Modern Art for Modern Boys

Tue, Jul 27, 2010

General, Vocational

Modern Art for Modern Boys

Our visit to the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan was insightful.

First of all, I had to explain what the term “modern” meant. Some of the artists whose works grace the walls of the MOMA are in fact old enough to be my children’s great-great-grandparents. So we needed to understand modern in a broader sense.

Second, the boys have been studying art, taking drawing classes that have them using pencil, charcoal, and chalk pastel to draw life from the eye (The art school provides color photo images of real animals, landscapes, etc.).

Third, there is not one single lady’s breast available for drawing at their art school.

So, this is a sampling of what I heard on our MOMA visit:

[About Paul Cézanne] “1885? Does that mean he’s DEAD now?”

[About Piet Mondrian’s “Tableau I: Lozenge with Four Lines and Gray”] “Well, I can just go home and whip that up.”

[About Modigliani, Klimt, Rousseau, Picasso, Richard Hamilton, et al.] “Why do there always have to be naked breasts in the pictures?”

But the kids’ eyes were taking many things in. They were seeing that a person can—did—use a gigantic canvas to depict an array of different Campbell’s soup cans. There was a painting of a zoomed-in close-up of the head of an enormous hammer curled up on itself. There were clocks melting, draped over a tree branch. And there was color—swirls of it, splatters of it, even shining on us as beams of light.

Art here was not limited to the kind of art that our art school in the Northwest teaches us to create.

How odd, really, that my kids, who are being schooled to do art in a very grown-up way, are having to come to New York to see a bunch of grownups’ art that is outside the lines…that breaks the rules…like what a kid would do.

And of course, no little-boy museum visit would ever be complete without riotous laughter over something like Cézanne’s “The Bather:”
“Ha ha! Look at what he’s wearing!”

Leave a Reply