Masterpiece Cards with Young Children2017-09-15T13:13:18-04:00

Using Masterpiece Cards with Young Children

Is art history integral to education? While it may seem intuitively and obviously so, it wasn’t until 2005 that the questions was substantively addressed by The Wallace Foundation.   Its landmark research study, “Gifts of the Muse“, concluded that “early exposure is often key to developing life-long involvement in the arts.”

So what are we waiting for? Here are ways to use the Cards to trigger “early exposure”:

Jacques-Louis David, Napoleon at St. Bernard Pass. Oil on canvas, 1800.  8' x 7' 7".  Musee National du Chateau de Versailles.

Jacques-Louis David, Napoleon at St. Bernard Pass. Oil on canvas, 1800.  8′ x 7′ 7″.  Musee National du Chateau de Versailles.

Introduce the language of art. Choose a subset of Cards to teach basics like form, line and value.

Matching. Hand a child a dozen or so Cards. Place one sample Card on the table, and ask her to select one of her paintings that matches in some way. The match may be color, shape of an object (i.e. both paintings have rectangles), mood, subject matter, etc. This gets children thinking about the compositional elements by which paintings are understood and discussed.

Preview art museums. Use the color-coded band to determine which famous paintings await. Read the art review of each, and discuss the painting with your child. When you see it on-site, it will be an old friend, not a new acquaintance!

Design a treasure hunt. Set out on a treasure hunt to find Masterpiece Cards paintings in your museum – inadvertently your child will be looking at oodles of paintings. Take the Cards with you (they slide perfectly into a Ziplock bag). I’ll never forget my five year old son breathlessly bursting into a Museum of Fine Arts room and exclaiming, “THERE are Van Gogh’s haystacks!”

Introduce art movements. Arrange a large group of Cards chronologically. Challenge your child (or artist) to identify similarities among paintings completed in the same timespan, and trends among paintings over time. How have the subject matter, palette, and imagery evolved?

Explore art movements in depth. Tackle an era like Cubism, and observe similarities and differences among its proponents such as Picasso, Braque, Duchamp, Boccioni, and Malevich. Your children don’t need to know names… but they’ll absorb the visual information.