Picasso & Ben:
Understanding Exceptional Kids
Inevitably innocence is chiseled away by the understanding of more complicated issues. We are given tools through education to deal with problems that living in this world presents to us. Parents, teachers, clergy, and our peers do their best to simplify what our response should be toward any given issue as we age. Generally speaking we all think we perceive the world the same way. The sky is blue. Telling a lie is wrong. 2+2=4. Take aspirin for a headache. Pretty simple, right? Not really.
Most of us learn at a very young age how to manipulate others so that we can gain what we want or think we need. For those of you with children you might recall trying to get your child to sleep through the night for the first time. Little Johnny wants Little Bobby’s toy so he socks Bob in the nose to obtain it. We learn how to hurt others or even worse, learn how to get hurt. And then by our teenage years that sex thing slams a sledgehammer onto each and every moral compass we’ve been given. As a parent you hope and pray that compass is mighty strong.
And so you see how clever Picasso’s response to the GI. It is not very easy for an artist to capture on a canvas what he or she sees in the world. Let’s put it this way: if I were to choose to have a self-portrait done of myself I would most definitely opt for a photographer who doesn’t know me very well. I certainly would not want my wife to have the ability to complete a painting of that subject!
Picasso and his fellow Cubist artists did something quite ingenious in response to the understanding of the carnal human nature. The subject matter was disassembled and then reassembled in a simplified way. Essentially the image was reduced a collage of cylinders, planes, angles, and curves.
The most riveting example is Picasso’s Guernica (pictured above). A few evenings ago as I began to put words to these thoughts I showed Joan a print of it that my mom brought me from a recent trip to Spain. Although Joan obviously knew the name of the artist all she could say about his work is “he’s that guy that put people’s noses on the side of their face.” Anyway I had her look at the image, gave her the date it was completed, and asked her to tell me what it was about. She nailed it and it only took about 5 seconds of thinking: atrocities of war. Simple images describing a complicated theme.
Isn’t that what most of us “normal” people strive for? Simple solutions for complicated problems. Easy understanding of difficult circumstances. In the case of our “normal” children, despite their complex lives we eventually reach a point that we can educate, communicate, and understand our kids in fairly simple terms. That is never the case in dealing with the exceptional child.
This subject obviously is much more complicated than I anticipated. I'm still constructing Part 3. I think it will come together for you tomorrow (perhaps even later tonight). Currently I'm working furiously at building a substantial inventory of prints to carry with me the next three weekends. This weekend I'll be at Art in the Park in downtown Myrtle Beach, SC.