Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al (livredor) wrote,
Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al

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Culture Vulture

I've been overindulging in art museums this week, but there are probably worse things to do with a trip to New York.

MoMA probably ranks as the museum I've got most excited about so far. I was bouncing about it to hatam_soferet and she expressed surprise that it has actual proper stuff. Well, yes, it very much does. It defines modern as starting somewhere in the later part of the 19th century, which covers a fair bit that's traditional enough to be vaguely realist and aesthetically appealing, sometimes even both! I myself enjoy some modern art of the kind that makes tabloid opinion writers froth at the mouth, but I'm not a blanket fan and my knowledge of anything post WWII is very patchy indeed. And somewhere in between those two categories are the Cubists and post-Expressionists and their capital-M Modernist companions, I guess. This is in fact the section that seems to be strongest at MoMA, and certainly it's the section I honed in on when I went there.

Though I did start with the temporary exhibition on Cézanne & Pissarro. I had my doubts about whether a detailed study of two very famous Impressionists was the most profitable way to spend a trip to New York, and indeed a lot of the most impressive pieces were on loan from the Musée d'Orsay. But I don't at all regret seeing this exhibition. I really like Pissarro; I think I would rate him my favourite of the Impressionists (most of whom I like). Céanne I can take or leave, and the period covered by the exhibition was really before he started doing most of his very characteristic Cézanne thing. But anyway, the story of how the two artists collaborated and learnt from eachother I found absolutely fascinating. They've done all kinds of fun things like copying eachother's paintings, or both painting the same view, or including the other's painting in the background of a different painting.

Starting with early Impressionist (almost pre-Impressionist) works made a nice gentle transition into the early 20th century stuff; I love that period for the way it ranges between practically classical and some of the most outlandish and rebellious stuff ever. I decided to concentrate on the paintings and sculpture section, because I find it easier to relate to things that are unambiguously artworks rather than more design type things. And I only had energy for the first half of it, which meant that quite unintentionally my visit to the museum was very nearly chronological, covering approximately a century from 1865 onwards.

The MoMA has a very, very impressive collection of Picasso. I like Picasso (no, really, I'm not just being pretentious here), but he's very intellectually demanding. The art museum in Tel Aviv is practically all Picasso and I find it quite overwhelming. (Dedicated Picasso museums are a different thing, because they tend to include a high proportion of his early, realist works which aren't so brain hurty). I bought a postcard of The musicians, mainly because I fell in love with the hidden dog in it! But there were plenty of Picasso works I could have spent hours getting sucked into.

I kept going back to nice soothing Mondrians to recuperate. Yeah, I know he's just stereotypical of the sort of artist who gives the twentieth century a bad name, but I have a fondness for him I can't quite explain.

Lots of really absurdly famous pieces. Dalí's The persistence of memory, which, like the Mona Lisa the first time I saw it, mainly surprised me by how tiny the original canvas is. And lots of Van Gogh paintings which IMO havebeen so done to death that the originals have lost any emotional power they migh have had when fresh. Likewise Matisse but I don't really like Matisse anyway. And I didn't get as excited as I might have expected over the Chagall and Magritte pieces.

Other random things that caught my eye: Léger's Three women. A Braque which surprised me by being a landscape in startling acid colours rather than the expected still life in browns and greys! This still life, by a guy called Corbusier I hadn't previously heard of, somehow justifies the whole Cubist movement for me; I'm absolutely enthralled by the way that curve is repeated all over the picture.

A whole heap of other things too, not all of them in the extremely helpful online collection. In general I just went through the gallery in a state of bouncing about excitedly from one cool thing to the next, which is always a good way to be in a museum!

So yay MoMA. I'm most pleased with that trip. And I've run out of time to write up the rest of the arty stuff I've been doing, cos I need to go and catch a plane to the other side of the country to see darcydodo. *bouncewaves*
Tags: culture

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