thank you T.I.P. and brightpearl - what fantastic posts, and great juxtapositions! Lots to absorb and respond to later.
I especially enjoyed browsing through the Rubin Museum of Art
link - the "collections"
section is really well done - fascinating to zoom into the details, and some of the mandelas were strikingly similar to Louis Wain's cats
It brings to mind a third-grader I know who was in one of the classes I was teaching through this amazing volunteer Art Literacy program in place at my kid's elementary school (example)
This was a kid I've had for a couple of years as a "reading buddy" to get him up to speed, and I suspected he was dyslexic. This guy would come to school in dirty torn clothes, dirty face, etc. and conversations I'd had with him in the past seemed to point to the fact that home was, well, not such a great place.
We were studying Andy Warhol, and the project was to draw 4 identical portraits from a picture of the school principal with carbon paper, arrange them on a page, then to infuse them with colors they wouldn't normally use for faces. Most kids followed the instructions like good little drones, but Kyle's was completely off the map - he'd drawn the face of a monster - and not a funny one either. It was obvious that he was working something dark out.
A segment of the teaching time is always devoted to the students critiquing each other's work. He was withdrawn - no one, especially some of the adults, ever liked to point his stuff out, and no one was about to this time. But this time I made a point to draw everyone's attention to the "rule breaker" and how imaginative his piece was, and how, out of all the pictures in the room, his was the most personal and powerful. I will never forget how his face broke into a huge smile as students started to talk thoughtfully about it and take it seriously.
Of course there's something so tragic about Louis Wain's work, and others like him - but such incredible, healing beauty that transcends the suffering.