Magazine article Arts & Activities

Wassily Kandinsky

Magazine article Arts & Activities

Wassily Kandinsky

Article excerpt

Kandinsky (1866-1944) was born in Moscow to a wealthy family. He studied law and was on track to becoming a university professor, but at age 30, he opted to instead focus all of his attention on painting. Painting was a deeply spiritual act to him and he believed art came from an intense, inner need to visually portray universal human emotions. Many of his works capture mysterious musical or mathematical qualities, reflecting his profound love of music.

Below are ideas for integrating Kandinsky's 1913 painting, "Squares with Concentric Circles" (, with other subjects. Before embarking on them, introduce students to the artist and his work. Get younger pupils to respond to what they see with such sentence starters as, "I see ..." and "I think ..." Ask older students, "What excites you about this piece?" and "What concerns you?" As they speak, encourage them to use visual-art vocabulary.

(1) DRAWING CONCENTRIC CIRCLES IN SQUARES Have students fold a sheet of paper into halves progressively, so when it is unfolded there are a series of squares. Have them draw concentric circles in each square. Either designate how many to draw in each square or let them choose. If you designate how many, differentiate by having some students draw a fixed number (e.g. three circles in each square), while others follow a formula (such as three squares should have between four and six circles, or finding the amount of circles for each square by solving for x in x-3=2). Differentiating in this way ensures students are challenged appropriately according to their individual needs and that each task is developmentally appropriate. Teach art vocabulary appropriate to your grade level especially line, shape, and color vocabulary.

(2) ADDING COLOR AND DETAILS Students can add color to their circles using a variety of materials such as crayons, markers, watercolors, oil pastels, etc. This is a great project for teaching color theory. If the paper has six squares, the students can focus on neutral colors for two squares, warm colors for two squares, and cool colors for two squares. This can be adjusted according to how many squares the paper has and can even incorporate monochromatic colors or tints and shades. Use detailer writers to add a thick line of black tempera around the circles.

(3) MEASUREMENT AND DATA Students can measure their circles to find diameter and circumference, then work with the data they gathered from this in several ways. They can create stem and leaf plots or bar graphs, put the measurements in order from least to greatest and greatest to least, plot the points on a number line, and create dot plots. After the groups have worked with their own data, have them write questions for another group to answer by looking at their work. Older students can convert measurements within a given measurement system or mixed measurement systems.

(4) HAIKU WRITING PATTERNS, AND SYLLABICATION Another take on the art-making can lead to a haiku writing unit. …

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