Analyze a Composition
A guided discussion of a nonobjective work of art can help students understand the kinds of judgments artists make as they create. In order to describe the differences and similarities among lines, shapes, textures, colors and values, children and teachers alike must use descriptive adjectives and adverbs to describe the positions, directions, subtleties and effects of the art elements they see.
Wassily Kandinsky, Untitled (Drawing for “Diagram 17”), 1925. Black ink on ivory paper. Courtesy of the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, MA. C2005 Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York/ADAGP, Paris
Initiate a discussion by asking questions such as the following:
- Can you point out and describe the lines that you see in this drawing?
- What lines and shapes repeat? What effect does this have? (Repetitions are pleasing and tend to unify a composition. They can be a pathway through a work of art.)
- Can you describe the ways in which the repeated lines and shapes differ from each other? (length, direction, thickness, solid, open…)
- Why do you think the artist made them different? (Differences create contrast and variety, making compositions more interesting .)
- Are there any lines that do not repeat?
*The artist who created this carefully balanced composition is credited with inventing a revolutionary new form of art known as nonobjective art. Nonobjective art is an arrangement of pure lines and shapes that have no recognizable subject matter. Kandinsky believed that lines, shapes , and other elements of art could be used as symbols to communicate.