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.
On the way in, I caught a ride on Daddy’s shoulders.
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.
Daddy was really excited to see the special exhibition of vintage war posters and propaganda.
I must admit that I found the installation timely and relevant, particularly given our current domestic political climate. And I told Daddy as much.
That said, it was also a little whack.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?!”
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?
That said, sometimes you need to stand back to really take a work in.
And if you have somebody to snuggle with while you look at the cubists, then it’s even better.
Another big canvas. This one bores me, though. Mommy said it was reminiscent of linens popular in the early 80s.
This is much more up my alley.
Umm, can somebody please explain this one to me?
Oh yeah. That’s more like it.
Heads Up, Peeps: The Norton Simon Museum Has Bitchen Statues of Naked Ladies! A Guest Post by Mini Right-Click