Tag Archives: MoMA

Travelling with the Art Student Part 2

This isn’t an account of our travels. It’s just a slightly shell-shocked continuation of the list of artists whose work we’ve seen in New York, Los Angeles and briefly Philadelphia.

First of all, the omissions from the list in part 1: Picasso and George Segal as mentioned in a comment on the earlier post; Object Matter, a big exhibition of Robert Heineken’s photographic work, including a very entertaining talk on his The S. S. Copyright Project: ‘On Photography; two different collections that included paintings from the late 19th and early 20th century big names; a vast exhibition of romantic photographs of nature and people who live close to nature, by Sebastião Salgado; street sculptures by Keith Haring.

And since my last post:

  • Lorraine O’Grady: Art Is …, in which she took picture frames to an African-American celebration in 1983 and photographed people and places being ‘framed’
  • Samara Golden: The Flat Side of the Knife, a huge, disorientating installation of an Escherish house with a mirrored floor that makes it seem to go down and down
  • Zero Tolerance: a huge exhibition at MoMA PS1 in Queens, that Deborah Kelly, met by chance, recommend to us. It included a poster for one of her works, Tank Man Tango. The participating artists are too many to name but they came from all over the world and taken in the aggregate presented an overwhelming image of a world in turmoil: extraordinary footage from just after Ceaucescu’s overthrow in Romania, horrific responses to a heroic Gay Rights demonstration in Romania, a cacophonous room called Democracies, with 20 video screens by Artur Żmijewski showing places of apparently intractable conflict.
  • big rooms full of David Hockney and Pablo Picasso in the same gallery – different sections
  • Ursula von Rydingsvard: Great towering works carved from cedar with a chain saw – new ones in a Chelsea gallery and an older one, in bronze, at a Brooklyn train station
  • Lorenzo Vitturi: photographs, that at first glance look like PhotoShop fantasies, but are actually of sculptures made from leftover fruit from a market in London
  • El Anatsui: a Ghanaian who makes huge, stunning tapestries from the neck-foils of discarded wine bottles – our tour guide was impressed that he started doing this because he couldn’t afford to buy materials and now sells his pieces for 7 figure sums and can employ people to scrounge the foils for him. We saw another of his pieces at the Metropolitam Museum
  • Kay Hassan: big images, mostly portraits but one landscape with football-playing figures which I loved, made by collage from paper scrounged from street posters
  • Eve Hild: lovely stonework ceramics
  • William Wegman: an photographic exhibition called ‘Cubism and other -Isms’ which featured Wegman’s very photogenic and athletic dog posed among and on top of primary colours and mainly stark geometric shapes
  • A number of women ‘sculpting animism’ at the Cavin-Morris Gallery, which quoted Doreen Kartinyeri in its handout (though sadly, no Australians, Indigenous or otherwise, were represented in the stunning ceramics and weaving on display

We went to the Met, where we were so sated we skipped the El Greco, and MoMA for the Matisse cut-outs, where the student fell in love with Cezanne. A trip to Philadelphia with US friends for the Barnes and Philadelphia Museums (more than $100 each in train fares at a Seniors discount, compared to $2.50 each from Sydney to Newcastle and back at home!) included much more Cezanne, far too much Renoir, never enough Monet. We had a fabulous visit with the same friends to the Frick Collection. We trawled once more through the galleries of Chelsea and oh my God I forgot to mention Adrián Villar Rojas’ The Evolution of God and other sculptures on the High Line … so now I’ll stop.

Sonnet No 7: Three MoMA Guards

Not one, but three of the security staff at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) had me unsure where the art finished and the rest of life began. In two of the three cases I went back a second time, and saw that the exhibit was diminished by the absence of the guard who had been there the first time. I only visited the third room once, but the guard in question moved away and was replaced by someone who didn’t value-add in the same way.

Three Guards at MoMA: Gober, Gober, Dubuffet
Dolphin-sized, shaped from tobacco
sheafs, a fragile beached cheroot.
He’s on guard at its head. No whacko
Gets past his secret-service suit.
Wallpaper patterned with a lynching:
a thousand times a Black man hangs.
The guard is Black: without harangues
he sets us White art-lovers flinching.
Prints of dark beards, roots and gravel,
dig underground, compel, and revel
in earth, but then a high sweet tune
the guard hums lifts us to the moon.
Next day, there’s just an art brut star,
a pomo wall, a giant cigar.

The links will take you to images from the three environments referred to. (And yes, it hardly counts as a sonnet – can the volta ever come that late?)