Looking and Reading

On one of the many snow days in the past month, I brought out some of my art books for the kids–at first, mainly my six-year-old–to look at. (Click pictures to embiggen and see titles.)

(Appropriately, my art history book from college is anchoring this pile!) We started by flipping through The Art Book for Children. I was curious what would interest my son. Right away he wanted to know what was going on in this picture:

How exciting it must be to see that for the first time–an adult, flinging paint around like that. (That, of course, is Jackson Pollock.)

He was also struck by the Op Art pieces by Bridget Riley. The other kids were drawn in, and we spent some time flipping through the books, talking about what we saw. My six-year-old also gravitated right to a small black-and-white reproduction of Van Gogh’s Cypresses, which was in the Georgia O’Keeffe book.

The next time I was at the library, I picked out some more books to bring home

and requested a few more through inter-library loan.

(The Op Art book that is open in the picture above is Optic Nerve by Joe Houston and Dave Hickey, and the large Pollock book is Jackson Pollock by Ellen Landau.)

A few days after I read Linnea in Monet’s Garden to my six-year-old, he gave a succinct and correct explanation of Impressionism to his brother. Meanwhile, we’ve learned that Cypresses is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and we are making Someday Plans to see it in person.

As with anything else, when you start looking at one thing–an artist, a movement, a picture–you begin to pull on threads that lead to other things. We are meandering through some art history right now, seeing what we like and finding connections. And it is so exciting to me both to share artists I like, and why, and to hear what my children like and are responding to. I’m thinking we’ll be trying some different styles in our own studio, too.

The other night, N asked, “What do you think it would look like if the Impressionists tried to do a close-up flower like Georgia O’Keeffe?” I don’t know! How exciting to wonder about it, though.

5 thoughts on “Looking and Reading

  1. Rachelle

    I love N’s question! That shows that some deep thinking is going on in your household! Makes me think, “I wonder what it would learning would look like if a mom showed her three children her art books, and then some more art books, and then opened the books up for discussion.” Wait, we have an answer!! What a great way to pass the time while dealing with all that dang snow you’re getting 🙂

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