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Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists: Michelangelo; Van Gogh; Rembrandt; Monet; Da Vinci; Warhol

(DVD series). Chicago’ www.getting toknow.com

Are you looking for videos that make art and history more accessible to your elemen¬≠tary students? These 6 DVDs may be the answer. Each video combines animation with examples of great art in a lighthearted, fast-paced manner that simultaneously entertains and informs young viewers. A colorful caricature of each featured artist will take your students on a journey that shares the story of the artist’s life, focuses on important aspects of his creative career, and ends with a slide show of his more significant works.

Students will gain an understanding of what can inspire their own art when they hear Rembrandt talk about how the movement of spokes on his windmill home created his interest in light and shadow (chiaroscuro) or how Andy Warhol incorporated things that were important or familiar in his everyday life into his Pop (popular) Art paintings. Students will hear Monet explain how painting outdoors allowed him to incorporate his Impressions of natural light, the seasons and time of day into his artistic works. Van Gogh will share his love for the thick application of paint, often squeezing it right from tubes onto his canvas, that allowed him to depict movement and gave life to his paintings (Starry Night).
Students will be intrigued by Michelangelo’s study of cadavers in an effort to help him render lifelike human forms when sculpting (Pieta) and painting (Sistine Chapel). Others with a love for science or math will be fascinated by daVinci’s sketches of inventions, his reversed handwriting, and the backgrounds of his paintings that featured realistically depicted scenes of nature (Mona Lisa).

Your students will be encouraged when artists describe the obstacles they had to overcome during their creative careers. Although daVinci loved to experiment with paints, his efforts were not always successful (The Last Supper). Michelangelo left many of his works unfinished, Rembrandt was poor during his later years, and van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime.

Elementary school students today are most comfortable absorbing visual and audio information through electronic media. These six videos may be the vehicle that helps your students gain an understanding how the works created by each of these individuals influenced the artists of their time and the generations that followed. Reviewed by Kim Huyler Defibaugh, Supervisor of Fine Arts K-12, Toms River Regional Schools, New Jersey.