Sunday, November 30, 2003

Museums Sans Kids

On Sunday, I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art by myself. I really wanted to see the exhibit on Romanticism without the kids. I wanted to read the signs and really look at a couple of paintings.

Steve and I take the kids to the museum from time to time. We're trying to teach them how to look at art and not to run from one end of a gallery to the other. We're trying to slowly civilize our savages. They're still pretty young, so we're just trying to get them used to the museum climate. Ian's only 1-1/2 and is pretty content to hang out in the backpack for a while. At four, Jonah can be guided.

Following the lead of some artists in the neighborhood, we've put up posters of Picasso along with old French pictures of ocean liners in their room.

At the Met, the statues in the Greek and Roman room are a good place for kids. They're massive and powerful, which Jonah likes. He also likes the still pool of water around the Temple of Dendur where he let him chuck pennies. Though Steve and I can't study things in depth, we just like being in a beautiful place like the Met. It beats taking the kids to the mall.

As much fun as it to educate the youth, it is still good to go on your own when given the chance, like I did on Sunday.

I took a class on 19th century art in college. It was one of those last minute, random decision classes that turns out to be great. The professor showed slides of Ingres, David, Gericault that have been burned into my head. I also remember she had a thing for feet. "Ah, yes. Nobody does a foot like David. Look at this close up the big toe. Amazing."

Romanticism was a movement in England and France in the mid 1880s. It was in response to the classicism movement which focused on Greek and Roman history. The Romantics were more interested in the exotic, tragic death of commoners, and in idealized pastoral life. Lots of dead women with dark skin and robes half fallen off.

The first painting is a full size replica of Gericault's The Raft of the Medusa. The original is at the Louvre (also reproduced on a Pogues album). Even the replica was amazing.

Other favorites in this exhibit:

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey, 1833, Paul Delaroche (French, 1791–1856)

Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi, 1826 Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798–1863)

Calais Sands, Low Water, Poissards Collecting Bait, 1830, Joseph Mallord William Turner (British, 1776–1837)

Forget the mournful saints in the el Greco exhibit. Go see the dead dark women.

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