architecture, music and literature.  In Cubist works, objects are analyzed, their parts dissembled, and put back together in abstract form.  Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque are considered the pioneers of Cubism, though they were ultimately joined by many others.

 

 Art for Preschool - Picasso Portraits

Cubism & Picasso Portraits

Pop Art (1950s – 1960s)

Pop Art emerged first in the UK, and then in the United States, challenging traditional fine art by incorporating elements of popular culture into art.  Often featuring news, advertisements, cartoons, artists works were commentary on mass culture.  In the United States, Andy Warhol is among the most well known Pop Artists of the era.

Process Art with Preschool Pop Culture - An Andy Warhol-Inspired Project

Pop Culture Process Art


 Have you studied the masters with your preschoolers? What other artists have you explored or would you like to see us study? If you have tried one of the projects from our Art History for Preschooler series, I would love to see it! Share it with me on my Facebook wall or tag us on Instagram anytime with @PGPBMeghan.

You can find all of these and countless more on our Art for Kids board on Pinterest.

23 comments

History Activities and Crafts for Preschool and Kindergarten January 25, 2017 at 9:10 am

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Pop Culture Process Art for Preschool ⋆ Playground Parkbench December 2, 2015 at 10:19 pm

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The Noisy Paint Box Process Art ⋆ Playground Parkbench November 19, 2015 at 1:34 pm

[…] It was not that long ago that artistic techniques were as prescribed as scientific processes or mathematical equations.  Critics and instructors frowned upon artists who looked to create outside the confinements of traditional methods. Kandinsky was one such artist, and fortunately for all of us, ignored his critics.  He wanted art to inspire and make you feel, like music.  He is credited with creating the first truly abstract works of art.  The Noisy Paint Box gives an account of Kandinsky’s life and career in a children’s book, and served as the basis of our music-inspired process art, the next activity in our Art History for Preschool Series. […]

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Studying Spots with Seurat ⋆ Playground Parkbench November 12, 2015 at 8:04 am

[…] you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out our entire Art History for Preschool series, including popular favorites, Elmer Meets Kandinsky and Picasso Portraits.  You can find […]

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Studying Rousseau: Nature-Inspired Process Art for Preschoolers ⋆ Playground Parkbench November 3, 2015 at 9:42 pm

[…] Art Book for Children has provided an endless source of inspiration in our Art History for Preschool series.  Featuring great artists with full page reproductions of their most famous works, it brings art […]

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[…] you enjoyed this post, you might also our Monet Water Lilies Sensory Bin, part of our Art History for Preschool series, or our Farm Animal Sensory Bin. You can find all of these, along with great ideas from […]

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Farm Animals Sensory Bin ⋆ Playground Parkbench October 12, 2015 at 10:54 am

[…] the big deal?  And then I made our first one: the Monet Water Lilies Sensory Bin as part of my Art for Preschool series.  The girls were totally obsessed, played with it forever, and requested to play with it again and […]

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Famous Artists for Kids: Elmer Meets Kandinsky ⋆ Playground Parkbench September 17, 2015 at 2:18 pm

[…] unique patterns – many of which remind me of famous artists.  As we continue our studies of Famous Artists for Kids, all I could see when I looked at Elmer was Kandinsky and his famous painting, Squares with […]

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Tints and Shades with Van Gogh's Sunflowers ⋆ Playground Parkbench September 2, 2015 at 9:24 pm

[…] has set in!  But, we are still managing to do a few fun activities each week, continuing with our Art for Preschoolers series.  Today, marks a truly special project – the first project the Ms completed in their […]

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Degas Dancers: Preschool Art Study of Models & Pastels - Playground Parkbench August 29, 2015 at 10:18 am

[…] been tutu obsessed ever since!  I knew she would be beyond fascinated by the next artist in our Preschool Art series, as we studied the Degas Dancers.  Unlike many Impressionists who painted landscapes outdoors, […]

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[…] Night-Inspired Sensory Bin she made for her boys.  As soon as I started brainstorming for our Art History for Preschool series, I knew I wanted to do one of our own.  When researching the Impressionists, and […]

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Preschool Art: Picasso Portraits - Playground Parkbench August 19, 2015 at 8:31 pm

[…] girls and I are having so much fun with this Preschool Art series. I love the inspiration it is providing me in coming up with fun new activities, and I love all the […]

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Art for Preschool - Art Supplies! - Playground Parkbench August 18, 2015 at 6:18 pm

[…] week, I kicked off our Art History for Preschool series.  I started by sharing a great list of books to help you and your preschool get excited […]

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Painting with Scissors - Exploring Matisse Cutouts - Playground Parkbench August 13, 2015 at 8:51 pm

[…] you enjoyed this post, you can find all our Exploring Art History with Preschoolers posts here and on our Art for Kids board on […]

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