What is the most beautiful work of art

The most beautiful work of art of all

From Uta Lemke

Anna's art gallery was famous nationwide for her good taste. Even if it wasn't exactly home to the most famous artists, it was still a collection of touching paintings, each more beautiful than the other.

Other gallery owners also sold some of the exhibits, after all, you couldn't live on the meager admissions alone, but Anna would have preferred to live under a bridge than sell one of her paintings.

She often roamed the seemingly endless corridors of the gallery and answered her guests' questions with infectious enthusiasm.

When asked what her favorite piece was, she didn't hesitate for a second. She muttered a conspiratorial "Follow me" and climbed the spiral staircase that was in the center of the gallery.

And at the very end of this spiral staircase hung a single picture. Its size could almost be described as sparse, hardly an A4 page. But what confused visitors the most was the picture itself.

Judging by the excellent selection of exhibits, Anna had really good taste that was hard to argue about. But this picture? Could it even be called art? Sure, anything seemed possible in the era of abstract modern art. But that was not a work that a particularly contemporary artist would have painted. It was a picture of a child.

A few prints of children's hands dipped in finger paint and on them a smiley that takes up the whole picture.

The reaction of the people was very different. Some tried it with an understanding smile, which Anna usually interpreted as "I'm really sorry that you are crazy." Others were forced to laugh and then said, “Good joke. But what is your favorite piece now? "
But the reaction Anna liked best was a look of utter amazement on her face and then the question: "Why?"
Sure, it wasn't a positive reaction either. But it gave Anna the perfect opportunity to tell her story:

“When I got the news, I was devastated. 'Trisomerism 21', said the doctor and looked pityingly at my pregnancy belly. She said a few more sentences, but her speaking became a noise in my ears. My thoughts circled in panic.

The diagnosis came like a slap in the face. My child was not strong and healthy, as I had imagined in my future dreams. Before it was even born, it had been classified as disabled. Not viable alone. It would depend on my help for its entire life.

'Now it can't get any worse,' I thought. But how wrong I was with this thought I should become painfully aware in the coming weeks.

It started when I wanted to get a second medical opinion. You can never be sure about such diagnoses. But the second doctor also confirmed my gynecologist's diagnosis. And then he said one sentence, that one dangerous sentence that no mother-to-be would ever want to hear in her life: 'Maybe you should think about whether you want to carry this child at all.'

I burst into tears. I couldn't help it. I did not understand the world anymore. Not only should I not be allowed to give birth to a healthy child, now they wanted to take this unborn life away from me beforehand. Furious and horrified, I stormed out of the consulting room.

But it didn't stop at this incident. When I turned to my long-time best friend and complained about my suffering, she said very carefully and quietly, as if she didn't really want to say it: 'I know it seems terribly unjust and cruel to you, but do you want that to you and the child really do? Wouldn't it be better not to let it get that far? ‘

I haven't spoken to her in years. I couldn't stand the thought alone.

I sought advice from strangers in the hope that they might think otherwise. Instead, I found articles about how children with Down syndrome have been discriminated against even more since prenatal diagnostics existed, alleging that their parents could have had an abortion.

At first I was so horrified by the idea that it didn't even occur to me to act on it. But gradually I began to have concerns. Would I even be able to look after a disabled child for life? Wouldn't my upbringing just fail? What if the disability was severe? What if the child wasn't even able to draw a picture?

The doubts built up more and more and I would have collapsed and done what they all seemed to expect of me had it not been for my child's father. He seemed to me to be the only one against all the critics, but it was enough. I printed out the ultrasound image on a DIN-A-3 page and hung it on the wall in our kitchen. And every morning when I saw it I tried a smile. Tried to hope, to be happy. After all, it was still a life. Maybe not a ’normal’ life, but something was alive in me and it was going to see the light of day.

A few months later the time had come. I looked at the bundle in my arm and a small face with big blue eyes laughed at me. I felt his warmth, the life in him, and decided that this moment made up for anything bad that was to come.

At first it was easy to forget that my child didn't grow up normally. It learned to crawl around, it learned to touch things and put things in its mouth, it learned to crawl around, and it learned to speak its first words. Only when I compared it to other children its age did I notice how slowly it developed. While the other children were already sitting at the table with crayons and drawing stick figures, my child was sitting in his cot and knocking around on a pillow.

Sometimes the other parents looked at me pityingly and I heard their mumbled conversations. And every now and then the word 'abortion' was uttered and it gave me an ice-cold shiver.

But somehow we made it through kindergarten and when my child finally went to a school where it wouldn't be alone among non-disabled children, I was almost as relieved as when it was born. Finally it would no longer count as 'the left behind'. Finally to be accepted. And finally I would get to know parents who did not look at me with pity, but with solidarity.

Of course, it wasn't going to be that easy. My child was still having great difficulty making friends. Children can be cruel, disabled or not. More than once I held my crying child in my arms because his classmates had once again made fun of the fact that he still couldn't hold a pen.

And when I wandered through the rooms of my gallery and looked at the beautiful works of art in it, I also realized that my child had no chance of becoming an artist like his mother.

But sometimes I would take my child with me and sometimes point them to a picture and say, 'Flower' or 'Man' and grin happily and then I realized that even if they would never produce art, it was still an artist.

It was only 12 years old when it happened. It was winter and I wasn't paying attention. Yeah, I still blame myself, who wouldn't? I had let my child play outside with the child in the neighborhood. They had a lot of fun, rolling around in the snow and making snow angels. Fascinated by their games, I didn't notice how long they had been in the garden. It happened as it had to: My child got pneumonia and had to be hospitalized.

Then came the moment that I had always wished for, but now it somehow had a bitter aftertaste. My child asked for paints and a piece of paper. It had never painted anything, it had never dared. Too great the fear that the other children might laugh at his picture.

The nurses weren't particularly enthusiastic, but I was able to convince them to get the finger paints from the creative workshop. And then it started, patting the paint with his hands and then on the paper and despite its weakened condition it managed a big smile. When the sheet was almost completely filled with his handprints, it pointed to the pencil on the little bed table and then to me. 'Something on it.' It said with a rattling voice.

With a look at his wonderful smile, I decided to paint the first thing I had ever painted in my life: a simple smiley face. And then I heard the most beautiful words of my life: 'I'm giving it to you, mom.'

Two weeks later we were standing around a coffin. Yeah, it was just pneumonia. But my child's body wasn't strong and the pneumonia was. We have lost. 12 years later than other people had predicted me, but now it was over anyway. And it's really hard for me to accept that, especially because it's my fault.

But whenever I look at this picture, the first and last thing it ever painted, I know that at least my child has made his peace. It didn't blame me for his untimely death. Otherwise it would not have let me participate in its only work of art. This picture will always be a symbol of joy for me. Even if all the signs spoke against it, my child has become an artist.

Yes, the collection of his work is not particularly large and most people would never see the beauty in his painting. Nobody but me will even call it art.

But for me it is the most beautiful work of art that has ever been created. "