I had a good day today, the three classes I thought on paintings from the National Gallery of Canada went very well. The Kids and teachers were interested and asked good questions. I spoke on the Italian Renaissance painters Salviati and Bronzino, two of my favourite Renaissance painter. Then jumped to the Impressionists with Monet and Gauguin and then to Kandinsky where I introduce the concept of how science and astronomy, geometry etc can play a role in the composition of paintings. I tried Magritte but it is very difficult for an audience of 8 to 12 year old, too many challenges to established social class concept which dictates that Art must be safe. I only have 55 minutes and I need to keep it moving. I also told them the story of Maman by Canadian Artist Louise Bourgeois, the giant spider is just outside the National Gallery and the kids always like to hear about it, they all know it.
Maman is a tribute to the mother of Louise Bourgeois who was a weaver by trade and the eight eggs she carries are the brothers and sisters of Bourgeois. The idea that this spider can be associated to her mother and her work is a challenge for those kids who come from middle-class background, it also challenges and may contradict what their parents told them about Art. Never a bad thing to contradict Mom and Dad, after all they are just 10-11 years old and in just a few years they will enter those rebellious years.
I had Angela Hewitt playing this piano piece by J.S.Bach on my way back to the reception for Volunteers Week at the National Gallery of Canada. This piece is usually done on organ but I find it so much more relaxing on piano and it does not take away any of the beauty of the composition. I do listen almost exclusively to classical music and I am often out of the loop on popular music. Have a listen it is quite nice.
I also found this recording with Maestro Leopold Stokowski one of the great conductors of the XXth Century. His arrangements are always dramatic and fulsome.