Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Exposing One's Children to Art (and Vice Versa)

At ages 6 and 10, we figured our children were finally old enough to take to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Although the younger had no interest whatsoever until I mentioned there were suits of armor.

Things seemed to be off to a good start -- when we entered the first gallery, our Little Miss Deep Thinker peered up at this statue intently:

Aristide Maillol, French, 1861 - 1944

She circled around it, seemingly fascinated.

Then she waved me down to her level and whispered in my ear: "Mom, I see her b-u-t-t!"

(The Little Miss has just entered the room as I post the photo.
I say to her, "Remember this one?"
She replies "Oh yeah! Smells like licorice. Black licorice."
Me: "Licorice?"
She: "Yeah. The room did - black licorice."
Well...okay then.)

Soon afterwards, we came across The Thinker.

The Thinker
Made in France
Conceived 1880; cast by 1926
Auguste Rodin, French, 1840 - 1917.
Cast by the founder Alexis Rudier, Paris.

"I saw this one before!" the Elder Daughter exclaims. (I suspect via a SpongeBob parody.)

"It's called, The Thinker," I say, in my most teacherly voice.

To which the youngest quickly volleys, "But does he have to think NAKED?!"

So...okay...you have an idea of how the afternoon went.

We went on a family tour, which Little Miss Deep Thinker punctuated with non-sequiturs. Example: raising her hand to tell the guide she had Yogos for a snack in the car.

There was much pulling aside and re-directing, but Little Miss continued to share non-relevant information with the group.

The Elder Daughter, on the other hand, remained focused and scholarly, save for the occasional rivalry-esque poke in her sibling's ribs in the rare moment when sibling was actually silent.

Afterwards, Elder Daughter told me that was her favorite part of our visit (the tour, not the poke -- although the poking was probably a close second.)

The girls also enjoyed the Energy yes! exhibition - particularly the two installations seen in the photo below:

Victor Grippo’s Analogía I (2da. version)

It's not totally apparent in the photo, but there was electrical wiring connected to the potatoes and hooked up to a voltmeter that shows the total amount of energy generated by the potatoes when the visitor presses a button.

A button that our little visitors pushed over and over and over again.

Surprisingly (since there was no nudity involved) the Little Miss was also fascinated by this wall full of globes:

Thomas Hirschhorn - Camo-Outgrowth (Winter)

Each globe had an area covered with camouflage tape, and on the shelves' edges hung photographs of people wearing camouflage.

Of all the visuals our children would see that day, this installation made me the most uncomfortable. I didn't particulary want to expose them to all these images of war.

I tried to rush them past, but they were transfixed. Drawn to the faces in the photos and eager to explore the geography covered by the tape -- even as they were blissfully unaware of the implications.

Or so I thought. Little Miss Deep Thinker told me the installation was her favorite thing in the museum. (Even more than the armor and the b-u-t-t-s!)

Why? "Because it showed how much war came," she answered.


I should end on that profundity and not mention how that night's bedtime ritual was peppered with genitalia questions raised by the artwork. In particular, one huge painting featuring a bevy of baby boys in birthday suits frolicking in a stream - celebrating purity or some other nonsense.

I found the painting particularly freaky (as did Little Miss Deep Thinker, evidently) but couldn't find the image online to show y'all.

Instead, I leave you with this:

Is it just me, or does this guy look like Conan O'Brien?

Portrait of Antonin Artaud, 1974
Thomas Chimes, American, born 1921
Oil on panel


At September 12, 2006 2:14 PM, Blogger Rev. Smokin Steve said...

That's totally Conan!


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