Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Kids at the Gallery

Last Sunday we all tripped off to the National Gallery of Victoria.

We first went to the Love, Loss and Intimacy exhibition, in the 'works on paper' gallery. Sophia was particularly struck by two sketches of babies. "Bubba," she said, when we arrived at the exhibition exit. Instead of leaving, she walked quickly back to the drawings by Paul Helleu and Max Klinger.

I was also impressed by Helleu's drawing of this wife breastfeeding - a vision of warmth and intimacy: a man who was happy to be there. (You can see I've been reading Hemingway, who was often not happy to be there.)

Then Nikos and I went upstairs to play 'hunt the Matisse'. Nikos remembered 'Reclining nude on a pink couch' immediately, and was very happy with himself. We then trundled into the early modern gallery, and looked at the sculpture. We had this conversation in front of Rodin's 'The Thinker':
Damon: What's he doing?
Nikos: Thinking.
Damon: Thinking about what?
Nikos: Lego.
After this, Sophia and I had a look around in the same gallery, and she was taken by Rodin: his 'Kissing babes'.

The day ended at Federation Square, where we had salted olives, smoked almonds, cheese and chips - while an exhausted Sophia slept.

In this, I hope we're introducing our kids to a world: of vivid or nuanced experiences. It's a world that can surprise, shock and intrigue - but it's familiar, like an old school-buddy.  With a proper introduction, art can be a friend for life, rather than a series of casual, awkward encounters.


JoniB said...

Well said! I was not exposed to art as a child and now in adulthood I find that I have rediscovered the child's wonder when I tour my local art museum. Thank you for showing your children the vital connection with art!

Damon Young said...

Thanks, Joni. Yes, it's 'vital' in the original sense: to do with life and living.

innercitygarden said...

My son really doesn't like art galleries, it's not lack of exposure (I've worked in them) he just doesn't like how inclosed and windowless they often are.

So we look out for art galleries with windows and natural light - Art Play is fantastic for example. It tends to lead us to the more innovative exhibitions and smaller institutions.

Damon Young said...

Yes,good point. Galleries and museums can be dull and sterile and stifling. Occupational hazard of the civilised mind, I suppose. But where possible, it's is excellent, I agree, to seek airy, light-filled spots. To my mind, the Art Museum of Queensland is a very good example of this.