Play in Art


Artists have been toying with concepts of play in modern and contemporary art. However, these creative liberties were first inspired by the art movements of DADA and Surrealism. For this unit we will explore reconceptualization and juxtaposition through the lense of DADA and Surrealist art techniques. Narrative will also play a crucial role in this investigation. 

Play in Art Pacing Guide




Phase 1: Reconceptualization and DADA

For the next unit we will be literally, toying with the following concept: RECONCEPTUALZATION.

Reconceptualization (or Recontextualisation) is a process that extracts text, signs or meaning from its original context (decontextualisation) in order to introduce it into another context. Since the meaning of texts and signs depend on their context, recontextualisation implies a change of meaning, and often of the communicative purpose too.


  • To deconstruct and reassemble a stuffed object using philosophical theories from the DADA art movement.
  • Re-conceptualize the stuffed object by creating a new setting or place using drawing or painting materials. As inspired by the surrealist art movement.


Abby Rosenthal

Phase 2: Surrealism and Juxtaposition


Getting to know your Stuffed Creature


Surrealism Artist Infographic

You will be researching one of the following artists and creating an infographic. Infographics offer short, concise, organized information on particular topics. You will be graded on the quality of information your provide and the craftsmanship/organization of your infographic.

Salvador Dali

Man Ray

Max Ernst

Rene Magritte

Joan Miro

Example Artist Infographic


Developing your Surrealist Landscape.

After reading the stories aloud and gathering suggestions from your peers, it’s time to decide what you will include in your landscape. Consider the following questions:

  • What time of geological region will be the setting of your artwork?
  • What objects will be included in the foreground, middleground and background of your landscape?
  • What will those objects symbolism?
  • What will the scale of those objects be?

Finding Reference Images 

Once you have made those decisions, begin to find reference images. Store all reference images in a file folder or put them on a Word Doc. 

For example… The following reference images may have been used to construct the following surreal landscape.



Creating Thumbnail Sketches – 15 points. 

Now its time to begin drawing your surreal landscape. Create 3 thumbnail sketches that rearrange and juxtapose the content you have selected. 

  • Thumbnail sketches are small loose drawings that explore composition. 
  • Approximate size: 3″ x 5″ drawings in your sketchbook


Inspiration from Other Artists:

News Article:

Toys in Art:

The Artwork of Mike Kelley: