Comparing compositions of two different artists is one of my favorite things about teaching art. I have posted before about this lesson, and it is such a good one I am happily posting again with this year's second graders. American painters Norman Rockwell and Jackson Pollock seem to have nothing in common - Rockwell was narrative with a skillful, realistic technique and Pollock, aka "Action Jackson" was an abstract expressionist bursting with energy and movement. Pollock died young and had a limited number of completed works, while Rockwell had a long career and many many works. However, they both were born in the early 1900's and lived in the northeastern part of the U.S.; they also worked in old barns converted to studios. They both painted on large canvases, although Pollock's were rolled on the floor and Rockwell's were painted on an easel.
Rockwell made a painting called The Connoisseur in 1962, showing an art critic or collector at a gallery, taking in a painting resembling the drippy, splattery style of Jackson Pollock. My second graders put themselves in the shoes of this art expert, posing in a thinking pose and shooting pics of each other for our renditions of this iconic image.
We tried out both artists' styles, first creating a Saturday Evening Post cover imitating Rockwell's Triple Self Portrait, 1960, and then working at a 4-part action painting station. Students shared their thoughts on which artist they preferred, and the majority said they liked both for their own unique qualities, making our "mash-ups" all the more meaningful.