Ever since I took my five-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Danny, to see the Dan Flavin exhibition here at the age of three, she has been completely hooked. So when I told her that there was a sculpture made entirely of chocolate (Art of Two Germanys) and sculptures that she could touch and play with (Franz West), she started counting down the days until I could bring her again.
While we waited for Danny’s friend, Sasha (twelve), to be dropped off by her mom, my daughter and I played a game of hide and seek inside Chris Burden’s Urban Light. Once Sasha joined us, we played on Franz West’s pink and lavender outdoor sculptures (Danny dubbed them “Lips” and the “Purple Blob”). Both girls were having such a great time getting to actually sit on the work. Franz West has said that interacting with odd objects has an effect on the person doing the interacting, and that clearly was the case with Danny and Sasha. They were having such a great time giggling and making faces at one another—something that traditional artwork does not normally inspire.
Next, Danny led us through Tony Smith’s Smoke and headed into the Franz West show. Not only did we play with the Adaptives and sit on the chairs, but the guards pointed out a work with a bathing cap that we all tried on. I have to say that the guards seemed to be having as much fun as we were “breaking the rules” of traditional museum installations and encouraging us to touch certain works. When we went into the room with light fixtures, my daughter immediately thought of the Dan Flavin show that she loved so much and shouted, “The lights are back! The lights are back!” Who says five is too young for art history?
Finally, Danny marched Sasha and me over to BCAM, where she wanted to see the “Red Egg,” the “Blue Balloon Dog,” and, of course, the sculpture made out of chocolate. We ended in the monumental Richard Serra sculptures, where my daughter loves to “follow the path until we get dizzy” in Sequence, and “count the round rooms” in Band.
Michael Govan told me when I first arrived at LACMA that kids “get” contemporary art—a topic previously discussed at Unframed. I don’t know if it is the size and scale, or if it is just that children take things at face value rather than looking for a hidden meaning, but he was certainly right about my daughter.
Melissa Bomes, Associate VP, Corporate Sponsorships & Marketing