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We have written about Georges Braque before, and are now writing because of a retrospective of his work at the Grand Palais in Paris. No full retrospective of Georges Braque’s oeuvre has been presented in Paris since the major show at the Orangerie des Tuileries in 1973-1974.
ArtDaily has a great description of Georges Braque and his cubist work,
Georges Braque (1882-1963) is one of the twentieth century’s major artists. He was a painter, engraver and sculptor, but first, as the founder of cubism and the inventor of pasted papers, one of the leading figures in the avant-garde of the early twentieth century before focusing definitively on methodical, serial exploration of still life and landscape painting, which made him the French painter par excellence, the heir to Corot and Chardin and the depository of the classical tradition as well as the precursor of post-war abstraction.
This retrospective, dedicated to the major 20th century artist Georges Braque, will survey all the periods of his artistic creation, from Fauvism to his final works culminating in the magnificent art studios and birds series. The exhibition will focus on highlights in his career, such as Cubism, the Canéphores (Basket Carriers) of the 1920’s, and his final landscapes.
CAN BRAQUE BE TAUGHT IN KINDERGARTEN?
Often art and music get appropriated as the exclusive preserve of the educated elite, and, thus, can only be appreciated and understood by those of superior intellect and education. This, of course, results in intimidation, and creates a “secular sacredness,” that has the effect of excluding all but the elect. With the advent of the New Media, however, art museums have seized this as an opportunity to use the New Media to fulfill their mission to make art accessible to everyone, while book publishers have lagged far behind.
With the opening of the Braque exhibition at the Grand Palais, we thought this would be a good time to explore the elitist notion of Fine Art by seeing if Cubism, as invented by Braque and Picasso, could be taught in Kindergarten. A “Yes” answer would negate the notion that Fine Art is the exclusive preserve of the highly educated.
So, we have come up with an Imaginary Kindergarten to suggest some ways that Kindergarteners and Cubism could be brought together. The first objective is to show the students the similarity between their world and the world as Braque saw it. The second objective is to validate the students’ drawings of their world view with the painting of an artist such as Braque. Hopefully, this will stimulate the student’s immangination and creativity, and begin to build a base of confidence and understanding that their drawings of how the world looks to them are more than just childish scribbles. Obviously, gaining this confidence and understanding is a long process, and what we are suggesting is but a first step. But, it is fun!
Each one of the numbered items below can be the basis of a lesson plan. The lessons would be spread out and not attempted in one lesson or one day. Perhaps one lesson can be done each week so that the student has time to absorb the concepts. The lessons could be presented as a unit. In the hands of a skilled teacher, much more could be done such as creating interesting hands-on projects and guiding stimulating discussions.
The teacher could begin by showing the class the short video above, with questions afterword asking the students what they thought was. happening in the video. This could produce some interesting observations as many of the students encounter Cubism for the first time. The discussion could take on a life of its own.
Isn’t this what Braque’s Cubism is? If so, couldn’t a kindergartener learn a great deal about using colors and shapes from Braque?
Also, a kindergartner can be asked to find the shapes and colors in the Braque painting above. It would be great to hear a student exclaim, “Hey, he draws houses just like I do!” This experience frees the student’s imagination from the rules and rebukes that stifle creativity. It also introduces fine art to the students at an early age.
2. The kindergartener uses blocks, cut in squares, rectangles, and triangles to construct things such as houses, towers, and boats to represent reality. Isn’t this what Braque did? In an article in the Financial Times by Jackie Wullschlager, she explains Braque’s work,
By 1908 Braque … was editing his … views to exclude detail and build multifaceted compositions of prisms, triangles, diagonals. The compacted, monochrome stacks of “Maisons à L’Estaque” comprise the first cubist landscape – centrepiece at Braque’s inaugural solo show, where a critic, disparaging the “little cubes”, launched cubism.</blockquote<
3. A kindergarten child knows about representations, one thing representing another, such as a feather and bird, a heart and love, their own drawings oif their family representing their real family. In this context, both their drawing and their real family are real.
Here is Giocometti, as quoted by Jackie Wullschlager,
“How to speak about the sensation provoked in me by the vertical, slightly out of kilter vase and flowers on a grey ground?” … “I have made a great discovery. I no longer believe in anything. Objects don’t exist for me except in so far as a rapport exists between them or between them and myself. When one reaches this harmony, one reaches a sort of intellectual non-existence … Life then becomes a perpetual revelation.”
4. Lastly, collage, i.e. “pasting stuff onto stuff,” is something a kindergartner not only does, but understands. Wullschlager again,“In 1912 Braque [began] pasting strips of faux bois wallpaper, simulating woodgrain, he suggested a table in a composition depicting a fruit bowl and glass. “Compotier et Verre” was the first papier collé.” [glued paper]AND NOW, BRAQUE FOR ALLDon’t worry that the dialogue is in French. Just look at the pictures.
Also, a great slideshow of Braque’s work can be found at Vogue.it
The simple kindergarten exercise above demonstrates that appreciating fine art is not, and should not be the exclusive preserve of the educated elite. Everyone, including the kindergartner, can understand and appreciate art in its many forms and presentations.