Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Metropolitan and me

I was in the Metropolitan Museum of ARt two days in a row while in NYC last week.  My brother Dave and I went on Tuesday and then my friend Karen and I went to see a separate exhibition of clothes and fashion the following morning.   I am so grateful that the Met has a policy that you pay as you wish.  Otherwise one would try to take in too much at a time and get museum burn- out.

  I really love the ambiance of this great old institution, the MET.  Did you ever take a gander at the towering displays of real flowers in the lobby .  They are exquisitely done and take a discreet back- seat to the hustle around them.   I have always loved a run through the book store as well to look for monographs of artists (though I have never actually bought any).  It's just nice to know that the book is there in case your house is feeling large enough to accept one more art book.  Not.
 (Did I just use that stupid usage?) Sorry.  It crept up on me.

The MET is also acoustically favorable to many other spaces.  There are indeed the herds of school children  tromping through it.   But depending on the teacher and her disciplinary skills controlling todays over-sugared little beasts, the school groups are more or less respectful of the place.  I do maintain though that we would all be better served if the museum let school tours in one morning a week or limit the number of class groups that are being admitted at one time.  I like kids, but I was also a teacher and you need to put some consequences for bad behavior in front of any child or you can't expect your wishes to come true.  In some cases, its the teachers who don't know what respectful behavior is.

Nevertheless, the space accommodates so many people and there are so many areas to be seen that Dave and I often found a hush- hush space like the wonderful engravings by Albrecht Durer and those of his period, that were being featured.

We covered all of the paintings on Tuesday from Impressionism to Modernism and again I was more impressed with the Met contemporary art selection than I was that of MOMa.    Here are a few favorites that I camera grabbed.

I have a great fondness for Bonnard and I had never come across this one.

 But this Bonnard is really amusingly wonderful and in the same  league with his famous spindly cat.  There is so much character in the children. ...unformed lumps that they are.   Bonnard as I have said before,  so beautifully marries cool and warm colors. Can you say which is predominant?  I would say warm colors .  But look at all of the cool blue in it.

 I spent the morning spraying my cypresses  as they are "malade" from a common summer fungus.  Now the two tall ones  looks just like this with all of its arms askew.  Van Gogh could just get inside his subject and take it to a higher level.   He helps us to really see a thing.

  I am pretty sure this is a Kandinsky and it has some effective illegible qualities.  You can look at it forever and find new stuff to contemplate or interpret.

Do you know who painted this one?  It just popped out at me so I snapped it.   It is by the Russian born Sonia Delaunay who was married to Robert Delaunay, another artist.   She did this in 1959.    I think that both husband and wife worked with geometric forms and colors...... its like painting a jig -saw puzzle with the possibility of  endless permutations.  If you like working with color, as I do, that idea appeals.

I don't think you will guess who did this one.........until you see the painting that follows.

  Yes, they had several Georgia O'Keeffe's on display but none of my favorites.  However this one is very powerful.

 I know this painting from a postcard that someone sent me, that I have had for years .  I never knew who painted it until now.  It is by the American artist, Charles Demuth 1883-1935 and it is called" I saw the figure 5 in Gold.    Oil on composition board. 1928.

Arguably two of the best Hopper's were on display at the Met the day we were there.   I never realized that Hopper effectively divided this painting in thirds by letting that lighthouse go off the page.   These little things determine "just good" or "remarkable"  to my mind.

 This painting by Edward Hopper looks even more stunning framed.   The frame somehow gives it another geometric dimension, doesn't it?  And look at the nuance of the building color...all those whites, yellows and greys.  Glorious.

This large hanging really enticed me. " It takes a village" and the Ghanaian artist El Anatsui ,  born in 1944, considered today Africa's foremost sculptor to conceive and execute the design.
  He calls it Dusasa II  2007, which means
"communal patchwork made by a team of townspeople".  I may have seen Dusasa I at the Seattle Art Museum as they have a smaller but similar hanging there.    (Maia and Martha, Joanne please report next time you are at SAM.)

AS you can see in the "close -up" it is made from thousands of liquor bottle tops,  and aluminum caps, seals, and copper wire.  Anatsui's work is anchored in the traditional Kente cloth of Ghana, Western art (mosaic, tapestry, chain mail armor ) and contemporary life ( alcohol consumption and consumerism) .   I find his composition and draping to have such flair.

 This is Robert Motherwell at his finest.    I love his large graphic gestures and as I didn't find any of his in the MOma, I was happy to have this familiar one before me.

Equally as pleasing to me is Franz Kline and these two pieces on the left were representative of his stark spontaneous, intense style.

Do any of you love the scribble scrabble of Cy Twombly?   This is a detail of a larger canvas. The first time I saw Twombly's work many, many, years ago I was outraged that this was considered art.

 But now I feel it a playful, intimate style and not easily copied either.... if you don't have his brain.  It looks easy and fun but just try it without getting self conscious.    You are either naive or you are not.

Time for Lunch.......
Huzzah.., this is one museum that I can come back to time and time again and still be pleased by the endless treasure on display, the cafeteria , the layout, and the organization.   Chapeaux to the MET.  See you tomorrow.


  1. I've figured out the answer to the swarms of kids in museums. Every museum in the world should have an annex or separate wing that contains dinosaurs. Have signs everywhere pointing in that direction. The kids will follow.
    If you don't have real dinosaurs put in fake ones. If the kids get wise to that send them through an exit that says unlimited Twinkies and S'mores/

  2. Brilliant solution, Bruce. .... or now we could add video games to their salon. I heard one mother say to her 12 year old who was bored and wanted to go home...."YOu just have to give it ( art) a chance."

    The kid in tow with mom doesn't bother me its the "field trips" of children from schools. One gets the impression that the teachers can't hold kids attention in class anymore so they take endless excursions to get through the year.

    1. No, we actually go to a lot of trouble to provide an experience that might touch them in a meaningful way, and perhaps gain their attention for a lifetime...duh

  3. Love this post, Mary. I don't recall if Dusasa is at SAM; I'll report back after my next visit. I love large textiles like that though. A similar Motherwell was in a series the post office did last year of abstract expressionist artists' works on stamps.

  4. Having well-behaved kids who appreciate art is a wonderful thing to behold in an art museum,,,and it does happen.