News As Art

The National Gallery of Art exhibit, Shock of the News, is the inspiration for this Washington Post NIE curriculum guide. The show exhibited works of artists who incorporated newspapers in their compositions — from Pablo Picasso’s use in 1912 of a fragment of a newspaper. The suggested art activities span the sections of The Washington Post and the variety of mediums found in the National Gallery of Art’s exhibit. The projects can be assigned in many disciplines and all grade levels. 
Primary Disciplines 
Download Classroom Worksheets (PDF) 

The daily Washington Post is one of the best values available to consumers. Readers are informed of local, national and international news, culture and athletics. They learn about consumer products on sale, get coupons for savings and pick up tips to do-it-yourself. Daily the newspaper encourages readers to analyze, evaluate, interact and make their own decisions. In the holiday season, for birthdays and just for pleasure, it inspires readers to create — as a source of ideas and the canvas and material from which to form a work of art. 

The National Gallery of Art exhibit, Shock of the News, is the inspiration for this Washington Post NIE curriculum guide. The September 2012-January 2013 show exhibited works of artists who incorporated newspapers in their compositions — from Pablo Picasso’s use in 1912 of a fragment of a newspaper through American and European works over the next 100 years.

The suggested art activities in this curriculum guide span the sections of The Washington Post and the variety of mediums found in the National Gallery of Art’s exhibit. The projects can be assigned in many disciplines. So read The Washington Post then fold, cut, tear, paint over, and weave it.



December 2012

Resource Graphic 

Study Vocabulary
Art, English, Journalism, Social Studies, U.S. History

Whether your students are studying and creating art, or writing about art, or viewing art as a reflection of a society, they need to know the correct art terms. Review the terms from “art” and “collage” to “warp” and “weft” in In the Know. Expect students to use these terms.


Describe the Art in News
Art, Journalism

Before beginning an art project that is based upon the ones described in the KidsPost article, “The art of the news: The National Gallery shows how artists have transformed newspapers. You can do the same,” view the online art gallery of nine works from the National Gallery of Art exhibit.

Ask students to describe what they see. With what elements is each project made? Use art terms to distinguish the different techniques used. Questions that might be included:
• What does the newspaper component add to the artwork?
• Does it provide balance to the composition?
• Does it play on words?
• Does it re-enforce a concept?

Read and discuss “The art of the news.”


Put a Face to the News
All Disciplines

Readers discover new interests as well as find articles about their current interests, world situations and culture. Use these pages to create a self-portrait. Austrian Dada artist Raoul Hausmann, a leader in the photomontage, is included in the Smithsonian exhibit. His work, Salomo Friedlander (Mynona), 1919, and Head with Beard, 1949, by Ellsworth Kelly, are among the works in the exhibit that illustrate this assignment.

Kelly formed a self-portrait by cutting a newspaper page. He rotated the newsprint so its columns are sideways. Have students share what they discern about him when they view his self-portrait.

Students could be asked to select a page from The Washington Post that best reflects their interests or personality. From that page create the self-portrait. This could be achieved by cutting out to form the eyes, nose, mouth and ears. This could be done as a collage with shapes that reflect their interests cut from the pages of the newspaper to form facial features. Review News As Art How-to for suggested procedures and examples created by Washington, D.C., area students.


Shape a Sporty Papier-mache
Art, Physical Education

Talk with students about their favorite sports and athletic events. What equipment represents the sport? For example a baseball, bat and glove all represent baseball. Think of the shape and size of one of these objects. Students will make a papier-mache work of art of that item.

Show a picture of Dieter Roth’s Literaturwurst which looks like a sausage. In the sausage casing Roth used pieces of the Daily Mirror. Literaturwurst is the only papier-mache to use only newspaper; in others, he mixed spices with shredded pages from magazines and books he did not like or authors he wanted to prod.

Use the Sports section to create a papier-mache work of art. Find photographs and articles about sports. Set aside those which will be the outside layer images and words. These could be all from one sport or about sports information. For example, all the articles could be about a professional or college team, about high school sports, or scoreboard information. Or they could be about concussions and other sports-related health concerns. (See the Sports and the Health & Science sections of The Washington Post.) The articles and images could reflect the student's attitude toward the sport, a team or a player. These could be carefully cut out or torn out in the shape of a piece of sports equipment.

Review News As Art How-to for suggested procedures and examples created by Washington, D.C., area students.

Resource Graphic 

Connect With a Collage
Art, English, Journalism, Social Studies

News stories are found in all sections of the newspaper. For this project, ask students to turn their attention to the News and Metro, A and B, sections. What stories interest them? Cut out different stories. Students might be asked to emphasize:
• Top news stories of the week, creating a current events collage
• One topic/story told through news articles, editorials, commentary, photographs and editorial cartoons
• One issue covered in international, national, state and local news articles
• Headlines and lede paragraphs
• Headlines and photographs 

Students can decide whether to maintain clean, torn or burnt edges. To use entire articles or particular paragraphs. Organize the items in chronological order, overlapping to emphasize certain words, or folded to give a third dimension. Teachers may assign this project to pairs or small groups in order for discussion of the pieces to take place before they are placed in the final composition.

Review News As Art How-to for suggested procedures and examples created by Washington, D.C., area students.


Weave the Story
Art, Biology, Journalism, Mathematics, Social Studies

 Weaving is an old art form that was reinterpreted by artists such as Laurie Anderson. Her cut paper collage New York Times, Horizonal/China Times, Vertical, 1976, comments on the relations of these two countries. Show and discuss Anderson's work.

To produce their own woven work, students could select the colored pages of the Sunday Comics to contrast with the black and white of the front page. They could select pages from News or Metro section to weave with strips from Health & Science (Tuesday), The World (A section) or the Sports (D section).

The completed works could be done in miniature with very thin strips or larger format with two-inch wide strips of newsprint. Review News As Art How-to for suggested procedures and examples created by Washington, D.C., area students.


Color the Classifieds
Art, Business, Economics, English, Social Studies

Inspiration for this art project is Stephen Dean’s Untitled (Help Wanted Full Page), 1994. Dean used watercolor in shades of blue to cover most of a classified ad page. Students might use watercolor or tempura to paint the paper canvas.

The classified and the public notice pages form natural grids. This project can be used for a number of different expressions:
• ART: Introduce students to Piet Mondrian and his work in which the vertical and horizontal lines are balanced in his composition. Use the classified ad page to provide those intersecting lines.
• BUSINESS, ECONOMICS: Use the classified ads or public notices to comment on an aspect of economics. Which terms will be obliterated? Which will be covered with a transparent medium? Which terms will remain legible?
• ENGLISH: Use the words and phrases to create a found poem. Students will leave unpainted the words they want to be read. The color of the paint might emphasize the mood of the poem.
• SOCIAL STUDIES: Use the classified page to comment on today’s culture. Use paint to connect, hide and reveal ideas. Watercolor allows for transparency as well as opacity.


Mix the Mediums
Art, English, Biology, Social Studies

Collages and mixed-media works can be used in English (express a theme, reflect a setting or plot in a book, capture a character), Biology (reflect on a field trip, show understanding of a unit of study, focus on a plant or animal) and Social Studies (reflect a time period, illustrate the Bill of Rights).

Georges Braque's Fruit Dish, 1912, is considered one of the first mixed media paintings, and Picasso's Guitar, Sheet Music, and Glass, 1912, is an early collage that had a major impact on art in the 20th century.

Pablo Picasso’s Guitar, Sheet Music, and Glass from the National Gallery of Art exhibit is the inspiration for this assignment. Picasso uses words from the newspaper, sheet music, wallpaper and construction paper and his drawing to form the collage.

Mixed-media paintings allow students to use their imaginations as they decide on the variety of materials they might use to express their ideas. These might be "found" articles that are repurposed, items retrieved from a box in your classroom or from an art supply cabinet.


Note the Performances
Art, English, Music

The Style section of The Washington Post can inspire a papier-mache, collage, weaving or mural. Students should use the medium that best expresses their reaction to a performance, performer or entertainment options.

Pablo Picasso’s Guitar, Sheet Music, and Glass could be used to illustrate this assignment. Part of the name of the French newspaper, Le Journal, is cut off.
• Why do students think Picasso did this?
• Was he thinking of the word "jour” which means day?
• Or as the curator of the exhibit suggests, Picasso might want viewers to think of “jouer,” which means “to play.”



Arts in The Washington Post

Make a Mural
Art, English, Physical Education, Social Studies, U.S. History

Stalingrad (Victory in the East), 1943-1944, by Hans Richter is a 16-foot long work. Richter incorporates newspaper accounts of battle from beginning to conclusion.

Students might work in groups to create murals that reflect themes in literature as expressed in today’s newspapers. Heroic individuals and qualities, man vs. nature, man against man and realism might be topics.
• Physical education teachers might assign a mural that tells the story of a sport, safety concerns of athletes and health issues. Include news articles, maps (route to away games, for example), photographs, and student art.
• Social Studies and U.S. History teachers can use the mural to comment on different events (elections, military engagement, community celebrations), themes and individuals (entertainment stars, elected officials and celebrities) through news articles and features, photographs and cartoons, tickets, programs and other items.

Picture an Event
Art, Journalism, Photography, Social Studies, Technology

Teachers might ask students to go to the Newseum’s daily online postings of front pages. Identify the newspapers that use the same photograph, no matter how it has been cropped. Using technology, grab those pages and project them. Ask students to eliminate all page content other than the masthead and the photograph on each of the front pages. What is the impact and message of this one photograph and its size, placement and image area?

Compare this exercise to what Sarah Charlesworth achieved in Modern History: April 21, 1978, in which she tracks the photograph of kidnapped Italian prime minister Aldo Moro on 45 different front pages. Examples of her modern history series may also be viewed. 


Trick the Eye
Art, Photography

Although all of the works displayed at the National Gallery of Art in the Shock of the News exhibit incorporated actual pages or parts of newspaper pages, teachers may wish to introduce students to trompe l’oeil.  William Harnett was a well-known still-life painter in the late nineteenth century. Harnett’s use of trompe l’oeil in The Old Violin, 1886, is illustrated in a National Gallery of Art lesson. The study includes the balance of composition achieved through a door ring, newspaper clipping and blue envelop. Read through the entire interactive slideshow.

“Will the real William Harnett please stand up,” the Smithsonian magazine article of March 1992, features more of Harnett's work and life. The article relates the search to find works by Harnett in 1946 that lead to John Frederick Peto and his works.

Photographs prove that Harnett and Peto knew each other. Peto modeled his work on that of Harnett, but they exhibit different techniques and moods

Both artists included newspaper clippings in their art. According to the National Gallery of Art: To create the newspaper clipping, Harnett, who when young trained as a silversmith, "first painted narrow blocks of thinned black paint over a white ground. With the dark paint still wet, he used a tiny pointed instrument to trace lines through it, revealing the white underlayer and creating a 'typeface' that looked real to the viewer, but was in fact illegible.”

Students could clip a paragraph from The Washington Post. Try to reproduce it with pencil, pen and ink or another technique. For more challenge, select a photograph and caption from The Washington Post. Using a medium of your choice, reproduce them.

Set Up an Art Gallery
Art, English

“Find a World of Art,” “A Glimpse of the Whole” and “Wall Text & More” are found in Museum Musings. Steps are included in these printable handouts to create an exhibit from concept to wall text and a press release. Use these resources to help students set up a display of the art they have created.


Be a Critic
Art, Careers, Journalism

What do students know about the job of an art critic? As teachers discuss the career with students, be sure they understand that criticism may be positive, negative and mixed.

The art critic’s job is to inform the reader about exhibits and artists. There is no doubt about the critic’s point of view. Some of the questions that a review answers are:
• Should the reader spend time viewing an exhibit?
• Are there particular pieces that must be viewed for their technique, image or place in art history?
• How does this artist and the work(s) in the show fit into a particular genre, other works of the artist or art movements?
• Should the reader buy a particular book of the artist’s work and skip the exhibit?

Show students “The Critic” by Arthur Dove. This is one of several on this subject that Dove made. 

After reading the KidsPost article about the “Shock of the News” exhibit, read Philip Kennicott’s review, “Who gets the last word?”   The exhibit explores the connection between art and newspapers. Does Kennicott believe the exhibit is successful?

Read the works of Washington Post visual art critic Philip Kennicott. Students could use the e-Replica search tool to find works by Kennicott. Do a close reading of several of his articles in order to analyze how he provides information about the particular exhibit, communicates his evaluation and enriches the reader’s understanding of art.

Students could be asked to review the art gallery of works created by fellow students. A selection of these reviews could be placed in the student print and online news sources, in PTA newsletters and other places to encourage the school community to attend the show of student work.


Resource Graphic 
In The Know 

An artistic composition made of various materials (as paper, cloth or wood) glued on a surface; flat elements are combined, often creating a three-dimensional work

Construction paper

Economical (often colored) paper suitable for use with paints, crayons, pastels and other medium

Critic Person who describes, analyzes, interprets, evaluates and expresses judgments of the merits, faults and value of artworks
Found art An image, material or object not originally intended as a work of art, that is obtained, selected and exhibited by an artist
Gesso Base coat that contains gypsum (plaster)

Mixed medium

Work of art made with more than one material; various items are combined into a single composition     
Paper pulp    Shreds of paper mixed with glue or paste        
Papier-mache Substance made from paper pulp or shreds of paper that can be molded when wet and painted when dry; paper is usually mixed with resin, wallpaper paste or flour and water mix to soften for molding    Substance made from paper pulp or shreds of paper that can be molded when wet and painted when dry; paper is usually mixed with resin, wallpaper paste or flour and water mix to soften for molding 
  Strips     Cut or torn long pieces
Typographies Shapes of the letters; design, arrangement, style and appearance of type     
 Weave Work formed by interlacing long threads passing in one direction with others at a right angle to them     
  SOURCE: Art Cyclopedia



News As Art How-to, [LINK to the PDF] a resource for this curriculum guide, suggests procedures to complete some of the suggested projects and examples created by Washington, D.C., area students.

District of Columbia Public Schools Academic Content Standards 

Visual Arts: Each student will understand and supply media technique and process in the creation and production of art (Standard 1, Immediate Techniques and Process)

Visual Arts: Each student will use knowledge of structures (the organizational elements and principles, sensory qualities and expressive features) and functions (Standard 2, Structures and Functions)

Visual Arts: Each student will reflect upon and assess by analyzing and critiquing the characteristics and merits of his or her work and that of others (Standard 5, Reflecting and Assessing)


Learning Standards for DCPS are found online at

Maryland Academic Content Standards 

Visual Arts: Students will demonstrate the ability to perceive, interpret, and respond to ideas, experiences, and the environment through visual art. (Standard 1, Perceiving and Responding, Grades 4-8)

Visual Arts: Students will demonstrate an understanding of visual art as an essential aspect of history and human experience (Standard 2, Historical, Cultural and Social Context, Grades 4-8)

Visual Arts: Students will demonstrate the ability to make aesthetic judgments (Standard 4, Aesthetics and Criticism, Grades 4-8)


The Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum Content Standards can be found online at

Virginia Academic Content Standards 

Visual Arts: The student will research and generate ideas for creating works of art, using discussion.  (4.1, Grade 4)

Visual Arts: The student will use the elements of art—line, shape, form, color, value, texture, and space—to express ideas, images, and emotions. (5.3, Grade 5)

Visual Arts: The student will defend a position regarding a historical or contemporary issue through the production of a work of art. (5.8, Grade 5)

Visual Arts: The student will select a preferred work of art from among others and defend the choice, using appropriate art vocabulary. (4.26, Grade 4)

Visual Arts: The student will use an expanded art vocabulary related to design, composition, aesthetic concepts, and art criticism when discussing works of art. (AIII.18, Judgment and Criticism, Art III, Advanced Intermediate)


Standards of Learning currently in effect for Virginia Public Schools can be found online at

Common Core Standards 

Writing: Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information. (Text Types and Purposes, Grades 3-5)

Writing: Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence. (Text Types and Purposes, Grades 6-8)

Language: Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression. (Vocabulary Acquisition and Use, Grades 9-12)


Common Core State Standards currently in effect can be found online at