Art Appreciation with Maddie

Maddie didn’t have school today but Sam did. So she and I went to MoMA to see the monumental Picasso Sculpture exhibit. I’d seen it with a friend earlier in the week, which was good — it’s hard to fully take in an exhibit while also helping a kid experience it. Seeing it with her after seeing it on my own was perfect. And boy did she love it.

We got her one of the audio guides. I wasn’t sure if she’d like that, but she really got into it. To the point that she mostly focused on the pieces that had audio. She especially loved the ones that had audio geared toward kids. At points I watched her nodding along with the audio and then saying “Oh! I see it!” in response to something the curator was pointing out.

Seeing art with a kid is a revelation. Some of her observations were just amazing. Of a sculpture of a woman’s head she said “From this angle she looks kind, from this angle she looks crazy and from that angle she looks serious.” She also noticed that the gallery that had the sculptures from Picasso’s years in occupied Paris was darker (dark gray walls, dimmer lighting) than the other galleries and that it felt “scary.” Quote: “This room is a little like dum, dum, duuuuuum …”

She was less impressed with Andy Warhol’s Soup Cans. She stood in the dead center of the room, ringed by the paintings, and declared “This is dumb” in a voice loud enough that Warhol himself may have heard her. She did like the Marilyns.

At dinner she wanted to share her experience with Sam so we played some of the audio clips from the MoMA app. One of the kids clips mentioned Picasso’s idea that all children start out as artists, that the problem was how to stay an artist when you grow up. Maddie looked at me solemnly, with the wisdom of her nearly 8 years, and said “It’s hard.”