Our Ten Favorite Artists to Introduce to Preschoolers

Eliza Clark
June 19, 2016

The sun is beginning to come out, spring break will be here soon, and a trip to a museum might be a fun way to spend an afternoon with your preschooler, don't you think?  It doesn't have to be as high-falutin' as it sounds. Most fine art museums have sections just for the little ones, chock full of educational tips and pint-sized ways to get our little ones thinking about Art. And once your child is old enough to remember and respect the all important museum rule (Don't touch the art!), you can venture out into the galleries themselves. 

With all this in mind, we asked ourselves: if we were to make a list of the ten best artists to introduce to our preschoolers, who would be on it? Which artists would capture our little ones' imaginations, make them curious, inspire them, make them laugh, puzzle, wonder?

Here it is—biased, we readily admit, by our own idiosyncratic tastes. But a list has to start somewhere, right?

Raphael - For sheer beauty, for his gorgeous Madonnas, and especially for his Lady with a Unicorn and his St. George and the Dragon.

Paul Cezanne - For his still lives. Do you have a bowl of fruit in your kitchen? Would your little artist like to make a painting of it? (p.s. See the Metropolitan Museum of Art's wonderful online presentation for children, Cezanne's Astonishing Apples.)

Edgar Degas - For his beautiful dancers. What little ballerina wouldn't fall in love? (Don't miss another of the Met's fantastic online tools for kids: The Dancers and Degas.)

Mary Cassatt - Because she painted ordinary mothers and children. A child waking from a nap, for instance, or having a drink of water. Cassatt thought these moments were worth representing—no one agrees more than we do.

Henri Matisse - For showing us how amazing cutouts and collage can be. And for his colors. And so much more.

Marc Chagall - Because he painted dreams, and people flying, and even a birthday party.

Amedeo Modigliani - For his strange, abstracted portraits, including some of children. Which might inspire a bit of portraiture from our small ones.

Georgia O'Keeffe - For the way she looked at the natural world, and especially flowers. Really looked at them—just as our little ones do if we let them.

Alexander Calder - Because his mobiles and his circus sculptures are sure to enchant any kid (be sure to watch the film of Calder operating "Cirque Calder"). See what you can make with a little wire!

Jeff Koons - For his giant puppy made of flowering plants. What preschooler wouldn't love that?

From the Parents

  • Paula Bonesteel

    Could you please correct your links? I wanted to post on our facebook page in regards to an art appreciation class we are starting, so parents could link to information. No more 404s :) http://sunshinehouseca.com

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 1

    I could not read the link for bedtime board books from the first poster, since part of it is obscured, however, I think she may be referring to the Touch the Art series. These board books are great for introducing even a 2 year old to fine art since they are very touch-oriented. Brush Mona Lisa's Hair, for instance, which is one of the books in the series, allows kids to literally brush Mona Lisa's hair while introducing them to a world-famous painting. They can indulge in more hair styling with Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, among others.

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 2

    There's a great series of bedtime board books with poems and classic art images, published by Chronicle books. We have almost all of them, and my kids love them: http://www.chroniclebooks.com/index/main,search-result/?main_page=pubs_advanced_search_result&store=books&store_type=books&search_in_description=0&keyword=merberg

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 3

    You've got Raphael, but what about Donatello, Michaelangelo and Leonardo!

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 4

    I love to show my kids the paintings of Grandma Moses. We make up stories about what is happening in the beautiful towns that she painted.

    over a year ago


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