Walker Art Center

Art Today

Schools and Teachers

Elements and Principles of Today's Art

Grades K - 12

Traditionally, the elements and principles of art—including line, shape, color, and texture—are the visual building blocks of art and design used by Western artists to express ideas or emotions in art. In addition to learning how to use paint or carve stone, artists learn how to work with these elements by applying principles such as balance, repetition, harmony, and symmetry.
You may explore the traditional elements and principles of art further, on the The Artists’ Toolkit Web site.
In their efforts to create meaning in today’s world, contemporary artists frequently go beyond these elements and principles in their work using new concepts and approaches.

Begin with a short history of modern and postmodern art to provide the context for new elements of art. Then five new elements—appropriation, time, space, performance, and hybridity—are defined and illustrated through examples in artworks from the Walker’s permanent collection. Student discussion questions and activities further the explorations of new elements of contemporary art.

How do artistic elements and principles help artists create meaning in art?
What are the new elements and principles of today’s art?
How can understanding elements and principles help us to understand art today?