Kimbell Kids: Animals in Art

Focusing on a single theme or idea during your family visit is a great way to keep everyone excited and focused. We tend to like broad or simple themes. They generate more options in the galleries and appeal to more people. 

Animals are a favorite, and why not? Who doesn’t love furry dogs, colorful birds, or sleek horses? (And in an allergy-free environment, no less!)

Check out these two artworks on your next visit, and see where these conversation starters take you: 

Prized Possession 

What are some of the first things you notice in this picture? How is the horse standing? Why do you think the artist chose to paint a side view, or profile, of the horse? 

Look even more carefully. (But, not too close to the painting itself!) What details do you notice this time? What words would you use to describe the horse’s coat? Where do you see highlights? The artist, George Stubbs, pays careful attention to everything—from the horse’s shiny coat to his strong muscles. He even shows the veins in the horse’s legs! 

What stands out in the background? Stubbs makes sure that our eye always goes back to the star attraction. The tree may be the largest thing in the picture, but it’s painted to “frame” the horse. 

What is the man in the scene doing? Who do you think he is? Why do you think someone like Lord Grosvenor would want a painting of his horse? Do you think he was proud of his famous racehorse?

Sights and Sounds from the Jungle 

Take a few minutes to look at this sculpture of Cociyo, the god of lightning and rain. What are some of the first things that catch your eye?

Focus on the shapes on his face and head. Anything unusual? Some of Cociyo’s facial features come from animals! 

How would you describe his nose? Those three curved shapes above his tongue belong to the nose of a big cat—like the jaguar. 

What else do you notice about his mouth? What animal has a tongue like that? 

Together, the jaguar and snake have a very special meaning, and it relates to water!

What kind of noise does a jaguar make? What makes that noise during a rainstorm? What other animals could you use to represent loud, booming thunder? Now, think about how the snake’s tongue moves. Pretty fast, right? What moves like that in a rainstorm? Add those thundercloud eyebrows, and you’ve got a jungle rainstorm! 

Why do you think the Zapotec people would create a sculpture that represents a rainstorm? How do you feel during a big, powerful storm? Why is water so important?

“Animal Features” Family Gallery Guide 

Explore more fun connections with representations of animals by downloading our thematic “Animal Features” Family Gallery Guide. See you in the galleries!