Wednesday, 14 October 2009

New York day 5: The Museum of Modern Art

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It may have taken me a short while to find myself in The Met but the minute I set foot in The Museum of Modern Art, I was in heaven!  I walked through the doors and immediately found myself surrounded by pieces of art that I have known and admired for my whole life.

Art is extremely subjective of course and I am sure that not everyone will be impressed by seeing the pieces that I found to be outstanding. 

I have always found a strange connection to abstract art or perhaps that should be “lack of connection”?  I love everything to do with the Sixties too and in my mind that extends from the Doors to Velvet Underground to Andy Warhol to Pop Art.  I love Pop Art and was in raptures the first time I visited the Tate Liverpool and saw Warhol’s Marilyns.  My absolute favourite has to be surrealism though and Dali’s works have been my favourite for many, many years.  On to the art then… (click the photos for larger images).

Painting and Sculpture II


Drowning Girl, Roy Lichtenstein, 1953 // Campbell's Soup Cans, Andy Warhol, 1962

Even as I try to diligently type up this blog post, I find myself staring at the Drowning Girl.  I really love this piece!


Equivalent V, Carl Andre, 1966-1969 // Untitled, Robert Ryman, 1965 and 1961

I swear, I am not trying to insult anyone’s intelligence by including Equivalent V!  I studied the Philosophy of Art module as part of my Philosophy II course at university and I had to write an essay on whether or not this was a work of art.  Given the excruciating pain of writing that paper, I just had to pay homage to the actual piece itself.  The Robert Ryman pieces also take me back to my philosophy days and those never ending arguments about nothing being real and whether art is more than the sum of its materials.

Once I had done my time in the abstract department, I turned the corner and fell in love…

 Flag, Jasper Johns, 1954 - 1955

“While this image is something "the mind already knows," Johns acknowledged, its execution complicates the representation and invites close inspection”.

It should be no surprise that I fell in love with this piece.  I knew of it of course but seeing it during my crazy week in New York, while I was falling in love with a city and a country, put it in a whole different perspective for me.  In any event, no photograph could adequately convey the texture and surface of Flag as it is made with strips of newspaper dating from 1955 and 1956.  It was a sight to behold!

 No. 16 (Red, Brown and Black), Mark Rothko, 1958

"We favor the simple expression of the complex thought. We are for the large shape because it has the impact of the unequivocal. We wish to reassert the picture plane. We are for flat forms because they destroy illusion and reveal truth." – Rothko and Gottlieb, manifesto reaction to New York Times, 1942

My best friend Heather loves Mark Rothko and it was lovely to see his work


One: Number 31,1950, Jackson Pollock, 1950 // Agony, Arshile Gorky, 1947 & Man Looking at Woman, Adolph Gottlieb, 1949

 Dive Bomber and Tank, José Clemente Orozco, 1940

This was my biggest surprise of the day because of the sheer size of it and what it depicted.  Commissioned by the museum, Orozco painted it in front of the viewing public and claimed that it had no political significance.

“I simply paint the life that is going on at the present—what we are and what the world is at this moment. That is what modern art is.” - Orozco

Dive Bomber and Tank consists of six panels which are intended to be arranged in any order and its overall size is a whopping 9 by 18 feet (2.75 by 5.5 metres in English!)

If I was impressed by what I had seen so far, it was nothing compared to my glee on reaching the upper level.

Painting and Sculpture I


The Migration Series, Jacob Lawrence, 1940-41 // Hirondelle Amour, Joan Miró, 1933-34

DSCF2848 The Menaced Assassin, René Magritte, 1927

"I immediately like this upper section more. The paintings remind me of Orwell, then Kafka and Sartre.  Magritte’s paintings in particular are… soothing.  They make me want to escape into an absurd Sartrean novel”.


Seated Bather, Pablo Picasso, 1930 // The Empire of Light II, René Magritte, 1950


Dance (I), Henri Matisse, 1909 // The Enigma of Day, Giorgio de Chirico, 1914

I'm sure they've used The Enigma of Day on the cover of an edition of Philip Pullman’s Subtle Knife before because that is precisely how I expected that alternative world to look.

The Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh, 1889

Seeing The Starry Night in person was an absolutely amazing experience.  I stood really close to it for the longest time and just traced the brush strokes and whirls with my eyes.  It is a fabulous work of art.

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I and the Village, Marc Chagall, 1911 // The Sleeping Gypsy, Henri Rousseau, 1897

The Sleeping Gypsy is one of my favourite pieces of art.  It reminds me of the strange world I lived in when I was four years old as an expat in Nigeria.  I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember!

DSCF2859 Project 90, Song Dong, 2009

And suddenly it was time to go home! The museum was only open until 6.30pm and so I began to make my way outside through the Lillie P. Bliss Garden Plaza. 

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The Museum of Modern Art (or MoMA) was definitely one of the best places I visited in new York and I would absolutely go again.  Considering how awesome the rest of New York is, that is saying something!

It has been the most amazing day but I had a massive day planned for the next day and so I headed back to the apartment and willed myself to fall asleep in preparation for waking up at 5am the next morning.

Click here to read all posts from my trip to New York or click on the label below.

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12 comments

  1. The Sleeping Gypsy looks really interesting - was that somebody's stuff?

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  2. Isn't it such a rush to see a work "in the flesh" that you studied, saw slides of in history-of-art-class, and heard about your whole life! You can think you know all about it there is to know, but until you actually see that canvas and those brush strokes....I had the same experience in the Turner galleries in Tate Britain!

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  3. Emm what an interesting post. Its not somewhere I visited in NYC. Even though I am not a modern art fan I have to say your commentary and pictures make me think I could spend a few hours there no problem.

    Thanks for an tantalising insight.

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  4. An interesting post with some excellent illustrative shots; I have to say that I struggle with art so I would probably have passed by the museum in search of a good coffee shop. It would not do for us all to be the same!

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  5. Wow, to see the The Starry Night in person would be such an amazing moment. It's one of my favorites.

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  6. nice posts. . . my favorite city. we live 35 miles away. it's nice to see it through the eyes of visitors. your photographs are wonderful.

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  7. Before I went to live in Paris for 3 years I would never have thought of going voluntarily to an art gallery, so my first visit wasn't anything I wa s anticipating with pleasure. And there I saw Monet's The Magpie. I was amazed, stunned, transfixed, all those words.

    Since then I can't get enough of art galleries, so your last post and this have been a delight to me. Van Gogh has been another of my favourites ever since I visited Auvers and saw the church there that he painted.

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  8. Oh, and Equivalent V, what was your conclusion?

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  9. One of my all time favourite museums. *Sigh* :-)

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  10. @ Julia: I love the Sleeping Gypsy - it is such a pity I took such a bad photo!

    @ Kathy: Oh, I agree! It was truly amazing!

    @ Mike: Thank you! I didn't imagine myself to ever be "cultured" but art galleries and museums seem to be my favourite things to do!

    @ John: Oh absolutely! We'd all get bored then wouldn't we? Do you like photography exhibitions?

    @ Lauren: You'll have to go one day!

    @ Koe: Hi there! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! I absolutely loved New York and am planning my next trip already!

    @ Sheila: Wow - that must have been such an awesome experience! My conclusion with Equivalent IV? It was that while art might be in the eye of the viewer, you have to take into account the creator's intention. I concluded that Karl Andre was taking the p*** and therefore it wasn't real art.

    @ JaPRA: And now one of my favourites too!

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  11. Wow wonderful i have seen newyork in these pictures.......thank you for your information...

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  12. @ triacme: It is a pleasure! I am glad you enjoyed the post.

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