Heads Up, Peeps: The Norton Simon Museum Has Bitchen Statues of Naked Ladies! A Guest Post by Mini Right-Click

by anna on October 15, 2008

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This weekend, I took Mommy and Daddy to the Norton Simon Museum of Art. Trust me, they can benefit from the cultural enrichment. In case you don’t already know, the Norton Simon Museum has a pretty decent collection, particularly for an LA museum. I mean, let’s be honest: it’s not the Met, but what is? And they do have enough pieces that they have to keep some of the mid-century sculpture in the parking lot.
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On the way in, I caught a ride on Daddy’s shoulders.
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Well, I did for a little while. And it was fun, until one of the eighty five million rent-a-cops the museum employs came over and told my Daddy to put me down. I have to assume they were worried that I would fall and the museum would get sued. It’s really a shame how litigious our society has become, don’t you think? When a boy cannot even ride on his Daddy’s shoulders anymore . . . well, where are we headed, people? Even these Rodin guys seemed bummed out about the whole thing. And they’re made of bronze.
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Daddy was really excited to see the special exhibition of vintage war posters and propaganda.
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I must admit that I found the installation timely and relevant, particularly given our current domestic political climate. And I told Daddy as much.
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That said, it was also a little whack.
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Mommy claimed the iconography was often not even subtle in its offensiveness. While Daddy recognized the racial and ethnic caricature, he pointed out that there were many more egregious examples of racism in the war propaganda from both World War I and World War II America, and that this poster was primarily lampooning the Axis leaders. Mommy insisted that the third bowling pin looked like Mickey Rooney from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and that she rested her case.
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While they were obsessed with this back-and-forth, I noticed that some of the posters offered pointers for how I could help, as a young American, with the war effort. I don’t want to take an official stance on the War in Iraq, but I do pride myself on doing my best to support the troops. I’m not sure that all of the points were historically applicable, though. For example, I don’t think there is currently a shortage on wheat. But I would be happy to give up bread anyway–I’m not much of a carb man.
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After we finished with the special exhibit, we were leisurely perusing the 19th century collection, so I took the opportunity to contextualize Van Gogh’s contribution to art history for Mommy. I shared with her that Van Gogh–which is pronounced by the Dutch as Van-Goch (like you’re hocking a loogie at the end there)–felt that this portrait was significant in his effort to make a break from Impressionism, because he used color to express emotion, rather than to achieve a greater naturalism.
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Perhaps more revolutionary than Van Gogh’s use of color, though is the fact that this painting depicts a peasant, which marks him as an unusual subject for a major work of art–which had ordinarily been members of the aristocracy, still lifes, landscapes, or religious iconography.
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I also made a point of showing Mommy Van Gogh’s Portrait of his mother. I can look at my Mommy every day, whenever I want, but Van Gogh was not so lucky, and he made this painting from a black and white picture he had of his mom. I don’t know how common it is to have a green Mommy, but who am I to judge, clearly it worked for him.
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As we walked through the museum, I pointed out all the things I liked, and said, “NICE.” I find it is easiest to describe all things that I like and/or that I think are good or pretty by deploying this simple term. “NICE,” I will say, and leave it at that.
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I’m not afraid to get up close and personal with the art, though. You should have seen how fast Mommy raced across the room to catch me after I did this. She was like “nonononononono no TOUCH! MINI NO TOUCH!! HONEY? ARE YOU WATCHING HIM?!”
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But is it my fault that modernists have such gigantic egos? Why do they make the paintings so DAMN BIG if they don’t want drunken elf tyrants toddlers to touch them?
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That said, sometimes you need to stand back to really take a work in.
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And if you have somebody to snuggle with while you look at the cubists, then it’s even better.
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“NICE.”
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Another big canvas. This one bores me, though. Mommy said it was reminiscent of linens popular in the early 80s.
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This is much more up my alley.
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Umm, can somebody please explain this one to me?
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Oh yeah. That’s more like it.
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Nice.

{ 14 comments }

jenni October 15, 2008 at 5:37 am

Wow, Mini has quite the eye! And I love that he really wanted to explore the pieces using his sense of touch as well as his sense of sight. Very deep.

jenni´s last blog post..My Mom is Crazy

Jim October 15, 2008 at 6:45 am

Sweet, Rodin speaks out from the grave. It sounds like he’s very well-grounded in his art history. Now you just new to get a brush in his hand. How nice of daddy to hold him up so appreciate the sculpture!

Like anyone would notice fingerprint on that painting.

Jim´s last blog post..Child of Our Hearts

HeatherPride October 15, 2008 at 6:56 am

Mini is flipping adorable! You guys are brave to take him to the art museum! I haven’t tried that one yet. I dunno, something tells me the rent a cops would have a lot more to say to us than “take him off your shoulders”!!

HeatherPride´s last blog post..Are You Amazing?

the ex October 15, 2008 at 8:12 am

They let you take pictures? I’m surprised! I haven’t been in a museum with paintings where they let you take pictures.

the ex´s last blog post..Have You Ever Wanted to Buy Me a Drink?

anna October 15, 2008 at 8:25 am

As long as you don’t use a flash, it’s fine.

shonda October 15, 2008 at 8:36 am

These photos are evidence that you are truly ballsy. FEARLESS! I can’t believe you took Mini into a place with so many valuable things. Now YOU are a MAVERICK!

shonda´s last blog post..A Beautiful Mind

Casey October 15, 2008 at 9:33 am

Such a cute kid. I’m pretty sure my son would have found the naked girl statue too. Boys…..

Casey´s last blog post..Premature Eblogulation

Ginger October 15, 2008 at 9:58 am

The cubists do make one feel the need for a cuddle…

foradifferentkindofgirl (fadkog) October 15, 2008 at 11:25 am

He’s got quite the cultured eye for one so young. The final photo truly proves that!

foradifferentkindofgirl (fadkog)´s last blog post..‘a fool could see just how much i adore you…’

PauvrePlume October 15, 2008 at 3:08 pm

Holy crizzap. This might be my favorite post of yours, like, EVER! And them’s some serious words, considering I pretty much always like your posts in a serious way. Now, I’m a Frenchie girl — AND an artsy girl — so you can bet your A I’ve been to all the Parisian museums. I’ve seen my share of Van GochchchcHOCKER and of Rodin (whose museum is my absolute favorite in Paris — LOVE HIM). But nothing’s better than seeing a wee little mini appreciate them and take them all in!! I love it. I can’t wait to be an aunt and introduce future niece and nephew to bunches of cultural stuff. I already say “bonjour” to my sister’s belly, but she gets annoyed. hee hee

PauvrePlume´s last blog post..Now that’s just inappropriate…

Mary Anne October 15, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Mini looks so TINY next to Mr. Right Click and all the art!!! He also has amazing taste and I really think, “NICE” is going to be the new term sweeping the art world. I’m totally trying it out down here in Texas when we go to the Impressionist exhibit to see how well it catches on…I’ll report back to you.

Oh, Also? Touching the paintings? IS FUN!!!! Go Mini!!!!

Mary Anne´s last blog post..The Poo-Poo’s Have Hands!

Juliet October 15, 2008 at 6:10 pm

Has your husband seen Sandow Birk’s exhibit “In Smog & Thunder”? If he likes the agit/prop art he’d really enjoy it. It’s about a fake war between northern and southern California and much of it is in the style of war propaganda art over different decades. I saw it several years ago somewhere in Laguna Beach but now I think there’s a DVD & book. The artist went on to do a cartoon/puppetshow of Dante’s Inferno which gives you a little bit of an idea of how his mind works.

Juliet´s last blog post..The Piano Tuner

jenboglass (steenky bee) October 15, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Amazing day out! I am completely obsessed with vintage posters. AH! I would have loved to see those. What a lovely day. It looked so relaxing. Now I’m jonseing for a museum visit.

jenboglass (steenky bee)´s last blog post..I Carried You in My Heart

Mary Anna October 15, 2008 at 7:56 pm

I think it’s never to early to introduce kiddos to art – or to wrestle them away from priceless works! We have an art museum here that hosts family days where they do all these different activities out on the lawn for the kiddos. Once, we painted like Pollack. And, they had the original prints from “Babar” and that was really cool. They had all these elephant-themed crafts and a magnetic set where you could create your own storyboards.

We grew up going to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and I thik it’s so important to brave the dirty looks (and rent-a-cops) and let kids soak it all in.

Mary Anna´s last blog post..Say a prayer today

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