Today we used the book What’s the Big Idea?: Activities and Adventures in Abstract Art by Joyce Raimondo to examine another of Matisse’s cut-paper collages, Les Codomas. The books in this series (Art Explorers) include great discussion questions that encourage the reader to closely examine the works shown and think about the choices the artist made. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions; it’s the pondering that’s important. We decided that the yellow “squiggles” are acrobats performing on the blue and white trapezes, the black squares are the safety net below them, and the shapes in the border represent circus clowns. Of course, your interpretation may differ! This is another collage from Matisse’s book Jazz.
The next two pages in the book offer step-by-step instructions for creating cut-outs like Matisse (including a list of supplies needed), explains positive and negative space, and shows examples of collages created by kids. The book uses color-blocking and labels to divide its pages into sections so that the large amount of information presented doesn’t overwhelm the reader. This is the format used for each type of art in every book in the series; it’s just a happy coincidence that it echoes the elements of a Matisse collage!
We then watched a brief video clip on the Elements and Principles of Design that shows an artist laying out a collage and discussing organic shapes vs. geometric shapes. He shows us Matisse’s Les Betes de la Mer, also from the book Jazz, and draws our attention to the way the artist used these shapes in its creation.
Here are some of the pieces we’ve created using what we’ve learned so far. (And yes, we did listen to jazz while we worked. We even discovered a new favorite, Topsy by Count Basie!)
Book used today:
What’s the Big Idea?: Activities and Adventures in Abstract Art by Joyce Raimondo