David Hare For Younger Children

Silhouette of sculpture

The Swan's Dream of Leda


David Hare

American, 1917–1992

Subject: Contrast

Activity: Make a drawing that uses contrast

Materials: Pencil and paper

Vocabulary: Contrast, depict, sculpture


David Hare’s sculpture, The Swan’s Dream of Leda, depicts how a swan might imagine Leda, a beautiful woman. The swan and Leda are both very soft and gentle things, but the artist chose to use hard bronze and stone to make this sculpture. Thin pieces of metal and gentle curves make the sculpture look much lighter than it feels, like it could lift off of the ground and float away. This contrast between the heavy and hard materials and the light subject and look of the sculpture makes it interesting to see. Many artists use contrasting elements to bring excitement to their artworks. Some examples of this are light and dark, rough and smooth, and small and large.


Can you name some opposites that are interesting to look at side by side?

How would this sculpture be different if it were made of a lighter, softer material?

How would this sculpture be different if it did not have the heavy stone base it sits on?

If the artist had chosen to make his sculpture look like the woman Leda, instead of The Swan’s Dream of Leda, would it be as interesting?


Using pencil on paper, have your child make a drawing that has contrast. Use light and dark, rough and smooth, small and large, heavy and light, and any other contrasts you can think of. How do the two qualities look when placed side by side? Do they draw attention to certain parts of your drawing?


Contrast—When two different or opposite things are compared

Depict —To represent by a picture

Sculpture —A work of art that has height, width, and depth