March 15, 2023

Abstract Art, Wagner, Museum Tips, and more

Activities and opportunities to see and enjoy more around you – for yourself and/or your students.

Abstract Art, Wagner, Museum Tips, and more


Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin (composed ~1848) by Richard Wagner


"Haystacks" (1891) by Claude Monet and Mouvement I (1935) by Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky is a Russian artist from the early 20th century and known as one of the first painters to experiment with abstract art. Some find it difficult to develop a relationship with abstract art because it can be so disorienting and confusing. Yet this is sometimes exactly the effect abstract pieces intend to create --they invite us to reconsider ordinary things and consider new associations and perspectives. As you observe Kandinsky's painting, notice the lines, colors, and textures, and images, and think about the kinds of feelings, questions, and/or ideas the piece evokes. Why do you think Kandinsky named the piece "Mouvement I"? Fun fact: the musical piece from Wagner and the art by Monet above were some of Kandinsky's favorite and influenced him greatly. Read more about Kandinsky here.

Read or Listen

"Perhaps the World Ends Here" by Joy Harjo

Drawing on the stories and history of her Muscogee (Creek) heritage, she often writes on themes of nature and remembrance in poems based in the Southwestern and Southeastern US and also Alaska and Hawaii. Named poet laureate for the US in 2019, Joy is also a saxophonist and vocalist. Listen to this poem of hers or read it aloud several times. What memories, feelings, or ideas does it bring to mind? What images of the kitchen table most strike you? Why? Reflect on the values and beliefs which create the kinds of experiences that Harjo describes? Share this poem with a friend.


“We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty.” ~Charlotte Mason, Home Education, p. 309

Picture study is a staple in a relational education, and it is fitting to take field trips to art museums to see ‘friends' (such as, perhaps, Kandinsky's "Mouvement I"), especially after studying them during a term. Here are a few tips to make these outings rich and enjoyable:

  • Plan ahead. Look at the museum’s website beforehand to decide which exhibits you want to see and plan your route accordingly. Involve your students in this process; ask them what they want to see!
  • Ask questions. Encourage your kids to ask about the artwork and the museum itself. Discuss light, shade, and texture in a painting or sculpture. What applications of proportion, perspective, and color do you see? Where do you see cylinders, cones, and ellipses? What is its texture? What type of mood does the piece evoke? When and where was it created? On what type of material? Who created it? What other events were happening in the world at the same time?
  • Make it a game. Create games or scavenger hunts to make the experience more fun. Have a child describe a painting in a gallery and have the others find it! 
  • Ask for a guide. Call ahead and ask if the museum offers docent-lead tours or any other resources for students – many do! Sometimes you can receive a group discount if you bring friends or classmates. An enthusiastic guide can make a museum visit even more impactful and engaging, especially for older students!
  • Plan to take a break. Bring snacks or enjoy the café at the museum. This will keep kids engaged. 
  • Bring a camera and/or art supplies. Take pictures of your kids with their favorite pieces or the entire exhibit. Ask them to sketch or journal about their favorite piece.
  • Above all, have fun! Art museums are beautiful places to have interesting conversations and create lasting memories.

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