Friday, May 11, 2007

V6.P3. MoMA

To my surprise, visiting MoMA (more) was not too exciting. It was big, it had a bit of everything (though, not necessarily the best of eveything) and therefore it was rather easy to get lost in. I think the sheer number of good quality art work assembled in this museum is the reason why it is found so impressive. But to a visitor, it is a little eclectic. All those tremendous installations I was dreaming of simply weren't there (other than one), the audiotour was not inspiring at all (although it was better than the Frick Collection's,which simply claimed that each painting was the best of the best, and how lovely the painting is etc...), and some of the paintings of Dali and Magritte that I would really like to see were sent to exhibitions.

Yet, I'm glad to have been there. Here are some highlights:

"This morning I saw the country from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big."
- van Gogh (about the Starry Night)

Gustav Klimt.Hope, II. 1907-08. Oil, gold, and platinum on canvas

"A pregnant woman bows her head and closes her eyes, as if praying for the safety of her child. Peeping out from behind her stomach is a death's head, sign of the danger she faces. At her feet, three women with bowed heads raise their hands, presumably also in prayer—although their solemnity might also imply mourning, as if they foresaw the child's fate.

Why, then, the painting's title? Although Klimt himself called this work Vision, he had called an earlier, related painting of a pregnant woman Hope. By association with the earlier work, this one has become known as Hope, II. There is, however, a richness here to balance the women's gravity."

Georges-Pierre Seurat. Port-en-Bessin, Entrance to the Harbor. 1888. Oil on canvas

Frida Kahlo. Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair. 1940. Oil on canvas
Kahlo painted Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair shortly after she divorced her unfaithful husband, the artist Diego Rivera. As a painter of many self- portraits, she had often shown herself wearing a Mexican woman's traditional dresses and flowing hair; now, in renunciation of Rivera, she painted herself short haired and in a man's shirt, shoes, and oversized suit (presumably her former husband's).

Kahlo knew adventurous European and American art, and her own work was embraced by the Surrealists, whose leader, André Breton, described it as "a ribbon around a bomb." But her stylistic inspirations were chiefly Mexican, especially nineteenth-century religious painting, and she would say, "I do not know if my paintings are Surrealist or not, but I do know that they are the most frank expression of myself."

René Magritte. The Lovers. 1928. Oil on canvas, 21 3/8 x 28 7/8" (54 x 73.4 cm).

Pablo Picasso. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Paris, June-July 1907. Oil on canvas
"The result of months of preparation and revision, this painting revolutionized the art world when first seen in Picasso's studio. Its monumental size underscored the shocking incoherence resulting from the outright sabotage of conventional representation. Picasso drew on sources as diverse as Iberian sculpture, African tribal masks, and El Greco's painting to make this startling composition. In the preparatory studies, the figure at left was a sailor entering a brothel. Picasso, wanting no anecdotal detail to interfere with the sheer impact of the work, decided to eliminate it in the final painting. The only remaining allusion to the brothel lies in the title: Avignon was a street in Barcelona famed for its brothel."

Giorgio de Chirico. Gare Montparnasse (The Melancholy of Departure). Paris, early 1914. Oil on canvas.

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