I’d like to think we raise our children with a well-rounded education and exposure to a various assortment of scholarly pursuits amongst their judo and boxing lessons. I mean, we do like to watch musicals together. The current favorite is Les Miserables, but I have two teenage girls in the house, so that is rather to be expected.
Where I fall woefully short in educating my children is the world of art. I’ve always meant to focus more on that, to make sure my children knew the difference between a Picasso and Jackson Pollock and were able to appreciate that others appreciate the work of Mark Rothko.
I’ve always meant to do this, but somehow I fell short of that goal. This is where we were saved by travel.
Of course the Louvre was on our visit list in Paris. Duh. THE LOUVRE.
Now, I can’t imagine how anyone else would feel about this, but I was totally excited to see artwork – in person!- which had been featured in the kids CCD workbooks.
Aside from a comment about how the Mona Lisa wasn’t really that great (I feel like I raised a blasphemer and all-around art troglodyte, but apparently he’s not the only one to say this), he shuffled around behind us and dealt with the crowds that permeate the Louvre without much fanfare. Also, without much excitement.
I would have liked more excitement, because I want my kids to be suave and sophisticated (but not too suave and sophisticated!), and having some basic art knowledge is a part of that. But, what the heck, I reasoned. The kid is only ten. He’s got time.
Time is not going to cure the way this kid sees art. I know this now.
We realized that when we visited the Belvedere in Vienna over Christmas.
There we were, working our way through the upper building. We were gazing on works by Klimt, works by Gerstl. We were reading captions and oohing and aaahing over works by Monet when the unmistakable sound of an eleven year old boy melting down penetrated our consciousness.
“WHY CAN’T THEY JUST DRAW WHAT THEY SEE?”
Apparently my son has no appreciation for the Impressionism.
Maybe it was low blood sugar from a lot of walking and impending lunch time. Maybe it was the urge to take a day to go visit those things young boys prefer, like LEGOs or random pieces of artillery. Or, maybe the kid just really hates fuzzy paintings. I don’t know.
I do know that the ridiculously large group following the tour guide who had an Italian flag waving on a stick above her head all stopped their conversations and started staring at the heathen child within their midst who – GASP! – really didn’t appreciate Monet. The guard in the room also alerted and began to once-over our family. That’s never a good sign, so we made for another room and different artwork.
“Mom – Mom, this MAKES NO SENSE. Why can’t they just PAINT THE PICTURE?”
Okay, that wasn’t going to work either. It was time to find something a bit more realistic.
Luckily there are rooms that feature art of the Hyperrrealism school, and we headed there without delay, a move that placated the boy child enough that we could venture back into a few other rooms to peruse the “not realistic” art he seemed unable to stomach.
After we secured the kids some lunch at a McDonalds and Mr. Dirty was operating on a better blood sugar level, we began to make jokes about the incident in the Belvedere.
Can’t stand Monet? Oh, wait until he sees Male and Female! Or Rothko!
He is going to have a STROKE if we take him to the Dali Museum!
He took it all in good stride, which we kind of expect from our kids. I mean, if you’re going to melt down over viewing a Monet in person, you’re going to have to deal with the consequences.
I can say this – he will never forget who Monet and Klimt are. And he can now say with some authority that he prefers paintings which reflect hyperrealism – a word I doubt he would have ever come in contact with had we not needed to find a non-fuzzy painting STAT while in the Belvedere.
I feel like we’ve had a bit of a parental win in this one after all. Even if he did have to disturb an Italian tour group to do so.
And just to illustrate his preferences, he made what I can now say was a very predictable choice when we allowed the kids to each choose one print of a painting we saw at the Belvedere.