Child as art critic

Sometimes the kids are right.

Most studies show that children consider good art to be anything rendered realistically, this might be true most of the time, but what I love is their way of summing up art criticism in one sentence. Something current art critics might benefit from. Even as an artist, to me, the only thing more usless than a music critic trying to be a “writer” is an art critic trying to over intellectualize things.

I went to see the current exhibit at Cleveland’s MOCA. I really liked 2 paintings by Dana Schutz, so I went with my husband’s family to see the rest. This included my 7 yr-old niece and 9 yr-old nephew. The rest of the Dana Schutz exhibit I wasn’t crazy about besides my two favorites; maybe the canvases were too big, some seemed careless, who knows. In fact, everyone in the family was trying to figure out why this was considered hot shit.

My nephew had a few gems of criticism,

“Ew, fat people kissing!”
“I could do that!” and
“Aunt Arabella, you didn’t get an exhibit at this museum and this did? Whatever!”

Then my little niece assured me that the museum staff must be “dumb”. We thought the Barbieri room was pretty cool, if anything just because his goal and process were very interesting.

My nephew and husband were impressed that they were fooled into thinking these were photos of models — that was good and dandy enough for them. But the best comment from my nephew was reguarding a Richard Long piece that belongs in the permanent collection at CMA. I hadn’t seen it yet, but I watched one of the guards smirk as my nephew came out of the gallery and said sarcastically,

“There’s a very interesting arrangement of rocks, in a circle.

Later when I showed him the catalog had written a few paragraphs describing the rock installation, he was perplexed,

“But its just a bunch of rocks, at least the other lady did pictures of stuff!”

And it was here in a disappointed fashion — feeling cheated a bit — everyone was in a hurry to leave. This was much like the experience seeing the Laura Owens exhibit at the L.A. MOCA, who was unfortunately put next door to the stellar Lucien Freud retrospective making her exhibit it look that much worse. I made up to my husband for that by taking him to see an Alex Gross exhibit, he loved that.

See, a lot of art/museum types want to say that the reason “common people” don’t like a lot of new artists or avant garde exhibits is because they just don’t understand them, or they are ignorant and don’t get “edgy” whatever that means these days. But to me, I think they are just better at seeing through hype and bullshit.

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