Tyler Green
Art-focused Journalism by Tyler Green

Tyler Green Modern Art Notes

Maybe kids just love Frans Hals? (Adults too.)

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Jonathan Jones has a nice post over at his blog about the first painting he remembers from childhood (albeit second-hand), was a Frans Hals. (Curiously, the image with his post is this Rijksmuseum painting, not this Hals portrait, which Jones ID’s as ‘his first painting.’)

Jones’ post — and don’t miss his links — took me back to the first painting I remember from my childhood. It’s also a Hals, Portrait of a Member of the Haarlem Civic Guard (1636-38, at left). The painting is now at the National Gallery, one of the works that Andrew Mellon bought from the Hermitage collection by way of a deal with Joseph Stalin.

Like Jones, my first experience with ‘my Hals’ was with something other than the real deal. I was in fourth grade and my teacher, Miss Brown, showed us a color print of a Hals. (She also showed us a Monet, but I don’t remember which one.) She leaned the print up against the blackboard at the front of the classroom and told us to write a paragraph or two about who this man is, why he’s posed that way, why he’s clothed that way, and so on. I have no idea what I wrote (thank god), but every time I’m at the National Gallery I see that orange-red sash and suddenly I’m back in Miss Brown’s classroom…

Who else remembers ‘their first painting?’ Leave it in the comments here or tweet it to me!

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  1. Cameron says:

    I remember A LOT of Piet Mondrian from elementary school lessons on primary colors and “line.”

  2. Ed says:

    The first painting I remember seeing (strangely) was Franz Kline’s Black Cross at the Dallas Museum of Art.

  3. Matthew says:

    Cranach’s (the Elder) Three Graces at the Nelson Atkins.

  4. Mitchell Merling says:

    My first memory of an artwork was a Dubuffet cave made out of Hourloups. A primal experience.

  5. jan crooker says:

    I was a big fan of the El Greco’s at the Toledo Museum of Art. I loved the bright color and they were huge paintings. I was about 11.

  6. Meredith says:

    blue poles by jackson pollock – as a child I remember it because all the others in the gallery blurred, but this was so striking and the style was so different. (I did think I could paint it too but that never really worked out…)

  7. George says:

    The first painting I remember is the flawless portrait of the Princesse de Broglie by Ingres, then in the private collection of Robert Lehman and now in the Lehman Collection at the Metropolitan.

    I saw this in a book by Douglas Cooper, “Great Private Collections,” the only art book my parents had (then!).

  8. Douglas Britt says:

    Adolph Gottlieb’s Cadmium Red Over Black (1959) — saw it when I was 16 at the Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, now known as the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin. Surely I’d seen paintings before, but none that stuck in my head or made sense to me like this one.


  9. Janet Rosen says:

    The first IMAGE of a painting I recall: I was 5 when my parents scraped up the money for a 1960 World Book Encyclopedia set. I would sit on a chair in the living room with a volume in my lap – usually about animals, but then I found an article on art – probably Western painting or something – and there it was. A very small full color reproduction of El Greco’s Storm over Toledo.

  10. jen ambrose says:

    “Horse fair” by Rosa Beheur. It was used as an illustration in one of my elementary school reading books. I’m guessing second or third grade based on how thick I remember the book being. Like any American eight-year-old girl I was drawn to the subject (horses!).

    Twenty-five years later I was at the opening reception for Fierce Friends at the Carnegie Museum and this painting was included. I had never seen it in real life before. I was once again eight years old, loving the horses.

  11. Bernard Yenelouis says:

    Andy Warhol’s “A Boy For Meg” which was on loan to the Detroit Institute of Arts at the time. Now it is in the National Gallery.

  12. Megan says:

    The first work I remember is “The Tightrope Walker” by George Segal at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. As a little kid seeing a plaster person suspended in mid-air was cool and scary at the same time–very memorable. Kudos also to the CMoA for the great installation in a part of the museum that allows for viewing the work from a lot of vantage points and different heights.

  13. Yancey Arts says:

    I remember going to a library when I was 10 and saw a compilation of artworks made by dutch painters. One of them was Vermeer’s “Meisje met de parel” (girl with the pearl earring).

  14. […] Hals-mini-mania at the Metropolitan reminds me of the first painting I remember. […]

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