At the beginning of the week, I said, “What shall we do today, Gemma-Rose?”
My youngest daughter replied, “How about some maths?”
Maths? I nearly fell off my seat. Gemma-Rose is not a maths fan. “Are you sure? Yes? Well, perhaps we can find something interesting.”
As I opened up my computer, I had an idea. Could we find some art related maths? Gemma-Rose loves watching art documentaries. So do I. At the moment, we’re working our way through a documentary series called Private Life of a Masterpiece. Well, maybe ‘working our way through’ is the wrong way to describe what we’re doing. We’re actually picking and choosing the episodes we want to watch. I read out the descriptions and Gemma-Rose chooses. She’s not too keen on the nude paintings so we tend to pass over those ones.
The other day we watched Episode 18 – Johannes Vermeer: The Art of Painting. The artist George Deem was part of this documentary. Deem studied Vermeer’s paintings closely and then reworked them. He’d paint the same scene as Vermeer, taking out elements or replacing them with something else. Gemma-Rose and I enjoyed looking at some of his paintings including Artist in His Studio, (diptych), his take on Vermeer’s The Art of Painting.
Art and Hitler
Did you know The Art of Painting fell into the hands of Hitler? During the Second World War, he stored it away in the tunnels of the salt mine Altaussee with many other invaluable works of art.
A bit of googling later and we found a movie about the rescue of these artworks – The Monuments Men:
“During World War II, the Nazis steal countless pieces of art and hide them away. Some over-the-hill art scholars, historians, architects and other experts form a unit to retrieve as many of the stolen masterpieces as possible. The mission becomes even more urgent when the team learns about Hitler’s “Nero Decree,” which orders destruction of the artworks if the Third Reich falls. Caught in a race against time, the men risk their lives to protect some of mankind’s greatest achievements.”
I have the movie bookmarked on Google Play. We’re going to watch it one evening very soon.
But back to maths…
Graphing Art Stats
“How about we look up some stats about famous paintings?” I said. “I wonder what are the most expensive paintings in the world.”
More googling and we arrived at an article called The Ten Most Expensive Paintings in History.
“It’s a pity there isn’t a graph showing all the info,” I said.
And Gemma-Rose said (to my surprise), “Let’s make one of our own.”
So we went to a site called Online Charts. We experimented with the settings and produced a graph which I downloaded and then inserted into an Evernote note. (I think we could have made it more colourful. Maybe next time…)
Next, I wondered if we could find an infographic comparing the value of famous paintings. We did find one. And we thought about making our own infographic on the website infogr.am, but the free account has a very small limit. Maybe we’ll go to Canva another day because we can make as many free infographics on that site as we like.
And while I was clicking around another infographic caught my eye: Ten Most Expensive Cats. The most expensive cat is the ashera and because we weren’t familiar with this breed, we did some more research and found a video about them.
Cats, Dogs, Genetics, Ethics, and Environmental Issues
Ashera cats led to more rabbit trails. Gemma-Rose and I discussed genetics, especially selective breeding. We wondered if it’s ethical to selectively breed cats which look cute but have health issues. We pondered the question: Are asheras really savannah cats? (This led us to the topic of DNA testing.) And should the ban on importing savannah cats into Australia have been lifted? You see, they could have a negative impact on our native wildlife.
Cats led to dogs and we watched the first part of a documentary called How Dogs Changed the World – “a two-part PBS Nature documentary narrated by F. Murray Abraham, exploring the 15,000-year-old relationship between dogs and humans and the evolution of wolves into the wide variety of dogs we know today.” (I missed the beginning because I had to answer the phone.)
Yes, one thing led to another… and there are still more things we want to find out about…
Maybe next week we’ll take a look at these resources:
Angel Breed – a Game: “Understand the basic rules of genetics and see if you can breed the rarest fish.”
Unzip Your Genes – a “quiz to determine whether common traits are hereditary or influenced by the environment.”
Atoms Alive – a “series about DNA and genetics.”
A Weekend Movie?
But before then, there’s the weekend to enjoy. I wonder what we’ll do. We could watch Monuments Men on Saturday or Sunday. I think everyone will enjoy that movie.
“It stars Cate Blanchett,” I say.
“And George Clooney,” says Imogen.
George Clooney? I don’t know who he is. Obviously, I don’t watch enough movies.
So what did you learn this week? Did you follow any rabbit trails? And what about cats? Do you have one?
Have a great weekend!