Friday, 18 April 2008

Worshipping at the shrine
Our trip east last week was all about the pictures And a bit of sculpture..
I studied art history for three years in the '90s and I just can't tell you what it was like to see many of the works I'd only been able to study in books, or online, right there in front of me.
I couldn't get enough, so it was lucky that we only really scratched the surface of all that these two great cities have to offer. We'll have to go back and see more!
In Washington, we spent most of one day at the National Gallery, especially in the East Wing, which is full of the Modern stuff, an amazing building full of light and spaces like this (click on the pics to see them b-i-g!) ...... the red blades are part of a massive kinetic sculpture by Alexander Calder, and despite its size and weight, you could see it slowly and silently moving if you looked long enough.
There was a room of smaller Calders in the Museum of Modern Art in New York (below), and I just loved the calm of the monochrome setting:
The two cities each had a casting of an Alberto Giacometti sculpture, Hands Holding the Void, and while the Washington one stood alone against a wall ...the NY one had a lovely Picasso glowing behind her to keep her back warm!There were plenty of yummy treats on the top floor of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in DC, where they keep all the contemporary art:
The stripy painting is a three-dimensional Sean Scully, of whom I've long been a great admirer. I can't tell you about the neon/video installation map of the US states, because I actually ignored it to look at other stuff. Though looking at it in this pic, it looks pretty amazing, don't you think?
This is another view of the same fantastic room: And this is all quite apart from the wonders of the National Portrait Gallery, which shares this magnificent building.
In New York, MoMA was also full of mind-blowing spaces ...
... the views through the building, the scope of its walls and windows themselves as awesome as the artworks.
The black object (below), suspended by electric cable over this void in MoMA is an ordinary domestic fan. Free from a stand or a frame and left to swing by its long cord, it whirls over the heads of the people below, flying in random arcs and curves through the space.
Of course, after all the Big Names ...
my brain felt a lot like this:But oh! What a glorious way to spend a few days!
And our worshipping was in no way confined to the big galleries. there was plenty of great stuff all around us.
In SoHo, for example, I stumbled across this amazing work by a very talented and enigmatic Brooklyn street artist who signs himself Elbowtoe. I think this is his blog. He paints these (to me) Egon Schiele-style figures on stiff paper, cuts them out and pastes them about the city. Fantastic!
In midtown, we walked past the Lever Building almost every day, and the first time we did we saw this:
A man in a striped bobble hat wrapping an enormous sculpture of a pregnant woman. The sculpture, The Virgin Mother, is by Damien Hirst, no less! It had been standing here for six months and now it was time to move it out and bring in some new wonder.
Here the removal team has just started wrapping her head and feet in preparation for shifting her out of this spot and bringing in a new work. By the evening of that day she looked as though she'd been attacked by giant spiders:We were told the new work would be installed at midnight last Friday, but when we returned to check it out, the removal team was still building the enormous crane that was needed to lift this hefty Virgin Mother out of her plaza setting. The next morning, she was gone, but nothing had yet been installed in her place, so I can't tell you what masterpiece occupies this space now.
Oh, but these weirdly distorted sculptures of his own body, by Richard Dupont, are in the lobby gallery of the same building:Being in New York also provided the chance to visit Pace Gallery, which represents my very fave artist, Jim Dine. I had visited this gallery's website for years, checking out JD's prints, so it was a thrill and a half to actually visit it.
When I boldly asked to see some of Jim Dine's work, a very pleasant young woman came to talk to me. I told her that though I did not have the means to buy any of his work, I intended merely to worship at the shrine, so she smilingly pulled out some of the great man's prints to show me.
In truth, it is his more energetic, gestural plant drawings that are my absolute favourites, but just seeing his prints was an unforgettable moment.


Laura Jane said...

Sighs of happiness when in NY and let loose on art, art and more art hey Les?

We had a similar fascination and awe for the spaces, the quirky, the reverent, the traditional, the REAL THING!! It was such a thrill to be within breathing distance of these wonders.

And we truly appreciated the ability to photograph most things we saw. It was a special wonder to us - and now we have muscles on our muscles from lugging the photo albums around with the prints!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful pictures. When i first went to Paris the French friend I was with would only let me look at one small section because, as she rightly said, I wouldn't have been able to take anymore in. So I know what you mean about needing to go back.

As for the Picasso - we had a Matisse/Picasso exhibition in London when I was still able to travel and I came home having discovered what the 11th commandment was - Thou shalt not covet they neighbour's Picasso. For neighbour read The Hermitage. Surely they wouldn't have missed a little one?