Do you know who doesn’t wander around the art gallery with a snide look on their face remarking, “I could have done that”? Kids, that’s who. Kids have a natural and humble appreciation for art and artists and if we nurture it soon enough we may help our little ones continue to love art throughout their lives.
The great Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) was a feminist before the term was coined. She often painted glimpses into the private lives of women. Little girls, especially, might enjoy her work as it tells the story of how women and girls lived at the turn of the twentieth century.
No, not the Ninja Turtle, although in my house he, too, is considered a great master. Michelangelo (1475-1564) was a painter, sculptor, poet, and engineer. A total quadruple threat. In fact, I am willing to guess your kids already know a little about this prolific artist. Ask them who painted the Sistine Chapel? Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Vincent Van Gogh
Maybe, it’s just me, but I can’t get enough of this guy (1853-1890). It’s not the postcard worthy Starry Night or the renowned Sunflowers that gets me either. It’s the really dramatic life story. A pauper until he died, never knowing of his success and a little madness make Van Gogh a favorite to talk about in the classroom. (Disclaimer: The truth about VVG might be better held off until kids can manage his violent end–a self inflicted gun shot wound.)
Even though, that one time in college, when you actually made your way to Paris to see The Mona Lisa, you were disappointed because it was so small, it doesn’t change that fact this artist (1452-1519) might be the greatest painter of all time. When you are explaining this to your kids you could say something like: “He’s the LeBron James of Painting”. Who wouldn’t want to check out the LeBron James of painting? Right?!
It’s not all about the brush. Photojournalist Lange (1898-1965), who is probably most recognizable for her image The Migrant Mother, was a depression era photographer who made a name for herself when she shot the most iconic image of the Depression era.
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) may have led a somewhat volatile and lonely life but she produced some of the most intriguing surreal art of her generation. While, Frida herself would likely scoff at the surreal label, her work has long since been characterized by her dreamy self-portaits.
The great Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). There is hardly a more recognizable name or style in the art world. For many, his cubist works can cause some serious eyebrow raising. Kids are more patient with Picasso and recognize his genius much before adults can. In fact, one of my favorite lessons to teach is the Picasso self-portait because kids adore rearranging the features of their face in a painting.
These seven artists will get your kids started but there are copious amounts of extremely talented artists to discover. Who knows, maybe you’re raising one right now.