Friday, April 11

So, yeah, Picasso had some issues.

This morning's meeting went very well. I think it was worth the trip so that's good.

Even more important, though, was the much anticipated visit to MOMA. My verdict: I loved it! About every 5 minutes my brain would seize up and scream something like "Holy crap! It's Starry Night. The real damn Starry Night... and it's not on a mug!!" I've always liked Starry Night but I must admit that up close I thought "Yeah, it's a little loopy. I sort of understand why folks freaked out about it back in the day." Still, it's amazing to stare at. My brain also dug up the title Broadway Boogie Woogie, which I recognized from across the room. I also saw some Seurat, Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollack, Picasso, Miro, Monet, Matisse and the uber cool Frida Kahlo just to name a few. I'm still recovering.

I've seen pictures of this Kahlo self portrait dozens of times so the real thing called out to me from across the gallery. It was smaller than I would have guessed.

I also realized that the only thing that apparently stuck with me from college was my modern art class. I was familiar with so much of what I saw today and even knew the names after all these years. I'm so proud of myself. I thought the only thing I'd learned in school was my social security number. While I may not love solid black "studies" on canvas, I admire the guts it took to be the first hang it on a gallery wall, especially 100 years ago. The same goes for Dadaists. It may have been a kooky movement but they had some fun, shocked some folks and did it all first. I sort of love that.

I saw Jackson Pollock's One: Number 31. The guy's work continues to be controversial but I must confess that standing in front of it is impressive. One: 31 happens to be enormous and it has an impressive presence. I really liked it a lot. I sat and stared at it for quite a while gazing at the splatters, trying to decipher which came before the others. I wondered how long Pollock worked on it. As I left I heard a teenager come around a corner and exclaim "Man! That must have taken forever!" I was glad he noticed.

Of course lots of modern art is bullshit, but most of the stuff at MOMA is very cool. I was looking at a painting of Matisse's French studio while listening to the audio tour. The description on the wall quoted Matisse saying "Where I got the color red—to be sure, I just don't know." Then the audio went on and on about how "red represents what must have been stifling heat in the Summer months, blah, blah, blah...". I thought 'dang, the guy just said he had no idea why he chose red, stop second guessing him.' That's the part about art that sort of cracks me up. People love to project theories on art when sometimes a color is just a color.
Joan Miro's self portrait was incredible (now there's another one with issues). I NEVER would have guessed that I'd like it. Photos of it make it look gruesome and flat but in person it's remarkably intricate and actually possesses an unexpected beauty. I stood and stared at that one for a while too. Looking at it (below) is like seeing it through a Vaseline lens. You can't imagine the amazing details that make up this image. There is so much going on here:

After my brain had recovered from seeing Starry Night I turned around and discovered my new favorite Van Gogh. Turns out I love the portrait of his postman. Again, the pic (below) is absolute crap but in person it's truly amazing. The brush strokes and colors are gorgeous. Believe it or not, even the beard is beautiful.

The only down side to my visit was the prevalence of amateur photographers. I happen to really love looking at art up close as well as from a distance. This is a challenge when there is someone constantly backing up trying to take a photo of everything. A long time ago I gave up taking pix of art and most tourist sights. There are excellent professional photographs of most every type of art, architecture, photography and so on. There is no way to capture the green hills of Ireland or the brush strokes in a Van Gogh so I don't bother anymore. I try to enjoy those moments as the come. Whether it's visiting MOMA or going to my nephew's Little League games I try to pay attention, enjoy and not obsess about trying to somehow capture the moment. If you're busy capturing the moment, you're probably missing it. I saw a lot of that today. I'd say the vast majority of MOMA visitors where busily scanning galleries for art they recognized then quickly snapping pix without really seeing much. I guess it all goes back to that whole "being present" thing that I'm working on. I wandered around and just took in the sights that really moved me. In the photography gallery I enjoyed some Diane Arbus, Stieglitz and Dorothea Lange. They're not for everyone but I liked them.

I saw Henri Matisse's Dance. It's also huge and so much more vibrant than any photos available online. It's not a favorite but it sure made my brain freak.

So that was my MOMA visit in a nut shell. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The Archtecture/Photography floor was in the middle of a new installation which was a bit of a bummer. *shrug* Oh well, I'll be sure to go back when I have the chance. Of course, next time I'll probably check out The Met or The Guggenheim. So much to do! So much to see! I love it!

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