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Today I’m going to share with you an art experience my students had related to contemporary artist Frank Stella. Stella has a long career working as an artist and his artwork goes back to the 60’s and 70’s and continues up to the present day.
Frank Stella is AH-MAZING! I have always loved his layered and colorful prints. There was a retrospective exhibit of his prints at the local contemporary art museum and I took my 5th and 6th grade students to see his artwork. There is so much that students can learn and discuss about his artwork.
Objectives and Goals:
- Learn about a contemporary artist.
- Discuss and learn about the progression and evolution of an artist’s style.
- See examples of artwork in a series.
- Understand what abstract art means.
- See examples of how abstract artists get ideas for their work. (for example, Stella’s Moby Dick series)
- Visit a museum.
- Use new tools such as a French curve and protractor.
- Create an abstract artwork inspired by the art of Frank Stella.
We had docents lead us around in groups to discuss his life, techniques and evolution of his art style. His artwork has changed over time and he has been very influential to other abstract artists. One of the docents called him the “rock star of the art world”.
One of the things that is easily seen by young kids is his use of protractors and architectural drawing tools such as french curves and flexible curves. Learn about his protractor series!
By using this Powerpoint presentation about his art, we discussed many of his different series and techniques. We talked about what abstract art is and how abstract artists get their ideas. The students made some sketches at the museum. Some of the kids finished their sketches into beautiful artworks. (We were in the middle of another project so not all had time to make an abstract artwork.)
- French Curves
- I did have a Flexible Curve, which is a really cool tool. However, I ended up having to take it away because the kids kept swinging it around and tried to whip each other with it. They liked to play with it more than using it and someone was too rough and ripped the rubber so the wire is coming out. I would not order this supply unless you have older kids who can resist playing with it.
There is a lot of depth one can go into while learning about Stella’s work. We discussed his exotic bird series and the students came up with ideas of why they think Stella named the pictures after exotic birds he saw in India. What about them is bird-like?
I really liked the student work below. Frank Stella created the picture on the left, inspired by a race track in France. My student was drawn to the artwork and created his own race track painting inspired by Stella.
Additional Activities You May Be Interested In
- “My Abstract Sketchbook” $4.00
- Kandinsky’s Abstract Art blog post
- Abstract paintings by Shinique Smith blog post
- Inspired by Justin Vining, Abstract Whimsical Landscapes
- Abstract Art by Joan Miro