Sep 24

Visiting MoMA and what is great art?

I am intrigued by some works of Modern Art. Acknowledged masters like Salvador Dali (surrealism), Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Rousseau (post-impressionist), Georges Seurat (pointillism), Andrew Wyeth (realism), and others have often times offered us a view of the world from an obscure perspective. Sometimes we are given a chance to see into the artist’s dreams. Through their works these masters demonstrated that technique was important and that they had an underlying grasp of tone, depth, balance and light. Great works of art can draw something from inside of me, offer me cause for deep reflection, inflict upon me some abstract profundity!

Dali’s works in surrealism were fantastic depictions of his dreams. His use of color and mastery of technique embrace genius. If you look closely at the painting titled; THE PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY, you will not find a single visible brush stroke. It is as if you are seeing a photograph of his dream. This is an example of a unique contribution to the world of art.

Illumined Pleasures

Others like Van Gogh, Gauguin, Rousseau demonstrate an understanding of the fundamentals and much more than mere colors and dimensions there is a feeling that emits from their works.

Andrew Wyeth’s painting titled Christina’s World is striking in its real-ness.

Georges Seurat noted for his work in pointillism. This was something new! Something modern! It is a tremendous endeavor to depict a scene by connecting millions of tiny dots applied with the very tip of the brush. The attention to detail, the sheer creativeness of the concept and the beautiful dream-like quality that the work imparts are the embodiment of fine art.

Great art is timeless and universal and can often be emotionally or spiritually moving.

Earlier this year, I paid a visit to MoMA. It had been many years since my last visit. The museum was redesigned by Yoshio Taniguchi after he won a 1997 competition among ten other artists. MoMA reopened in 2004 with additional floors. It was late January and there was a long line of mostly students still on winter break. The current exhibition of nearly 200 works by de Kooning, on view through January. For a small museum $25 is a bit dear, but there are works that I wanted to see after so many years since my last visit.

The de Kooning works occupied the entire 4th floor. I will admit that I find it difficult to absorb art when there are multitudes of people shuffling along, but I found the exhibit to be repetitive and boring. There seemed to be a seething anger exuding from the canvas. I wondered about the artists general view of the world and more specifically about his thoughts of women. Was there something in his life at the time of these paintings that could cause him to portray women in such a distasteful way? Raw, ugly, childish on the verge of violence, distracted and rude all come to mind when I reflect on this exhibit.

Childish on the verge of anger; Women #1 through — I can’t remember how many there were, but they were hideous! If they were three dimensional they might serve well as scarecrows. An entire floor was dedicated to this exhibit. Why? I don’t understand it. This was not pleasurable to view. And I wonder how this artist gained such high acclaim. Where are the underlying fundamentals of form and technique? Who determines that this work has value? I question the artists sanity. Indeed! I wonder, have we all gone mad? What is it about this artist, this exhibit that draws such crowds? Can someone explain?

The Merritt Parkway is a lovely older highway in Fairfield County, Connecticut. In my younger days, I hitch-hiked, drove and even walked along some parts of the Merritt Parkway. De Kooning’s painting titled the same is, well, I can’t find any recollection in my mind’s eye of that quaint old road as he depicts it.

Not to malign de Kooning alone. There are many other works by so called “Modern Masters” that leave me cold. Jackson Pollack comes to mind immediately. His technique of laying the canvas flat on the floor and drizzling paint from a scaffold above seems to me to be the epitome of no talent, particularly when one sees the result. His paintings are worth million$$. I am not a fan of Pablo Picasso either. So what do I know? I suspect that some artists reach a level of popularity that emboldens them to experiment with new concepts but these two do nothing for my artistic sensibilities.

Here is the bottom line with regard to my limited knowledge of art; I know what I like and it is embodied in much of what I have described above; technique, innovation, sentiment, energy and emotion all contribute to great-fine art, but what strikes emotion in one may not do it for another. To each his own

***********Follow this link to the gallery and look at some of my favorite pieces on display at MoMA.***********

It is worth noting that photography is permitted throughout the museum with the exception of some special exhibitions (4th floor). I commend the board of directors at MoMA for this decision. Photography won’t hurt the artwork and allowing patrons to take pictures ensures that a much wider audience is granted access. It is a wise policy from a marketing perspective as well, in that it may entice a new audience to visit the museum and expose the museum’s art to a wider body of potential patronage.

In spite of my provincial understanding of what constitutes great art, I chose to purchase a one year membership. The selection of art I enjoy on display at MoMA is enough to make the cost worthwhile. For the course of the year, I am permitted to bring guests for $5, (children enjoy free admission) and if I visit twice more the membership pays for itself in what I would save if paying 3 separate admission fees. In fact, I have subsequently visited the museum, with guests, 4 times this year and will likely visit once more before my membership expires.

A Rodin at MoMA

If you plan a visit to MoMA, I recommend you arrive early. It is a small museum and can be experienced in a couple of hours, but often, it can be crowded by afternoon. Avoid the restaurant. The food lacked freshness and was overpriced. The dining space is reminiscent of a high school cafeteria. There are plenty of better options available not too far away.

In NYC 20 blocks = 1 mile. So, 10 blocks or a half mile is an easy stroll between the museum and a very good spot for lunch or dinner is the: Oyster Bar Restaurant, 87 E. 42nd St. Located in the lower level of Grand Central Station. You can have a simple bowl of Manhattan (or the New England version too) clam chowder for about $6 or choose from a wide selection of fresh shellfish and other seafood on their extensive menu. Service is efficient and prompt.

The current incarnation of this magnificent old train station was rebuilt in the early part of the 20 Century. You can look around on your own or take a tour. Perhaps you may enjoy shopping at some of the many retail businesses offering everything from wine to shoe repair, from pastries to newspapers, from cheese to skin care products. There are also plenty of other restaurants to choose from.

A stop at Grand Central Station in New York brings back fond memories of when I would travel almost weekly by train from Pougkeepsie, then bus from Port Authority to New Jersey. While attending the Culinary Institute of America, I would usually come down to my parents home on weekends and work at a restaurant I had worked at before attending. Now you may understand why I post so much about food! … Maybe I should tour the CIA in an upcoming blog post?


What do you think? Did you enjoy this article? Let me know. I want to hear your comments.






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1 comment

    • Stacey on September 25, 2012 at 3:49 pm
    • Reply

    Very informative. Well written. I should think it would be helpful to NYC visitors.

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