Visual Arts: Marc Chagall / Magic Realism

Grade level: 3-12
Duration: Three -1 hour classes
Media Type: tempera paint
Subject Integration: Science
National Standards for Visual Arts: (see bottom of page)
Objectives: Students will study and respond to works of art by Marc Chagall and create their own surrealistic paintings.

(website for help with writing rubrics)


4 - Standards are exceeded
3 - Standards are met
2 - Standards may be met at a very low quality or with some exceptions
1 - Standards are not met or work is not attempted or very poorly done


  • Surrealism
  • Color
  • Shape
  • Line
  • Texture
  • Value
  • Placement
  • Symbolism
  • Dreamlike

Materials and Procedure:

  • 12”x18” white paper or stretched canvases, depending on availability
  • Pencils for sketching out ideas/name on paper
  • Tempera paint: primary colors, red, yellow, blue + white, black
  • Paintbrushes
  • Water, water containers

Day 1:
Students will view many artworks by artist, Marc Chagall. See “Discussion Questions” below. Students will be asked various questions about his work and respond with thoughts/feelings/ideas. The beauty of children responding to artwork is their creative, unequivocal responses! Children will see things in artworks that adults often miss. Some background on Marc Chagall can be shared: He was born in Russia, one of nine children, his father was a herring merchant, and his mother sold groceries from their home. Marc was born June
24, 1887, and died on March 28, 1985. He lived to be 98 years old! Marc Chagall also created stained glass pieces. Many can be found at the Chicago Art Institute. Marc’s surrealistic work can be compared to Duluth artist, Wendy Rouse. Wendy is a very talented artist, teacher from Duluth who calls her own work “Magic Realism”.

Show PlayList video about Wendy Rouse and her work. Discuss.

Wendy Rouse's Magic Realism (2:11)

Wendy has a very calm approach to her paintings. She describes her pieces well and her style speaks to all ages. Showing this short clip enables students to see an artist in action before creating their own “Magic Realism” piece of artwork.

After viewing Wendy’s video clip, students will start to sketch out ideas for their own surrealistic paintings. Conversations will continue about dreamlike images, bright colors, where to place items on the paper, etc.

Day 2:
Students will continue sketching, and begin painting.

Day 3:
Student will complete their surrealistic/magic realism painting.

Discussion Questions:
“What do you see?” “What is March Chagall trying to express to his audience?” “Why do you think he chose those colors?” “Do you see anything in his work that appears to be magical or an irrational juxtaposition of people or images?”



  • Marc Chagall: 1887-1985: Painting as Poetry by Ingo F. Walther
  • Getting to Know the Worlds Greatest Artists: Marc Chagall by Mike Venizia
  • I am Marc Chagall (Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers) by Bibma Landmann and Marc Chagall

National Standards for Visual Arts:

Content Standard #1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
Achievement Standard:
Students know the differences between materials, techniques, and processes. Students describe how different materials, techniques, and processes cause different responses. Students use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories. Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner.

Content Standard #2: Using knowledge of structures and functions
Achievement Standard:
Students know the differences among visual characteristics and purposes of art in order to convey ideas. Students describe how different expressive features and organizational principles cause different responses. Students use visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas.

Content Standard #3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas
Achievement Standard:
Students explore and understand prospective content for works of art. Students select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

Content Standard #4: Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures
Achievement Standard:
Students know that the visual arts have both a history and specific relationships to various cultures. Students identify specific works of art as belonging to particular cultures, times, and places. Students demonstrate how history, culture, and the visual arts can influence each other in making and studying works of art.

Content Standard #5: Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others
Achievement Standard:
Students understand there are various purposes for creating works of visual art.
Students describe how people's experiences influence the development of specific artworks. Students understand there are different responses to specific artworks.

Content Standard #6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
Achievement Standard:
Students understand and use similarities and differences between characteristics of the visual arts and other arts disciplines. Students identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum.

Funding for this program is provided by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Click here for more information or visit the Minnesota Legacy website.

Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment