@TheodoreArt's pic of parents "critiquing" a Judd.

@TheodoreArt’s pic of parents “critiquing” a Judd.

Bushwick gallerist Stephanie Theodore is at the Tate Modern today and spotted this hilarious/sad/incredible/unbelievable (so many mixed emotions) scene of parents allowing their child to use a Donald Judd sculpture as a … er … a bunk bed.

In response to my question of whether she actually took this almost-hard-to-believe scene, she responded:

yes. I told the woman the the kids were using a $10mm art work as a toy, she told me I knew nothing abt kids. Obv she doesn’t either

Theodore mentioned she told the staff about the couple’s actions and the Tate was grateful for the tip. But let’s face it, this type of thing isn’t as rare as one might think. The work in the photo appears to be Donald Judd’s “Untitled” (1980), but I haven’t been able to verify that.

No word if Ikea will be considering a new line of children’s bunk beds inspired by Judd. Fingers crossed!

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

191 replies on “What NOT to Do with Kids in a Museum”

  1. I think those kids have the right idea, it looks like every playground ladder they’ve ever seen just jutting out of the wall. I’d really like to see an exhibit where artists re-create all of the most “precious” art objects with materials that enable physical interaction.

    1. that would be AMAZZZZZINGGGGG – race you to the Eva Hesse rope climb !!! just don’t hurt yourself playing on the Sol Lewitt jungle gym…

    2. kinda interesting to see the various tensions that sometimes arise when the kids play on–as they are invited to but not everyone knows it–the Franz Wests at the local museum–the sidelong looks and stuff.

  2. I once was in a museum with a display of William Morris (Morris & Co) furniture in which some parents allowed their young children to climb all over the furniture!

  3. Sigh. What do you expect from a mother who wears ears on her hat and thinks she’s edgy?
    (I actually wish the installation had broken, and then the oblivious parents would have had a clearer idea of why someone shouldn’t abuse another person’s property.)

    1. Sigh. What do you expect from a person who thinks they can judge others based solely on their hats?

      The snobbery on display in these comments would be laugh-out-loud funny if y’all weren’t taking yourselves so seriously.

  4. I once saw a child jump on a sculpture that looked like a couch. Except the entire sculpture was made of fiberglass insulation. The parents had a similar reaction to this mother, but maybe they at least felt differently a bit later that evening when the child was in terrible pain.

  5. Well, no, it’s certainly not right to allow your children to abuse art. But why is no one mentioning that this particular art is garbage and is barely worth the materials from which it was made?

    1. Because some people like Donald Judd and don’t think it is garbage. What should a work of art look like?

      1. Frankly, this piece looks like the most expensive piece of jungle gym equipment ever made — which is probably why the kid did what he did in the first place. You make art that looks like a jungle gym, and kids are going to think it’s a jungle gym.

        1. Of course kids are going to climb on stuff if you let them. And artist are going to make anything they want. It’s just a gallery and parenting issue. Judd won’t care as he’s dead, but the cost of the work is what it is, whether one likes it or not.

        2. There was an installation at the DIA when I was little that involved stones laid on the floor basically like an unfinished garden path. Was it art? Only in the broadest definition, yes and yes, even at the time I thought it was rather silly. Would my parents still have tanned my idiot hide if I’d played ‘the floor is lava’ on it as would be pretty darned tempting to a kid? Damn straight and the right thing to do. Kids who can’t get from one spoken “Don’t touch” to NOT EFFING TOUCH need to be on a leash and their parents need to be sent back to remedial parenting 101.

    2. How is this a comment on hyperallergic? One place I thought for sure would be a refuge from this sort of bile

    1. And you wonder why young people have no appreciation for art. Your comment makes about as much sense as saying, “I wish people would stop bringing their kids to school. I teach to get away from kids.”

          1. No, it’s not. Context is the key word here. When JewelEyedGamerGirl
            said “School exists for children” she was OBVIOUSLY AND SPECIFICALLY referring to grade school. If you don’t get that, I can’t help you. Sorry.

          2. Even in Nathaniel’s post (“‘I wish people would stop bringing their kids to school'”) the context (gradeschool, maybe high school) is abundantly clear. We are obviously talking about kids here, and kids go to grade school. Suggesting otherwise is, frankly, a red herring and/or just being willfully ignorant.

            Or did you really think that Nathaniel’s meant to say “I wish people would stop bringing their young kids to college and university,”?

          3. I am horrified that you teach at a college and have such obvious contempt for conceptual work you don’t like. I think Judd was an ass, and I don’t personally like that piece, but I get why it is important because I have read and thought critically about it. If you aren’t willing to take the time to do that before sharing your ignorant opinion, maybe you should reconsider academia and scholarship.

          4. Since when is offering a different conceptual interpretation of work (that to me it looks like a piece of playground equipment) the same as “obvious contempt”? Or is it that only interpretations already accepted by the cultural elite are to be venerated, while a diversity of interpretations is to be denigrated? It seems to me that you have obvious contempt for conceptual frameworks that you don’t like, e.g. the framework that sees Judd’s piece as a ladder of rectangular blocks.

        1. My son is four years old and he loves going to the art museum, he is starting to learn artist names, materials, and he knows not to touch the art. So kids can learn to appreciate and respect art if their parents do too.

        2. Kids can absolutely appreciate art. Yes, these parents behaved deplorably in allowing their kid to climb on a sculpture, but it’s ridiculous to assume that kids don’t appreciate art. I grew up going to art museums, and I have vivid memories of particular pieces that fascinated, confused, or (in a couple of cases) terrified me. This child needs to be taught respect for property in general and art in particular, but it’s ridiculous to assume that art has no place in children’s lives.

          1. Sorry I misinterpreted. The problem with comments is that there is no room for nuance or inflection.

          2. Yep. In my case, I *was* once encouraged by my parents to break the “Do not Touch” rule( I think it may have been this painting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jean-Baptiste_Greuze_The_White_Hat_2120759508.jpg, but as I was not in Boston I may be in error. It was this artist and had a female subject, though) but it was done with an understanding that this was a very special thing to be very gentle about this once and never, ever, do again, and made a huge impression on me that enabled me to far more greatly appreciate art and antiquities and be inspired to create my own.

            But there is no way you can just let a kid climb on a thing in a way that it is likely to break it. I would have been in huge trouble being anything but gentle and quiet at ANY age.

        3. Actually…parents have not taught their children RESPECT.
          Respect for the art, for the time to took to create it, for the fact that it even merits being shown in a gallery or Museum.
          And it shows the adults’ ignorance too, as for what is consider ill-mannered behavior by their children whom they fail to instruct or God forbid, fail to reign in.
          Sorry, not all parents are self-absorbed, entitled or lacking in social graces, but they seem few and far between, these days.

      1. Pretty sure that’s Nathaniel’s kid up there ruining the art piece. Can’t see any other reason why he’d think it’s ok to jack up someone else’s property unless he was the jerkwad allowing it to happen.

      2. Someone should make an art installation piece that resembles a daycare in the lobby of every art museum, and all the children should be kept in there until they can control themselves.

        Another installation beside it will resemble a Starbucks and the parents of these children will be kept there.

      3. I wish idiots would stop breeding – fewer people and children would be an absolutely GREAT thing

    2. Wow. Really? Just stop bringing kids to see art? There are multiple failures going on in the picture. First is the obvious the child should know better, has probably been told that this isn’t acceptable behavior and is still doing it. Second is clearly the parents here for allowing, reinforcing and defending their child’s behavior. There’s is also the idea that the museum or gallery should be offering resources to allow the family to engage with their collection, even challenging works of art like this Judd piece.

      But to say that you shouldn’t bring kids to an art show is to be a champion the death of your own practice by alienating a generation and furthering stereotypes of who and what art is for.

      I’m a museum educator and this is exactly what my job is, to create experiences and avenues that make this behavior and your attitude irrelevant in a museum or gallery. The institution i work for has this exact piece and we’ve never had this problem. Sure kids touch art, so do adults. But there is a way to react as a museum professional or even just an artist out in public that bolsters the work you do and the community you’re a part of. The reaction doesn’t involve being a cranky old get off my lawn no funbag.


      1. i developed my appreciation for art without going to a gallery or museum until I was eight years old. by then i was enough to know not to touch the art and that there would be consequences if i did so. not everything is for kids.

        1. So you went as a kid that looks to be near the age of the kid in the picture. Sure not every thing is family friendly, but we’re talking about major art museums, they’re for everyone.

          1. that’s a small eight year old. i developed my appreciation for art by actually doing it before adults thought that children my age would be able to go en masse into an art museum with a minimum of problems. the difference between the way a kid interacts with the world at four is very different than at eight, there just isn’t any denying that. temper a well-rounded creative education to that understanding, is all i’m saying.

    3. hi guido: as an nyc dad of three and an artist I would have to disagree about bringing kids to shows but do indeed think that if kids can’t be controlled from touching they goota go

  6. I see this type of behavior everywhere. And I am talking about the parents, not the kids. Of course kids are going to want to jump on cool art that looks like playground equipment, talk about things they see during a show, throw sand at the beach, touch flora and fauna they should leave alone, etc, etc, etc. I am always floored when parents do nothing to teach their kids to respect surroundings or educate them about appropriate behavior in public places. More often than not they whip out a camera and take a video of the bad behavior.

    I am glad someone called these people out. I am surprised the museum staff didn’t step in…

  7. LOL! Look at that sweet little rosy-cheeked English cherub with a finger in her/his nose! A lot of childless knickers in a knot over this little urchin. “Get down from there now!” Problem solved.

  8. LOL! Look at that sweet little rosy-cheeked cherub with a finger in her/his nose! A lot of childless knickers in a knot over this urchin. “Get down from there now!” Problem solved.

  9. We recently saw a family of tourists at the Cloisters touching every single sculpture and artifact. The guards didn’t seem to notice. So I asked them to please stop touching the art, and they looked at me with such contempt. Even after asking, the parents did nothing. Then they went into the Unicorn Tapestries room and set off every single proximity alarm.

    1. Yet much recent work in medieval art history has shown just how tactile much of medieval art was supposed to be — you are supposed to touch and interact with the plastic arts, as that interaction was part of many objects’ devotional ductus.

      Creating utterly antiseptic barriers between us and artifacts that were supposed to be intimately connected to our lives plays into the same construction of alienating alterity as the conspiracy theories of Dan Brown.

      1. Are you really suggesting that 600 year old fabrics would hold up well under the touching and tugging of crowds of museum goers?

        1. I was referring mostly to carved devotional objects; I would not suggest that people start pulling tapestries to threads.

          Are you, in turn, suggesting that the folks at the Vatican should rope off the medieval bronze statue of St. Peter to keep pilgrims from touching his foot, as they have done with love and devotion for centuries? Another person above declared that the artist’s intention for an artwork should govern all (which is why the kid was amiss in abusing the sculpture). Yet, the artistic intention of many medieval devotional objects did, in fact, involve tactile interactions.

          1. Carved devotional objects are a different matter, then. But suggesting that because whoever made those tapestries centuries ago intended for them to be touched means that we should still be allowing people, including children, to touch them is just silly.

            If art (like this sculpture) was not made with the intention of children climbing on it, then children should not be climbing on it. Seems simple.

          2. You’re comparing a fabric with bronze. One will hold up against centuries of rubbing better than the other.
            The popularity (or lack, thereof) of your comments speaks volumes.

      2. Old art can be REALLY delicate, Nathaniel. We really hurt the cave paintings in Lescaux, for example, just by breathing. Best to follow the “do not touch” signs because scientists and art directors probably know better than random parents…

        1. There seems to be quite a lot of confusion in these comments that all art must be treated indiscrimately the same — hands off! There is a vast difference in the ability of a piece of artwork to withstand handling if it’s a marble statue or if it’s an ancient wall-painting. Furthermore, painting is fundamentally a visual medium, so it does not invite tactile experience the same way sculpture does.

          Edited to add: I first posted this comment above, meaning for it to be here; I tried deleting the above comment and moving it to here, but for reasons which I do not understand, Disqus has maintained the first post as by “Guest”.

          1. Just don’t touch it, Nathaniel. There are plenty of things you can touch every day that isn’t art in a museum that someone has asked you NOT to touch. I appreciate that you’re “challenging conventional art” like some kind of visionary but really, if you’ve been asked not to touch it, just don’t. Don’t let your kids touch it. Don’t try to convince an artist or a museum creator that people should be allowed to get their sweat and oils all over it. If you want more art out there that people can touch, get to work making art that people can touch.

          2. I find it most interesting that you assume that I actually walk around the Cloisters fingering every exhibit. Mine is a call for a broader conversation about how we interact with art — but it is not necessarily a call to do so cavalierly. (Temperance is often the first virtue lost in online comments.)

          3. Well the problem is that you can’t say “well it’s okay to touch it a little bit, but not that much, but as much as you want, if you want, just maybe not every exhibit”. ESPECIALLY when kids are involved, because kids have crappy self control and sometimes it really is better to just say “no” than it to say “yes, but” and try to explain the acceptable limits for every exhibit.

            I mean, the kid in the photo – he is not gently touching the art to get a feel for its texture. He’s laying on it.

      3. Are you completely stupid or something? These relics would be destroyed within DAYS if people started handling them all the time.

        Lascaux was IRREVERSIBLY damaged because of people bringing in spores and breathing. So imagine if some kid started putting his dirty hands all over it!

        1. Please refrain from name calling. We understand this can be an emotional discussion, particularly for people charged with caring for art, but we would prefer a discussion without calling people names.

        2. There seems to be quite a lot of confusion in these comments that all
          art must be treated absolutely the same — hands off! There is a vast
          difference in the ability of a piece of artwork to withstand handling if
          it’s a marble statue or if it’s a 500-year-old tapestry. Likewise, painting is fundamentally a visual medium, so it does not invite tactile experience the same way sculpture does.

          1. Not a single person has said that. There is, however, only one way to treat art and that is the way that you were requested to treat it by people who know far more about it than you do, and/or who spent money on it. If they don’t want you to touch it, don’t touch it, even if it’s indestructible. That’s called respect! Otherwise it’s like going to someone’s home and refusing to take your shoes off because they aren’t dirty. Take your shoes off if your host asks you to.

          2. Exactly. Some things are for touching, some are not. Nathaniel seems hell-bent on applying a “one rule for all” approach to interacting with art.

          1. As someone whose bio says that they are a medievalist, surely you realize that valuable books were treated as precious objects and only handled by a trusted few in the past…the concept of a public library only came to exist after the printing press enabled mass production.
            The same goes for personal devotional works of art. In the past they were kept in places with limited access–the owner or keeper interacted with it and was responsible for its maintenance. Not every piece was rubbed by any person willing to enter a public building.
            I appreciate your democratic impulse, but if we don’t preserve work now, it will not be available for future generations. If you have reason to handle a work of art or read a rare book, I’m sure you can contact its keepers to work out special arrangements. Otherwise, those entrusted with their safety may have a rotating schedule of display to prevent damage.

  10. Having children does not give you a free pass to be an asshole and ignore the well known and understood rules of DO NOT TOUCH THINGS THAT ARE NOT YOURS.

  11. As a mother of two under 7’s and also being a collections manager at a family friendly art museum I can see both issues here. I have taught my children oodles of respect for art and museums but have still had cringingly awful visits to nationally recognised art institutions (mention no names!) where we have been made to feel very unwelcome when just walking, talking and looking! There has to be a balance! With art being seen as not core in the curriculum anymore we have to teach our children about it somehow, so families should be welcome in museums and to ‘experience’ art. These parents obviously need education about how to access art and this should come from the museum! One massive positive about this happening is that it has promoted healthy discussion 🙂

    1. My daughter (7 years old) now declares that she doesn’t like art museums because of the constant harping she got from jittery, hypersensitive guards when we recently visited a fine arts museum. It was maddening! I’ll keep taking her and eventually we’ll get past it, but it was so disappointing.

      And mind you, we were close on her heels the entire time. There was no running amok, touching of art, or anything remotely of that sort. I have to think the guards are conditioned to be so sensitive by children who DO behave badly, but as you say there must be a balance.

      1. I kind of understand, though. The guards weren’t born that way, they were MADE that way by disrespectful parents and by kids being kids. I was a guitar store the other day and there was a father with his daughter who was about 3 I guess? She was walking and talking but still quite little. She wanted to touch everything and her dad respectfully redirected her towards things she could touch (like wood drums, benches, etc) and kept a very close eye (and usually a hand) on her. Nevertheless, though, she did bounce off of a few guitars and other easily damaged equipment. Kids are just like that, they move around and fall and have poor coordination, and it’s even worse in the winter when they are wearing huge snow suits. Even though the dad was on her like a hawk, everyone in the store was visibly tense, and winced whenever she stumbled or waddled out of his grasp for even a second.

        Seven is a lot older than 3-4, I realize, but to the childless, it can all seem the same. I have no idea if kids are 2 or 6, sometimes.

  12. I once witnessed an equivalent scene in MoMA: a child (girl) climbing stacks by Donald Judd… Children seem to love having fun with Don !

    1. It’s funny because his polemics are so anti-human, but his work certainly seems to inspire a desire to interact–the tension of being absolutely not allowed seems to be part of what makes it compelling to me.

  13. At least the kids knew how to enjoy the art, instead of smugly pretending to understand exactly why it’s worth $10mm.

    Some parents suck. Some kids suck. This parent is exhausted by the recent spate of being targeted as the Pariah Demographic Du Jour.

    1. The kid is NOT enjoying art , he’s fucking CLIMBING into it
      He treats a 10 M dollars piece as some ghetto park playset!

        1. IT’S COMMON SENSE!

          Do you “ENJOY” window shopping by rubbing the clothes all over you? Do you “enjoy” test-driving cars by deliberately ramming them into trees? NO. So why is it normal to think a person should be able to “enjoy” art by DAMAGING it?!

    2. And I’m sure that if you had a gallery presenting your pictures that you’d love children to grab at those prints and risk ripping them or worse.
      I’m sure you wouldn’t be at all protective.

      It’s not “enjoying” the art if you’re risking damaging it, how do you think they’d feel if “enjoying” the art costed them 10 million dollars?

      1. Even if there’s no risk of damaging it, don’t touch it if you’re asked not to. That’s just being respectful. If you want to touch it, buy it yourself and touch it all you want. Or make your own. Or visit an exhibit that welcomes physical interaction with art.

        1. That, more than anything. I forgot to mention that, apologies.
          It’s one thing to have a sculpture in public, such as a statue in a park, which could be touched and so on as it’s out in the open and the public without any actual owner (owned by the city, but that’s the same as being owned by everyone on some level).
          It’s another to go behind closed doors and touch and lie on exhibits.

  14. Er I think you’ll find its called Visual Art as in not Touchy Art or Feely Art, or pokey or climb on. Think I may go to their house and use his car bonnet as a sofa, they they may understand why its wrong. Its a simple case of how these things work generally. A coffee cup has a handle to help lift the drink to your mouth, that’s it function. A object in a GALLERY may look like a shelf but notice the place, context, you need to aware it not meant as being a bed for your little precious, its not its primary function and reason it’s there. These kind of people are selfish as they potentially affect how this work was intended to be view by all of us. family in picture, sorry, I know your not used to people telling you this, but it’s not all about you x. I think some of comments by parents need to be balanced by a little realisation these are unique objects hence the need to witness them, not pieces of mass made tat! How do you replace the work by someone who is dead for example?

    1. You make a very interesting, if unexamined, assumption: what if we make art that is supposed to be touched? Why is art–especially plastic art (in the old-time sense of three-dimensional art)–assumed to be visual only? Why do we limit our sensation of art to just one of the senses? What a boring piece of art that is only to be seen but not felt, tasted, digested, experienced!

        1. Notice that I specified the plastic arts — though apparently, some folks around here don’t know that traditional terminology, so to clarify: “the plastic arts” refer to sculpture (broadly defined), from the Greek adjective plastikos, which refers to an object’s ability to molded in wax or clay.

      1. Please stop positing your obvious contempt for art you don’t understand as “Oh, but what if we broke the RULES of art!” If you want to make art that is designed to be touched, go ahead — you wouldn’t be the first. But nobody except for the artist gets to decide what is supposed to be done with their own works of art. If Donald Judd didn’t intend for this piece to be a tactile experience, then touching it is not necessary for experiencing it, plain and simple. If that makes it boring to you, then it’s boring to you, but you don’t get to defy the artist’s intention to suit your wishes.

        1. “Nobody except for the artist gets to decide what is supposed to be done with their own works of art.”

          Really? So Phidias has been deciding for more than two millennia the fate of the Parthenon frieze? And the sculptors of the Laocoon and the Belvedere Apollo intended them to be in the Vatican for Michelangelo to draw 1500 years later?

          It is, I suppose, a position of purity that thinks that the author has absolute control over their artwork, but it is also one that grossly ignores the reality of art. The moment the art has left the artist, it enters a myriad world of intentions and interactions quite beyond the artist’s firm control. The artist can certainly put much into the work’s rhetorical ductus, its own structural pathways of interpretative journey; but those interpretative journeys will still be as myriad as the audience of the artwork.

          What makes artwork continue to live beyond its own time of production is that each successive generation does, in fact, reinterpret it, bring to it new meanings and new intentions. The piece of artwork that remains hermetically sealed within “the author’s intention” is the piece of artwork that never affects anyone else — for to affect another involves being affected in return.

          1. I don’t believe you need to be affected in order for a work you create to affect someone else. There are pieces of art that have left me a broken-down mess crying on the floor, and the creator doesn’t even know I exist. That’s cool. I mean, yes, things that happen to you have a profound affect on your art in the future, but that doesn’t at all need to come from the consumers of your work in order to affect future observers.

            Also, “reinterpreting” is fine. Coming up with a new moral, message, or meaning is fine. But there’s a big difference between “I interpret this as being similar to a piece of playground equipment, therefore (it represents lost childhood/repetition in daily life/X whatever).” and “I interpret this as being similar to a piece of playground equipment, therefore it’s acceptable to allow children to climb on it.” You are allowed to have your own opinion and interpretation of works of art, hell, that’s what makes discussions of them so interesting, but I’m not ripping Ansel Adams originals in half because I feel that they would be better interpreted in two pieces.

            (Also, if the ~ductus~ of the original creators doesn’t matter a lick, then why are you saying that we should all be allowed to touch medieval tapestries in museums because that’s the original ductus?)

          2. Likewise — if the ductus is all-imposing, than why shouldn’t we handle objects that were meant to be handled?

            But what I’m saying runs deeper than this either/or dichotomy: the power of art is dynamic precisely because of the way that art and audience interact — the one affecting the other (and it doesn’t matter which one is “the one” and which is “the other”). Your response to the artwork changes the art itself — which is why these metal blocks by Judd are worth $10 million and the metal blocks at my neighborhood playground are worth their weight in scrap.

          3. The blend and the bleed between elite culture and utilitarian objects is very nebulous, I agree, but the change doesn’t happen overnight, and the original purpose is still one of the most important things in determining which side it falls on. If Judd created this exact same sculpture, but put it in a park in NYC right next to the swings and the slide, nobody would freak out and alert people that children were climbing on it. Likewise, if the metal blocks from your neighbourhood playground were instead their own showcase at MoMA, it would be considered wildly inappropriate to play with them.

          4. That installation at the MoMA could turn a heap of metal worth its weight in scrap into a $10million piece of art tells you all you need to know about the superficial (and even ephemeral) world of “modern art”.

          5. Hey, maybe that’s what modern art itself represents — the beauty of the ephemera of life and how we can look at the same thing two different ways and see two different things depending on how we’re primed to view it!

            Or maybe you disagree with me. That’s cool. It’s great that two different people can have two different interpretations of an artwork, an art movement, or art in general! That’s doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to excuse behaviour that could cause damage to a highly valued work of art simply because you don’t want to hurt a child’s *~delicate spirit~*.

          6. And the beauty of the child above was that he could look at a $10 million installation of metal blocks and see it as a welcoming place to rest, sheltered from the world around him. He looked at the same thing and, being primed differently from others, he saw it as something else.

          7. If you wanna argue over the beauty of it, not only do I not really care to, I couldn’t, being that art is so subjective that it’s almost impossible to debate about whether or not something is “beautiful”. I will say, however, that this child’s enjoyment of the sculpture was not only interfering with other people who might have wanted to enjoy it sans child at the time, but also potentially with anybody who wanted to enjoy it in the future, had something happened to it.

            Again, I find no fault with the child, and a curious and creative spirit is an amazing thing; my issue is that the parents acted as if the child had an unalienable right to lie on a work of art in a museum.

            (Sorry about the long pause, by the way; my boyfriend came over and so I took a break for dinner. If you don’t wanna debate it anymore, that’s fine, just wanted to put my final two cents in.)

          8. More properly, it’s the owner of the work who gets to determine how it is experienced. Practically, this often means the artist, but obviously it doesn’t always. You’re playing with semantics here.

          9. Fine, the owner of the work has the control. The people who own this work (the museum) choose to respect the wishes of the artist and his estate (it is still under copyright). After it is sold and out of copyright, sure, it CAN be repurposed, depends on the philosophy of the owner/person entrusted with the work. Personally, I would argue for preservation; “Death of the Author” cannot mean also death of the work itself. It is complex with experimental, intentionally impermanent, and interactive work. The correct course of action for these works is being debated by scholars, critics, and artists.
            And you have every right to say whatever you want. You are certainly not brilliant or groundbreaking in asking the question. But no one will respect you if you are ignorant yet pretentious, and contemptuous of the work itself.

      2. Sorry I was so ‘unexamined’ yet interesting, may I refer you back to my comment of VISUAL Art of which minimalism is a sub-strata. While your continued reference to plastic art confuses me. While paradoxically I wrote a series of quotes for a fictional artist one of which is “the ultimate art is unseen, unheard, untasted but understood” which refers to reductionism in conceptual practice. I again reference Judd as looking as pure form in the context of linear progression of visual (a sub strata of Art). I don’t disagree, people like Carl Andre were happy with tactile inter-action which is more about questioning the existing boundaries for the definition of art as opposed to over riding the primary function of why something exists. I think you comment actually goes along the lines, A dog is a dog but why can’t sometimes it can behave like a cat or a boat, things have primary purpose, this is the intention of the artist, then to varying levels of responsibility a curator, a context, a social political placement, art history and then coming to this narrative, a viewer who through their own social conditioning decides to let their kids sleep on it.

        1. “The plastic arts” is the traditional term for sculpture (broadly defined); it comes from the Greek adjective plastikos, which refers to an object’s ability to be molded in clay or wax. (You seem quite knowledgeable of art, so I’m surprised you’ve never learned its basic terminology.)

      3. There are all kinds of childrens museums with interactive displays that you can take your kids to, until they learn an appreciation for fine art, and realize that it’s only to be looked at and not touched. I’m a mother of two, and your attitude horrifies me.

        1. I fear I may not have expressed myself well, then, as I agree that the parents in this case should have told their child to get off and then explained to him the proper behavior expected in an art museum. When my children are old enough to start going to museums (in deference to the requests of others, I won’t write “musea”), they will not be allowed to touch things unless the museum has granted permission for such interaction.

          But as most of the comments in that vein were terribly abusive towards the parents (or to children in general, e.g. “I wish people would stop bringing their goddamn kids to art shows.”), I chose instead to use this as an opportunity to reflect on how the child’s reaction to the art could constitute its own interpretative response. A gallery of old masters is not the place for tactile interaction, I agree. But we do ourselves a disservice when we make broad generalizations that no art should be experienced except visually.

          1. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking kids to a museum. Mine have been going since they were in strollers, but they need to learn that they can’t touch everything they see. Take your kids now, and explain to them why they can’t touch, they will likely understand. If they throw a fit, then try next year and stick to the childrens exhibits.
            Unfortunately, there are so many bad parents around that it colours the view of other people (parents included) that they get a knee jerk response from even seeing a child at a place like this. I’m sure you won’t be one of those parents who makes the people at the places they visit, sigh and reach for a Tylenol. 😉

      4. You know that Meret Oppenheim fur tea cup? Isn’t that meant to be touched? I mean it’s all furry and tactile and everything. And yet the oppressive museum hegemony tells us it’s hands off!

  15. This type of behavior isn’t limited to children. I’m a museum educator and I’ve seen a woman sit on a small Richard Serra sculpture thinking it was a bench, I’ve seen people put their brief cases down on Donald Judd works. I’ve seen someone knock on a Richard Deacon sculpture with a cane.

    1. But why are such interpretative responses to be scorned? If a sculpture looks so much like a bench that a person mistakes if for one, isn’t that person making their own interpretative statement about the art? And shouldn’t that tell us something about the affect of the work upon the audience?

      1. Are you replying to every single post? Seriously. Are those your kids in the picture? I have a great idea. How about if it doesn’t belong to you, don’t touch it unless it has a sign that says Touch Me?

        1. As I’ve already pointed out elsewhere, I agree that the parents should have told the child to get off the sculpture and taught him about proper decorum in a museum. But then I’ve asked us to consider going further, to think about what the child’s interpretation of the sculpture can tell us about its artistic effect.

          Apparently, I misjudged this crowd. It wanted a forum to beat up on the parents, but it didn’t want to have to deal with deeper questions of artistic interpretation. I apologize for crashing the party.

          1. The entire article was about the parents allowing their child to do this, not about the child’s interpretation. However, I’ve only seen one reply from you that suggested you wanted to discuss that. There is room on this feed for an adult conversation about art through a child’s eyes, but your upitty attitude and copy/paste replies shut that down really quick.

          2. But it’s not about questions of deeper artistic interpretation. It’s about respecting the artist. I would be absolutely furious if some random parents let their child ruin, or potentially ruin, one of my paintings, even though pretentious latinophiles could argue that the child was simply interpreting it differently. And in my case, there’s not even a risk of losing millions of dollars in the process.

            So yeah. I agree that we should be open for new interpretations. But don’t go overboard and be disrespectful to the people who actually care.

          3. Go read some Barthes or take a basic course in contemporary art and have your debate. You aren’t asking wrong (or new) questions, but you are applying them to a irrelevant situation while dismissing the value of the work.

      2. It’s not that the child’s “interpretation” is to be scorned. If the child thinks that the piece looks like a bench, there are plenty of ways to engage him in a conversation about why he interprets the piece that way and encourage him in thinking critically about art without scorning him, but also without allowing him to treat it in an inappropriate and disrespectful way. In fact, I’d be willing to go out on a limb and argue that most parents realize this and would do just that.

        Not long ago, I went to the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the MFA in Boston. If I had “interpreted” one of his glass bowls as a perfect receptacle out of which to eat my lunch and proceeded to dump a Cobb salad into it, would you argue that museum employees would have been out of line in telling me to stop because I was just “interpreting” the art in a different way? No, of course not–because I’m an adult and would know better. But we bring children to museums, restaurants, movies etc. partly as a way of teaching them how to behave in places like this, and judging from the picture, the child is old enough to learn that you can interpret art in your own way without treating it in an inappropriate and disrespectful manner.

  16. First, call me a snob all you like Nathaniel, that hat is ridiculous. I mean really.

    Second, saying that art is meant to be touched/tasted experienced does not mean every kid with her finger up her nose should go climb it like a rock wall, smearing some leftover lunchtime jelly on it for good measure. Sometimes it’s a appropriate and sometimes it isn’t, and the audacity of random parents, rather than the artist or the museum that has insured it, to decide their precious pumpkins should be allowed to run wild is stunning.

    Well behaved children should go everywhere, experience everything. Ill behaved children should get their parents sent to parenting school.

    1. It is ridiculous, lol. I really don’t know what statement she is trying to evoke other than immaturity/grasping futility at her passing youth, lol. I’m sorry honey, it’s long gone…

        1. By wearing the silly hat, she is trying to put herself on the same level as her child, as a bff and not a mother. best friends condone bad behavior, and even participate., but a mom would say, “get off that before you break it!” There are way too many parents who don’t parent anymore. They just let the kids run wild because they think if they “crush their spirit” (tell them to stop it) their kids won’t like them anymore. If your kids don’t hate you once in a while, then you are doing it wrong. I am a mother of two well adjusted successful adults. When they have kids, they will know how to raise them properly.

          1. I’m glad to know that you have such psychological acumen to be able to discern such deep and troubling motives from a grainy picture of a hat. I didn’t realize that we could make such judgments of a mother’s relationship to her child based solely on her clothing.

          2. You are judged by the choices you make. If you think about what I wrote, and the behavior of the mother not parenting her child, you will reach the same conclusion. It’s no so much just the hat, it is the situation surrounding it.

          3. As much as I disagree with your premise of judging someone on their hat, you are probably 100% correct in your assessment.

    2. The funny thing is that I agree with everything you’ve written here (except perhaps about the hat — de gustibus non disputandum). The problem has been the transgression from such a common sense approach to such laughably broad and scornful statements as, “I wish people would stop bringing their goddamn kids to art shows. I make art to get away from kids.”

      What we’ve seen in many of the comments here is the abandonment of a healthy appreciation for context in favor of pillorying all parents with children because of one small instance of questionable behavior. Moreover, we’ve seen ridiculous theories of “author’s intention” proffered to defend a static rather than dynamic interpretation of art and its work upon us.

      Rather than taking this as an opportunity to reflect on how people who are different from us see and experience art, the urge has been to clamp down within rigid hermeneutical categories. Should the child have been told to get off the sculpture? Yes. But should this become an excuse to run roughshod over a child’s sense of curiosity and discovery? No.

      I just hope for this child’s sake that he never reads the horrible things written about him in these comments, as they would steal away that curiosity and replace it with a lifelong fear to explore new things, as well as a disdain for the “art culture” that could so abuse him.

      1. I know you’re trying to cultivate an air of “well-refined taste and intelligence” by saying “There’s no accounting for taste” in Latin, but honestly it just comes off as you either a.) showing off your Latin knowledge (yes I know you’re a teacher and that’s what you get paid to do) or b.) intentionally trying to muddle your comment so it gets called out less.

        Do I feel the child is in the wrong here? No, not really. Yes, it’s wrong to lie on an expensive sculpture, but honestly, children don’t know any better. The person in the wrong here are the parents, who act like this kind of behaviour shouldn’t be corrected simply because “children don’t know any better”. The incident could have been prevented with a “look, but don’t touch” before the museum-going began. Children have resilient spirits. Telling a child that “it’s not OK to lay down on works of art” isn’t going to “abuse” him or destroy him for life.

        Also, I feel like you’re talking about me with your whole air-of-superiority “ridiculous theories of ‘author intention'” stuff. (That’s the whole reason I’m replying.) Dynamic and multifaceted interpretation of art is one of the things that makes art so great, but we shouldn’t be allowed to do things that could damage or destroy a work of art simply because that’s the interpretation du jour. (See, I can do fancy language stuff too!)

        1. It’s interesting that you (and others here) have interpreted my use of Latinate plurals and phrases as an affectation, a putting-on of airs. The thing is, their use comes naturally to me. The affectation would, in fact, be for me to consciously shed their use in order to “dumb down” my writing.

          Otherwise, I think we are (surprisingly, it may seem) in substantial agreement over the basic issues: (1) children should be taught to follow the rules, especially when it comes to art that their misbehavior could damage; (2) “dynamic and multifaceted interpretation of art is one of the things that makes art so great.”

          Where we seem to differ is in tone: should the discipline of the child be in tones abusive or nurturing? Should we use this situation as an opportunity to beat up on parents with poor fashion sense, whom we judge clearly to be ill-fit to visit a museum? Or should we use this situation as an opportunity to reflect on how even children, with their grubby hands, can teach us new ways of looking at the world? Should our attitude to “multifaceted interpretation” be one that shuns the new and unexpected, or welcomes it with thoughtfulness and charity?

          I have, indeed, been rather more provocative in many of these comments than is my norm, and it is because my indignation was set off by two particular comments that, to me at least, betray a tone of arrogance and scorn, rather than one of openness and tolerance:
          (1) The disapprobation concerning the mother’s hat. If the best we can do is mock a person’s clothing, then our discussion of more serious issues seems deeply in peril.
          (2) The comment that kids should be kept out of art exhibits just because the commenter doesn’t like kids. We do not build a better society by shutting out people we don’t like; we build a better society by being open to the new experiences that people who are different from us can bring. And most certainly, we destroy society when we look upon children as liabilities, rather than potentialities.

          1. I’m fine with the mother’s hat. I’m fine with the child in the art exhibit as long as the child is behaving appropriately. (i.e. not doing things that could damage works of art or substantially interrupt the enjoyment of the other people at the museum, like screaming or running around so much they trip somebody.) I believe that looking at art from different perspectives and in new ways can definitely open our minds to new possibilities, but we can’t have an “anything goes” attitude if included in that “anything” are actions that could potentially damage the work of art. If the mother had said to the child “Come down from there, that’s not for laying on”, I would have lauded her for her good parenting, had I heard about it. (I doubt I would have; those things aren’t considered newsworthy.) But the fact that she was so cavalier towards her child taking action that could put the sculpture at risk is what gets me (and most of the people on here) and actions that could cost a museum $10mm dollars must be seen as a liability, no matter who they come from. (The child, however, should never be seen as a liability.)

            Also, Latin phrases will always come off as an affectation. I’m not suggesting you “dumb down” your speech, but readiness to use phrases from other languages when you don’t know your audience, and can’t reasonably expect them to pick up on them, is kind of bourgeois. It’s like an attitude of “I expect the people in this internet comment section to be cultured.” Nothing personal, just too many internet d-bags eager to prove how “intelligent” they are.

          2. I guess I did expect people who read “a forum for playful, serious, and radical perspectives on art and culture in the world today” (to quote from Hyperallergic’s “About” page) to be not only cultured but also magnanimous and tolerant of diverse points of view.

          3. Well, people in comment sections will always find a way to lower themselves past any kind of expectation. Trust me, that’s a fundamental rule of the internet.

          4. I’m sure a lot of the people here are only here because a link to it got shared on Facebook or similar sites, I know I am.

    3. I’m finding the hat to be a symbol for the entitled disrespect that the child and parents are expressing toward art, artists, and museums. may the hat end up photoshopped ad infinitum into bizarre scenarios and placed on thousands of tumblrs around the internet.

  17. The general consensus here seems to be:
    1. Art is to be looked at, but not experienced in any other way. People who suggest finding new ways to experience art are to be denounced by the elite as the moral degenerates they clearly are.
    2. Art is not for children. Only adults who belong to the elite may enjoy art. People who aren’t part of the elite are not welcome in our musea (except as janitors and security guards, of course).

    1. Oh, get a grip. Don’t be such a martyr!
      1. There is lots of art that is meant to be touched, tasted, heard and smelled. If that’s your jam, go find that stuff and knock yourself out.
      2. There are lots of museums that are kid-friendly, filled with art that is kid-friendly. If you have kids, go there. If you want to take your kids to grownup museums, go for it, just don’t let your kids disrespect the art, the artists, the staff etc by letting them interact with the art in a way that they have been asked not to (either by signage or verbally).

      This is REALLY simple. If you still don’t get it, I can’t help you. Sorry.

    2. Also, your attempt to sound educated by using “musea” as the plural form of “museum” is kind of counteracted by your grammatical mistake less than 10 words later.

      1. Thank you for catching the spelling error (not a grammatical mistake). My use of the proper plural is because I’m a Latin teacher, not because I’m “attempting to sound educated”. (Well, I suppose it is that I am trying to sound educated, in the sense that I don’t purposely adopt barbarisms to sound less educated than I am; I know the proper plural of the noun “museum”, so to consciously avoid its use would be the more disingenuous option.)

        1. “Musea” is not THE proper plural of “museum”. English is made up of many languages. Insisting that some obscure, seldom-used word is the proper word is pointless. And vapid.

          It’s kind of beside the point, I suppose, but you’re REALLY working on cultivating this air of holier-than-thou martyr hipster who asks brilliant questions that no one has ever thought of before. The points you are trying to make aren’t the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard, but no one will ever take you seriously with that attitude, especially in this venue.

          1. Yeah, yeah. I live in the woods, I get it. But you can live in the woods and act like a normal person who lives in the real world, or you can live in the woods and act like a hipster douche who acts like he thinks he’s smarter than everyone else just because he thinks a comment section is the best place for some existential discussion about interacting with art, that is completely disassociated with the actual article/photo.

          2. I just have to chime in here, let’s think about how most art is produced and treated The vast majority of art is made to be archival and stand the test if time. Why? Well art has largely become an ivestment for the owner class and so they have dictated this value. It serves them and without much consideration why, most artist make work that fits in with this narrow and expensive way of working. It’s conservative, slow and inherently elite. These values are rarely questioned and when they are, by children, tired parents and Nathaniel, the response is overwhelmingly putative towards the questioner. Why are we so protective of the cultural gatekeepers and elite owners?
            I realize I am throwing a bit of a bomb here, but please consider this POV before telling me and Nathaniel to go elsewhere and to children’s museums. You just might be serving the status quo. How does it serve you?

          3. “Why are we so protective of the cultural gatekeepers and elite owners?”

            Because that’s the way the world works. I am not telling anyone to go elsewhere. Take your kids to “no touchy” museums if you want, but respect the wishes of the artist/owner/curator and don’t let your kids mess around with the exhibits. If you specifically want art you can paw and touch, it exists. Go find it. Or make it yourself. But don’t disrespect someone else’s artwork just because you don’t like the status quo.

          4. I’m not advocating a movement to go touch and deface art in museums, though I would enjoy such a thing. My real point is less juvenile. It’s that most artists make work that fits in so well with needs other then their own. We let others dictate almost everything. That is why art largely does not matter, and even worse, reenforces class divides, all the while enriching the tiny few that profit off others labor. If folks can’t see the larger issue here I am saddened.

          5. I understand and appreciate what you’re saying. The issue is that by taking the power from those who hold it currently would put us all in perpetuity at the mercy of the first person who decided to deface or destroy a work.
            Many artists are creating new work that confront these issues without making themselves dictators by destroying work or allowing others to. But I agree with you and struggle with my relationship to the commercial art world as well.

          6. Orly, thanks for actually engaging with the point I am trying to make. But I would not worry much about people destroying artwork. There is much security to prevent us peons from hurting precious investments. What this whole incident brings up is how quick we are to admonish and lambast some lazy parents. The real outrage for me is what this reaction symbolizes, namely an inability to see how most art these days is the opposite of creative. Just because you feel creative In your studio trying to create work that is relavent to the market does not mean you are making anything but fodder for the owner class at best, indulgent trash that never leaves storage at worst. If just some of us started to make work that responds to different needs and contexts it could really open things up. Whenever I suggest such a thing to “artists” I get a blank stare and a quick tune out.

          7. I’m sure your friends in “rural Appalachia” are totally impressed with your use of Latin and your $10 dollar vocabulary.

    3. I’m all for experiencing art in various ways and for children being exposed to art, but there are appropriate ways to do both. This type of thing is not one of them. It’s not elitism to expect that people follow certain standards of etiquette, especially when the primary purpose of said is to protect the physical well being of the art in question.

    4. Actually, I don’t think most people are saying anything even remotely close to that. There are plenty of places where hands-on art is available, but most people also recognize that some types of art are hands-on and some are not. If you want your child to experience hands-on art, then go to one of the many places (children’s museum or not) where that experience is available.

      And art most certainly is for children, but children–just like anyone else–need to be able to treat it in the manner intended, and many do just that. I’ve seen many children, younger than the kid in this picture, who are able to go to museums and behave appropriately and respectfully. The difference is parents who take the time to teach reasonable, age-appropriate expectations to their kids beforehand and reinforce them consistently. It’s really not that complicated, but it does take time and effort, which is why not everyone does it.

      The idea that “this is just how children are” and expecting children to show a basic level of manners and respect is tantamount to telling them they’re not welcome is, frankly, lazy and insulting to all the kids and parents who know that behavior like this is embarrassingly unacceptable.

  18. Ridiculous. Those parents should have been kicked out. Regardless of how anyone thinks this art should be experienced the rules are no touching, therefore those rules should be followed.

  19. The idea that a set of parents would let their child act like that is preposterous. Equally preposterous is the idea that a stack of metal boxes hung on a wall is worth $10million.

  20. Just because you call it art doesn’t make it art. The only moment this “art” was of any worth to the world was when a kid found a way to make it useful.

    1. I’m pretty sure that the rest of the world agrees. From now on, we will show all works of art to you to get your validation before determining wether we should put it in galleries or not.

  21. Income inequality at an all-time high since 1928, I believe, shootings occurring everyday and a small child climbing inappropriately on a sculpture causes this much uproar. 128 comments so far! Could our outrage be better spent? I would hope so.

    1. Pierre, I think the reason for all the heated comments is mostly political. Those who see art as indicative of the greater problems that surround us get a bit hot under the collar. Those that defend how things are use “politeness” and “respect” as code for STFU and accept how things are. True colors come out when folks want to defend an opaque fraudulent system that has served them well.

        1. Because of something called integrity. Just because you are good doesn’t mean things are good. Seems like you invented IGM.

          1. Things are fine, the world is improving, society is improving. Things just seem dramatic because people are dramatic and because of the internet. And I certainly don’t think that ceasing to respect other people’s property is a step in any good direction.

          2. Really? According to every statistic I read things are fine for less and less people. Art is almost meaningless outside of being an investment alternative for the owner class. I personally respect others property but also understand why one would not. The game is rigged and we need new paths. Feel free to repeat your mantra as much as you please just don’t get to bent when they pay no heed. Or get a job as museum guard so you can get paid for your strong moral convictions.

    2. Teen pregnancy is down, drug use is down, violent crime is down. So let’s all kick back and spend a few minutes discussing some kid climbing on someone’s artwork. The world will still be there to condescendingly fret over in few hours. Hopefully.

  22. You can discuss what art is and how it show be experienced as much as you want, it has nothing to do with parenting, which is at the core of the current issue. Parents who don’t keep their kids from touching everything they see in a museum don’t act that way because they feel like art should be touched, or because as someone said, the art on display is just expensive junk.

    They act that way because it is much easier than controlling their children.

    It is a mix of laziness, a sense of entitlement and disrespect.

    Regardless of what you think about art, defending this attitude is pretty chocking.

  23. You can discuss what art is and how it show be experienced as much as you want, it has nothing to do with parenting, which is at the core of the current issue. Parents who don’t keep their kids from touching everything they see in a museum don’t act that way because they feel like art should be touched, or because as someone said, the art on display is just expensive junk.

    They act that way because it is much easier than controlling their children.

    It is a mix of laziness, a sense of entitlement and disrespect.

    Regardless of what you think about art, defending this attitude is pretty chocking.

  24. “The greatest masterpiece ever produced is not worth the tears of a single child.” Dostoevsky.

    Hoipolloi Cassidy, Editor, Political Affairs
    WOID, a journal of visual language

  25. What’s even more hilarious in these kind of scenarios is parents shouting “No!! don’t touch that!! It’s ART!”
    At those moments, the children are the wiser ones.

  26. I think it does children good to be in spaces where they have to be respectful and maybe quiet. It is like the slowing down of rhythm and tempo (sorry not musical but you get what I mean!) in music, it creates pauses and acts as a contrast. An art gallery can be that “contrast” in this noisy, sense attacking world. It would be great if we could make children feel excited about these art gallery spaces, where there is a change of pace, where children and adults have to act differently. I am quite unhappy about museums and galleries where this “change of pace” has been taken away, where every room is an interactive fun fair. But neither do I want the warden-controlled, don’t breathe, speak, are you good enough to be here? atmosphere brought back. Just a place that makes young and old know that there is something special inside it and somewhere that gives us that pause in life ….

    1. I really appreciate the first part of your comment. I loved museums as a kid for just that reason–it was much more interesting to me than church, but had that same kind of otherworldly change in behavior. Some of the work that you don’t like, the “interactive fun fair” is, in some way, an attempt to recreate that sense of shift, it can be exciting to see people “misbehaving” in a museum. Some of it is too much “outreach” to appeal to overstimulated people with more stimulation.

  27. Trashy. Since when are your kids entitled to climb on shit that does not belong to you and you do not have the permission to do so?

  28. today you can’t tell a kid not do anything ….they are precious little creatures…mommy and daddy can’t say the word “no”…they later turn up in your classroom full of entitlement and arrogance…so cute.

  29. nothing to see here, folks…just another example of entitled parents raising entitled children. How precious.

  30. There used to be a Richard Serra sculpture called St. John’s Rotary Arc, which to the uninitiated might look like a big curved rusty wall, sited in the roundabout between Hudson and Varick where cars disgorge from the Holland Tunnel. I walked past it almost every day and almost every day the local sanitation workers would be using it as an unofficial storage space, leaving their brooms and other equipment propped up against it.

  31. Generally, children should stay off of art. Even in this case, it was wrong for the parents to allow their children to do whatever they want. It’s not their property.

    But, on a side note, this art is worth $10mm? To me, it’s only worth the material it’s made out of – not a single penny more. But that is my opinion.

  32. back in my day, an act like that wouldve meant a beatdown on the spot from my dad.

    its both an embarassment to the family and establishment.

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