Still Life With Lemons and Pipe, 1924 Lithograph
Still Life With Lemons and Pipe, 1924 Lithograph


Artists highlighted:

Overview: Students will learn about contrast in art works and view examples of works that utilize the concept of contrast through color, line, and shape.  They will learn how to effectively define and identify contrast in art. They will view, analyze, and discuss works of art by different artists from different time periods and learn about the history behind each work of art and its artist.

Age Group: Grades 6-12

State Standards:

Visual Arts

Standard 1: Students perceive and respond to works of art, objects in nature, events, and the environment.  They also use the vocabulary of the visual arts to express their observations.

Standard 2: Students apply artistic processes and skills, using a variety of media to communicate meaning and intent in original works of art.

Standard 3: Students analyze the role and development of the visual arts in past and present cultures throughout the world, noting human diversity as it relates to the visual arts and artists.

Length of Lesson:

Approximately one 60 minute lesson


Students will be able to:

  • Define the following terms: line, shape, color, contrast
  • Analyze a work of art in terms of the artist’s use of the elements of line, shape, color, and contrast
  • Relate cultural influences and historical elements to the artwork that they view


  • Examples of works of art that exemplify contrast
  • Paper and pencil for notes/reflection 


  • Review the terms line, shape, color
  • Discuss the definition of contrast: A principle of art that refers to the arrangement of opposite elements (light vs. dark colors, rough vs. smooth textures, large vs. small shapes, etc.) in a piece so as to create visual interest, excitement and drama.
  • Show the following works:

  • Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) Jacqueline Married, c. 1961
    • One of the most revolutionary/productive artists of all time; Spanish artist with great range
    • Father was an art teacher who recognized his son’s immense talent and at the age of only 14 Picasso gained entrance into the Barcelona School of Fine Arts
    • Early 1900s moved to Paris (artistic epicenter of the time) and became friends with other famous artists
    • Cubism only one of many artistic movements that he spearheaded, though it is perhaps the one he is best known for
    • Quite the character- outspoken, cocky, but an artistic genius nonetheless
    • Worked in a wide range of mediums: painting, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics and never stuck to one style for too long
    • Women were his favorite subjects- Jacqueline (his last wife) depicted

  • Jean-Pierre Vasarely Yvaral (1934-2002) Star (Marilyn Monroe), c. 1990

    • French optical artist whose father Victor Vasarely founded the optical art movement
    • 1975 – coined the phrase “Numerical Art” – art programmed according to numerical law (math incorporated into artwork)
    • Used computers to digitally process/manipulate images
    • Yvaral was fascinated with ideas of celebrity/popular/famous imagery

      • Mona Lisa, JFK, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln another image that he commonly addressed
      • This work exemplifies one of his favorite subjects- created many works of different portraits of her amongst this is one example
      • Optical illusions (magic)

  • Joan Miró (1893-1983) Untitled, 1954

    • Spanish Surrealist Artist

      • Surrealism: paint ideas buried deep in your minds (subconscious).  Works don’t have to make sense (imaginary/fantastical); this is why many surrealist works look like something from a dream

        • Poets/writers initiated this art movement which then spread to the visual arts

          • Initially studied business, but after suffering a nervous breakdown, he turned to art
          • Miró is known for his childlike, playful imagery
          • Often created art to accompany poetry/written words

  • René Magritte (1898 – 1967) Dominion of Lights, c. 1950

    • Born in 1898 in Belgium
    • Attended art school in Brussels to seek inspiration/partially to escape the WWI invasion
    • In 1924, Magritte became associated with Surrealists- became one of the greatest Surrealist artists of all time
    • Magritte’s version of Surrealism

      • Witty/thought provoking images
      • Challenged our preconditioned thoughts of reality
      • Places ordinary objects in an unusual context
      • Gives new meaning to familiar things

  • Georges Braque (1882-1963) Still Life with Lemons, c. 1960

    • French artist best known for developing Cubism with Picasso (often said that the two painted side by side and that their works were so similar one could barely tell them apart)
    • Started as a house painter/decorator
    • Fought in WWI-Braque enlisted in French army and  suffered a head injury
    • Initially focused on landscapes but interest shifted towards still life works

      • Still life- emphasizes structure
      • Tactile element- can touch and move/around subject

        • Simultaneous perspective (view from many different angles at once) and fragmentation (breaking apart of the subject)

  • Fernand Leger (1881 – 1955) Still Life with Fruit, 1948

    • Later figure in the Cubism movement
    • Fought in WWI where he was injured (gassed) – greatly affected Leger
    • During the war met men of different social classes/walks of life-changed his outlook on his own life
    • Greatly influenced by modern urban and technological culture
    • Machinery, construction, the working class- common themes

      • Characterized by tubular, fractured forms, cones, cylinders, and cubes- nicknamed “The Tubist” instead of “Cubist”
      • Fact: Taught at Mills College during WWII

  • For each work, provide brief background information on the artist, the time period, and the artistic style
  • Continue with questions such as the following:

    • What do you think is going on in this image? What do you see that makes you say that?
    • How does the artist use elements of line, shape, and color to convey this image?
    • Where do you see contrast within this work? What type of contrast (color, line, etc.)?
    • Do you like this piece? Why or why not





Pablo Picasso

Jacqueline Married



Star (Marilyn Monroe)


Joan Miro



Rene Magritte

The Dominion of Lights


Georges Braque

Still Life with Lemons


Fernand Leger

Still Life with