Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Blown away at MoMA

When I came to NYC I had three specific goals in mind. First, to drum up new business, since the Seattle market has tanked faster than Nicholas Cage's career. Second, to visit Coney Island and ride the Cyclone (probably doing that this weekend). And third, to visit the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

Oh. My. Goodness.

I arrived about five minutes before they opened at 10:30 am, and spent the entire day in the museum, not leaving until they kicked everybody out about a quarter after five. I even ate lunch in one of their cafes. (That one hurt the pocketbook, let me tell you.)

The depth and breadth of the art is astounding. From Pollock to Warhol, O'Keeffe and Stieglitz, to Hopper, Lichtenstein, Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Weston, Miro.....on and on it went. Every time I turned a corner there was something amazing, something I had only seen in books, something I had no idea was there.

I remember glancing across a hall and seeing, no, it couldn't be... Monet's “Water Lilies.” But it was. Three immense panels of genius, and on the opposite wall another huge panel, all of different seasons in his gardens. Gentle, serene, warm. I could feel the breezes of France and smell the musty odors of the pond. He took me to a very special place, one I won't soon forget.

Then there was Jackson Pollock's “One: Number 31.” This nearly brought me to tears. I know it's easy to dismiss Pollock's work as just paint splashed on canvas, but it's so much more. Those drips and drabs are carefully placed and perfectly balanced, and it all comes together to create....anger? Perhaps. To me it spoke of the dark places in my mind that want to do everything at once, and wind up tangled around themselves, preventing anything at all from happening, leading to panic, frustration, and eventually, catharsis, as I find my own way to overcome those inner obstacles.

So much more. Van Gogh's “Starry Night,” perhaps the most famous painting I've ever seen in person, is just as dramatic as you'd expect. The paint is layered on thick, with slashing, agitated swirls that are somehow controlled. You can literally feel him fighting against his pain and resentment as he worked the pallet knife.

Picasso's “Three Musicians,” which made me miss my guitar that much more.

My biggest discovery was Ellsworth Kelly's “Line Form Color.” Some of you may remember “Squares”, a small book of Pop Art inspired abstract photographs I put out several years ago. Well, I was standing on the shoulders of giants, even if I didn't know it at the time. Kelly painted these in 1951, nearly 60 years before my exploration of the subject.

So much. Just so very, very much. I'm exhausted and elated, humbled and buoyed, discouraged and inspired, and those aren't contradictions. Those are the emotions of humanity; light verses dark, pain verses pleasure. Those are the emotions of great art.

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