I took a friend’s children to the National Gallery this week, the daughter was 14 and their son was 11. I was really surprised at their taste in art.
In order to learn about what they liked we played the game, “pick your favorite painting” in each collection that we hit. I basically asked them, look at the art in this room and then tell me, if you could have one of these paintings which one would it be and why. It was my sneaky way to really get them to look at the art in each room and to get engaged in really looking at the art. Although they could pick out what they liked they were sometimes unable to communicate why they were drawn to a particular work.
The younger child is a boy, and he preferred landscapes and nautical scenes. His favorite Rembrandt was the painting The Mill which to me is a very dark and depressing scene. We both liked some of the paintings in the impressionist area of the museum but our choices in most rooms were at opposite extremes.
I was surprised that he didn’t seem to love John Singleton Copley’s Watson and the Shark; I had assumed that the image of the shark attacking was bloodthirsty enough to satisfy any teenager. The interesting story about this painting is that it was commissioned by the Man who was the boy being attacked by the shark. The Boy lost his leg below the knee as the result of the two attacks by the shark. To think that anyone could survive this in 1749 amazes me. If you want to learn more information about the story behind this painting recommend you visit this wikipedia link or the link from the National Gallery of Art.
The other child was a 14 year old girl, she preferred the impressionist, especially Girl with a Watering Canby Renoir and this sculpture (that I loved as well). I checked at the NGA website and couldn’t find the statute or the artist’s name and the picture I took the name is illegible.
It’s been interesting taking them to the different museums. I didn’t want to push them to love art because -well they are individuals and they are also young (still teenagers). They like the things I’ve done and they both promised to pose for me on Sunday so it will be interesting.