Lesson: Recognizing Geometric Shapes - Miro & Calder

This lesson provides students with an exploration of plane and solid shapes and objects based on Joan Miro's Mural for the Terrace Plaza Hotel, Cincinnati, and Alexander Calder's Twenty Leaves and an Apple. Students will identify, describe, compare and sort two- and three-dimensional objects. Students will explore the differences between geometric and organic shapes.

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Joan Miro (1893-1983)

Mural for the Terrace Plaza HotelSpain

Mural for the Terrace Plaza Hotel, Cincinnati, 1947

Oil on canvas

102 x 368-1/4 in.

Gift of Thomas Emery's Sons, Inc., 1965.514

Joan Miro, a Spanish Surrealist, made his first trip to the United States in 1947 in order to look at the Cincinnati site where his newly commissioned mural would reside. Although this was his first trip to America, the Museum of Modern Art in New York had held a retrospective of Miro's paintings six years prior, which had brought great interest in his work. Miro worked with a variety of mediums such as sculpture, murals, prints and easel sized- paintings. Often times, his work was made with bright colors, whimsical lines, and organic shapes.

The Mural for the Terrace Plaza Hotel, Cincinnati displays the same lighthearted whimsical style he is so well known for in his art. Though created in New York at Carl Holty's studio, it was commissioned for a circular Gourmet Restaurant in the Terrace Plaza Hotel in downtown Cincinnati. The 30-foot masterpiece made its debut at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and then journeyed to its new home where café customers enjoyed its many shapes and colors amidst the dynamic blue background. It now resides right outside of the Cincinnati Art Museum's café, where café visitors can still enjoy it.

Alexander Calder (1898-1976)

Twenty Leaves and an Apple

United States

Twenty Leaves and an Apple, 1946

Sheet metal and steel wire

Gift of Thomas Emery's Sons, Inc., 965.516

Born into a family of artists, Alexander Calder was encouraged to be creative from an early age. Although educated as an engineer, he made a commitment to art in 1923, thereby beginning a long and successful tenure as an artist. Living in New York, Calder found success and soon traveled to Berlin and Paris, making the trans-Atlantic trips often, befriending Miro, Mondrian, Duchamp and other influential artists along the way. Calder was quite inventive with his sculpture and is known as the first maker of mobiles, a truly kinetic art object.

Shortages during World War II encouraged the use of scrap metal and wood for many of Calder's works. The Cincinnati Art Museum's Twenty Leaves and an Apple is made from sheet metal and steel wire (piano wire) and was intended to be all black with the exception of the apple, which is red. The delicately balanced wire arms each hold another sculptural element and the entire sculpture, which is suspended from the ceiling, moves in accordance with the air currents below. This mobile was also displayed in the Terrace Plaza Hotel in downtown Cincinnati, just as Miro's Mural.

Vertices Partners

Cincinnati Art MuseumSouthwest Ohio Center for Excellence of Science and Mathematics Education