Using one of five Picasso artworks representing his many inventive art styles, students will respond with writing and drawing to create a collage. The collage will fragment Picasso’s original perspective and the student’s personal interpretation and viewpoint to create a multi-perspective, cubist-inspired composition.
Students will deconstruct and analyze Picasso’s art using both visual art vocabulary (elements and principles of art) and perspective-based writing approaches. Students will interpret, compare, and contrast diverse perspectives and derive meaning.
Students will emulate Picasso’s bold and fearless risk-taking in art and will open their minds to new ways of viewing multiple perspectives— both literally, by looking at modern art, and by deriving meaning from works of art.
During the process of art- and story-making students will explore and imagine how artists create and change reality. In their own artwork they will experiment with adding diff¬erent viewpoints and multiple perspectives while fracturing planes at the same time.
- class set of five Picasso curriculum postcards
- writing paper and pencil
- Appendix A: Compare and Contrast Picasso’s Art (one copy per student)
- class set of enlarged photocopies of postcards (8 ½ x 11 in.)
- drawing paper (8 ½ x 11 in.)
- black markers, oil pastels, and/or watercolors
- glue sticks
Additional Resources (Optional)
- Brief history of the artworks on the five curriculum postcards, which represent the broad range of art styles and innovations in Picasso’s long career. Highlight different perspectives, points of view, and influences for each image. Refer to the high school lesson for this information.
- Picasso’s cubist collages, from online sources
- art elements: texture, form, space, line, shape, color, value
- principles of design: balance, emphasis, movement, pattern, proportion, repetition, rhythm, variety, unity
- perspective, multiple perspective
- fragmented plane, shifting plane
- analytic cubism, synthetic cubism
- abstract art
Offer a brief description of Picasso as an innovative artist who changed the course of modern art with radical new approaches to perspective and proportion. From the first decade of the 20th century until his death in 1973, he not only created thousands of artworks but also more than one hundred poems, two full-length plays, and theater sets. He always offered surprise, creative imagination, and inventiveness in his works of art.
2. Looking at Picasso’s Work
Distribute the provided Picasso postcards to students, one per student. Students work in pairs, each with a different image. Have each examine the postcard that he or she received and complete one side of Appendix A: Compare and Contrast Picasso’s Art. Instruct students to use at least three art elements or principles of design in their analysis.
Students then collaborate in pairs to compare and contrast what they see in terms of the list of elements and design principles:
- What do you see?
- Describe the colors and how the colors make you feel (happy, anxious, etc.).
- Describe the shapes, lines, and angles. Are they curvilinear or geometric?
- Are there textures and patterns that repeat?
- Is there movement or rhythm?
- Does the image accurately represent, or does it depart from, visible reality?
Students work together to complete the sentence framework in the center of the Venn Diagram, using the similarities they discovered from both paintings.
3. Writing about Observations
Working individually, students next write a short story or poem about the Picasso artwork using some of the descriptions from the Venn Diagram. Stories and poems can come entirely from students’ imaginations, or they can take any of the following approaches:
- Write in the voice of Picasso.
- Write in the voice of the person or object depicted in the art.
- Describe the scene itself.
- Describe what you think is the history surrounding the image.
- What would you say if you could speak to Picasso?
- What is the hidden story behind the scene depicted in the painting?
- Describe why you think Picasso created this art piece.
- Students read their stories and poems aloud, and their classmates try to guess which of the postcard images the student used as inspiration.
- Have students do a gallery walk to learn about the other images studied in the class.
Explain to students that they are going to create a cubist collage inspired by their study of Picasso’s art and their written responses from Part 1.
2. Turning Words into Images
Prompt students to draw pictures that represent their written stories or poems about Picasso’s art. They can use any style of their choosing. Color with oil pastel, or outline with black marker and color with watercolor paints.
Instruct students to fragment their drawings, using scissors to cut four to six diagonal and straight incisions across the drawing.
3. Playing with Cubism
Now taking the enlarged photocopies of the Picasso postcard images they used as inspiration in Part 1, students place the pieces from their own drawings on top of the Picasso photocopies. Instruct students to experiment with arranging the fragments to display shifting perspectives and surprising angles next to or overlapping each other. Once they find the composition they prefer, they then glue down the pieces.
Students may further color and shade their collages after gluing down all pieces. They may also add some of their written words or sentences to the collages.
Their combined art collages should have fractured planes and multiple perspectives, including their own reinterpretations, of the Picasso artworks.
Students create a collage, combining photographs of themselves with their alter egos or family members. This activity can be used as a follow-up or as an alternative to Part 2 of the lesson plan.
- yearbook photos, class pictures, or mirrors
- one image of student’s family member of alter ego (second self: cartoon character, animal, celebrity, person student admires, etc.)
- glue, glue stick
- drawing paper
- heavy paper or card stock if available
- pastels or oil pastels, or marker and watercolor paints
- images of Picasso’s self-portraits
- reproduction of Picasso’s Paul as Harlequin
- Appendix B: Alter Ego Journal (one for each student)
- multiple perspectives
- shifting plane
- alter ego
Advise students that they are going to make a cubist alter ego self-portrait inspired by Picasso. Give a brief overview of Picasso and how he is one of the most influential and imaginative artists in the 20th century, credited with creating many styles of modern art. In many of Picasso’s works, he represents himself, either as an obvious self-portrait or symbolically disguised using an alter ego, such as Harlequin or the bull. Show images of Picasso’s cubist artworks and collages.
Discuss this description of Paul as Harlequin from the de Young audio guide:
“In this enchanting portrait, Picasso transfers his alter ego—Harlequin—to his three-year-old son. Picasso leaves the canvas unfinished so that the boy’s figure and the chair against which he leans seem like decals against the background.”
What do you see? What do you feel and why? Guide students to look at what colors were used and at the composition and unfinished background. What does Harlequin represent, what is Picasso’s relationship with his son?
2. Pass out Appendix B: Alter Ego Journal.
An alter ego (Latin, "the other I") is a second self, a second personality within a person, who is often oblivious to the alter ego’s actions. A person with an alter ego is said to lead a double life.
Students can describe their own alter ego: a family member, book character, cartoon character, superhero, animal, object, etc. See these examples:
Eminem /Slim Shady/Marshall Mathers
Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus
Lady Gaga/Stefani Germanotta
Fresh Prince/Will Smith
Borat/Ali G/Bruno/Sacha Baron Cohen
3. On a sheet of 8 ½ x 11 in. paper, have each student draw a full-color image of his or her alter ego.
4. On another sheet of 8 ½ x 11 paper, have each student draw a full-color self-portrait.
5. Students then cut both drawings up at least in three places. These cuts can be angled or straight.
6. Each student then combines all of the pieces from both drawings together, gluing them down onto construction paper in any arrangement they wish, creating a cubist alter ego self-portrait with two perspectives of themselves, in fractured planes.
Writing Strategies 1.1, 1.2
Artistic Perception: 1.0, 1.1, 1.2
Creative Expression: 2.0
Writing Strategies: 1.1, 1.2
Writing Applications: 2.1
Artistic Perception: 1.0, 1.1
Creative Expression: 2.0, 2.5
Writing Strategies: 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3
Writing Applications: 2.1
Artistic Perception: 1.0, 1.1