Art Appreciation: Utilizing Art Museums
Van Gogh's artistic style is very special, general strokes revolving around like the wind. Whether it is the sky, clouds, or the light of the moon and stars, his art has a common use of stacked powerful short strokes, until the entire canvas is covered with whorls. Compared to Van Gogh, Picasso’s style was nearly childish. It was often a few strokes sketched out the shape of the object, appearing almost as simple as the art of a child. If in constant contact, whether from a book or an art museum, a two-year-old child can clearly identify the strong emotional strokes of Van Gogh, or Picasso's childishly drawn shapes and symbols. Of course, if a child has no such contact or experience with art, it is impossible and unbelievable that a child would have this ability.
Figure 1. Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
The Dessert: Harmony in Red (The Red Room), 1908
Oil on Canvas, 180 x 220 cm
St. Petersburg Hermitage Museum, Russia
Painting must only go hand in hand with having good artistic taste; you cannot paint without knowing how to paint or the reason for painting. We must develop the limitless potential of vision, so that art becomes the quality of life and a tool of life. As the master of aesthetics, Rudolf Arnheim, said, we must "understand who we are as people" and ask "what place will we live in”, a show of elegant fashion. Let the "elegant way" become a ubiquitous attitude to life. But if we seek with our eyes and cannot find anything like this so-called "elegance", then we must rely on ourselves to create it.
There are some resources for this; the 21st century is a new era of the museum. Art museums have shifted focus from the traditional "collection display" to "education" and the use of the abundant resources of art galleries is already a common trend of contemporary art education. Of the plethora of possibilities that art museums can provide, one is for children to "choose" the subjects they want to learn, turn passive learning to active learning, and create another art-learning situation. In the past, there was an idea that school is the proper institution of fine arts education, but that notion has been broken. Now, serious school art courses, in a single classroom environment, will become more lively and more diverse because of the joint effort with the resources of the museum.
Aside from making up for the inadequacy of the school curriculum and enriching children's study, the educational exhibitions designed for children in foreign countries (to Taiwan) are used to promote the cognition and understanding of the children's artistic creation through activities for both parents and children. Usually, schools have one to two field trip opportunities a semester where students can take a bus to visit the art museum, and learn on a tour led by a professional education personnel, who explains and carries on teaching the curriculum. Currently, there is no such system in place in Taiwan. Trips to art museums are organized only by parents or teachers, who go to the art museum not only to make good use of the community resource, but also the art museum-designed education curricula. Because parents relearning art can help children further understand artists and the interpretation of the relevant art theory, these are worth participating in.
It is important to be “ready” when taking children to the art museum. Usually the museum will have a brief introduction or publication before the important exhibition, and their website also has a detailed exhibition introduction. The most important condition of a successful visit to the art museum is the parents’ and teachers’ information collection and self-education prior to the visit. The exhibition of the painter's life story, the masterpiece, the painter's unique style, and even some illustration stories will highly pique the child’s interest, stimulating a motivation to learn. Without prior education, the child visiting the art museum is just walking around, prone to boredom and becoming noisy, a situation that occurs all too commonly in Taiwan's art museums. Therefore, in order to have a more efficient art museum visit, for children to participate in an "art museum tour" of the elegant habits, a warm-up preparation beforehand is very important.
Allow prior exposure to the contents of the exhibition, so children can find the focus in exhibitions. Planning to search for a painter's representative paintings, or finding a theme such as a "flower" in artworks can be very effective. Use different methods of comparing flower depiction, or look for the exhibition works featuring animals, observing color and so on; all of these ideas can help children maintain interest. For example, in 2003, the Fauvism Matisse exhibit at the National Museum of History in Taiwan was one of the most important art events of the century; in 1907, Matisse's color revolution influenced the whole century’s art and thought trend, and young children had a rare opportunity to attend this art event which indisputably left a lasting life memory. Even the Soho Children's Museum of Art showed the masterpiece of "The Dessert: Harmony In Red" three-dimensionally; the painting was constructed in 3D to let children into the painting. The color of a woman's clothes were changeable, and the positions changed as well, so that children visiting the Children's Museum of Art could themselves enter the artwork and directly feel the color, area, and relative location.
Henri Matisse (1869 - 1954)
Nu Bleu IV (Blue Nude IV),1952
Cut and pasted, 103 x 74 cm
Musée Matisse (Matisse Museum), Nice-Cimiez
This masterpiece features the balance of color harmony; even with the contrast of the three primary colors in the picture, including the yellow-blue area, the arrangement of black is ingenious. And even with red as the strongest color of the whole painting, the painting still has a balanced, stable visual effect. Through experiencing physical space, children can understand the color tone concept, but also the effect of the game and learning. Modern art museum education cannot be like the past, when observing was the end-all, when a painting was just a painting, and when we were still ourselves. Post-modern viewers like you and I could remain a viewer or become a painting subject, but could even more so become painters ourselves. Moving from the mere sidelines into active participation, we can change from “simply watching,” to directly involved in "creation.” We can have a conversation with the original authors despite being separated by hundreds or thousands of years of different time and space
From the figure below, we can see that children not only understand the strong color of Matisse's tension, but also subscribe to his unique generalization of simplified art language. When the child picks up a pen to redraw, such as the picture of the Blue Nude IV, the child's brushwork is comparable to Matisse. Children were not present in the century of artistic events, but through the relevant practice courses, can go beyond the limitations of "looking.” They can be like Matisse and simplify the complex to rewrite the creation to show their own understanding of Fauvism.
In addition to drawing pictures, reading books, and using the internet, libraries and art museums are important ways to bringing children closer to appreciating art.
ShiChen Luo (5 years old)
Blue Nude (redrawing)