Description of the Unit –
Students delve into a particular period of Paul Klee’s art, the “Magic Square” series. Students use their observations of Klee’s work to create their own cityscape in oil pastels, focusing primarily on geometric shapes and using one tone of color dotted with its complementary color.
Activity statement –
Paul Klee’s paintings have fascinated me ever since I was a child. I think it had to do with the captivating way in which he juxtaposes vibrant complementary colors while using shape and geometry in a way that seemed accessible to my childlike sensibilities. When I my students first observe Klee’s art, they exhibit the same wonder and attraction I felt so many years ago.
In Paul Klee’s “Magic Square” series, Klee creates cityscapes that use a rhythmic repetition of mostly geometric lines and shapes, in colors that either trend towards the mostly cool or mostly warm. The resulting composition is balanced, harmonious and abstracted. We will observe and discuss these characteristics, especially how Klee’s use of shape and color affect pattern, balance and rhythm. I’ll ask students questions about their observations, and how they might approach a magic square design of their own.
Goals – Students should…
- What warm colors and cool colors are
- The difference between organic and geometric shapes
- The meaning of rhythm in a composition
- What it means when a composition is considered ‘balanced’
- The meaning of the term abstract
Be able to:
- Create a composition of mostly geometric shapes to imply buildings
- Create a composition with mostly one tone of color (warm or cool)
Objectives – Students will:
- Explore Paul Klee’s Magic Square series
- Discuss what they observe
- Discuss terms important for understanding such as abstract, balance and rhythm
- Apply their understanding of the terms discussed to create their own ‘cityscape’
Resources and materials –
- Diverse examples of Paul Klee’s Magic Square paintings
- 12×18 construction paper in a range of colors
- Oil pastels
- What shapes do you see?
- What does this painting mostly have, warm or cool colors?
- What colors are contrasting? What do you think about the colors in these works of art?
- What kinds of real-life objects do the shapes imply? Is this painting realistic? Why or why not?
- Do you see any patterns?
- What do you notice is the same on the right side as the left side? What is different? Are the sides mostly symmetrical?
- What do you notice is the same on the bottom part of the painting as the top? What is different?
- Do you notice any repetition?
Evaluation – Did students:
- Understand the difference between warm and cool colors?
- Recognize geometric shapes?
- Understand the use of repetition and balance?
- Create their own ‘cityscape’ employing these elements and principles?
- Student questions
- Group discussions
- Oral responses to essential questions
- At least one finished piece