ON May 2, 2012 The Scream (one of Edvard Munch’s four originals) sold for $120 million at Sotheby’s. Why? What is it about this painting? Is it the haunting expression of the androgynous figure? The wispy curves of the face and fiord? The blood-red sky? Whatever it is, it strikes me. Something is going on that touches my soul. BEAUTY.
ON our first morning in Florence we entered a non-descript building through a side street door. My two teens and I had taken a trip, the culmination of 10 years of schooling and delighting in art. We rounded the corner of a long hall. There he was – larger than life, towering 17 feet high. It took my breath. Michelangelo’s David. More grand than I had imagined. Why do we among the crowds flock, admire, and marvel at this masterpiece of perfection? BEAUTY.
ON an early spring morning my nine year old took me by the hand as he scurried out the front door. “Mom, Mom!” Quietly he led me to see, springing up from beneath the decaying leaves, the Daffadowndilly “in her yellow sun-bonnet and her greenish gown.”
“Winter is dead!” he whispers.
He had heard the A.A. Milne poem when he was five, and ever since, the daffodils of early spring make him whisper, “Winter is dead!”
How is it that a poet can capture the birth of spring? How is it that a poem can capture the interest and heart of a little boy? BEAUTY.
Why do the aesthetics (paintings, sculpture, poetry, literature, music) touch us so? Aesthetics is the study of Beauty. Aesthetics technically pertains to “sense perception” or that which we perceive through our senses. Charlotte Mason entreats educators to give children a feast of the very best in aesthetic beauty, thus her insistence on picture study, musical appreciation, poetry, and living books (See Carroll Smith’s April 9 ChildlightUSA Blog “The Literary Form: Friend or Foe.”)
Why? She wants education to touch the whole person, not just the intellect. Beauty touches the soul. When Truth comes to us through the Beauty of a poem, we are moved, changed.
Thanks to Milne, my son will never think of the daffodil as just a pretty flower. God gave it meaning. Its early springing signals the end of morbid winter and announces the delight of new life.
So we set before them the feast of the masters: Milne, Mozart, Rubens, Rembrandt, and of course, Shakespeare! In the article, “Art and Enjoyment” (Parents Review, vol. 11) K. Sidford implores, “Start early! I advocate the regular study of Art at a very early age…”
Sidford (1900) states, “Education in taste and beauty has, for its object, to train up in the utmost attainable harmony the whole sum of the powers both in sense and spirit…In the invaluable years in which the childish faculties are awakening, home influence is the most important factor; to it we must look for guidance of the early “love of beauty” which every child possesses, though in varying degree.”
Join me at the 2012 ChildlightUSA Conference for a Thursday evening book review of Saving Leonard, a profound look at art and culture, and also at the workshops, The Beauty of Aesthetics and Teaching Shakespeare, where we shall further explore “The Scream,” the “David” and the works of the masters!
© Lori Lawing 2012