Monday, May 16, 2005

Visiting the new MoMA; Eating MozzArepas

We finally got over to the new MOMA, only seven months after it opened. I liked it, particularly the configuration of the space and the distinctive lighting. Here's a picture I took of the atrium.

Terry Teachout has a pretty good one-liner on the difference between the old and the new MoMA approaches to 20th century art:

Visitors to the old MoMA had only one way to experience the unfolding of modernism: in a sequence carefully controlled by the entrances and exits to the successive galleries. The new floor plan, by contrast, is much more open. MoMA still tells a highly idiosyncratic "story" about modern art, but you can read the chapters in whatever order you choose.

Yes. It seems to me there is much more space for the Russians (Rochenko's "constructivism" and Malevich's "suprematism") as well as the German expressionists in the new scheme. There is a very memorable array of paintings by Egon Schiele, Ernst Kirchner, and Oscar Kokoschka, all next to one another. Klee and Beckmann are in different rooms. Somehow the Klee paintings in the MoMA aren't that exciting to me, though Beckmann's triptychs are pretty powerful.

Other random thoughts and links:

--When the new MoMA opened, what many people said was, what about _______ ? Many old favorites in the MoMA's collection, such as Larry Rivers' "Washington Crossing the Delaware," have been put in storage. Perhaps it's a reflection of critical fashion? Perhaps it's just for a change?

--I was impressed at how vibrant the restored Demoiselles d'Avignon looks. The pre-restored version was kind of dingy; it was hard to see what all the fuss over this breakthrough painting by Picasso was about.

--Also nice is this Kiki Smith piece (each metal jug has gothic lettering, with the name of a bodily fluid or ailment: mucus, diarrhea, semen, etc). I didn't know Kiki Smith before. (Here is my photo of one of the jugs on Flickr.)

--Some other artists who were new to me were Julie Mehretu, Charles LeDray ("Oasis"; the link points to a photo I posted on Flickr), and David Alfaro Siqueiros ("Collective Suicide").

* * * * *
We had a kind of messy, multicultural lunch at the annual Ninth Avenue Food Festival. In addition to (Polish) Pierogies and Indonesian veggie fritters, we enjoyed some Venezuelan Arepas. In New York, the Arepas you get come stuffed, predictably, with Mozzarella -- the "Mozzarepa."

Very simple -- and yet completely excessive.


Ms. World said...

Sounds like someone is enjoying the spring!

10:12 AM  
Amardeep said...

Yes. But are you thinking of the Arepas or the art?


10:52 AM  
Ms. World said...

I`m thinking of both. Did you like the work of Julie Mehretu? I think her story is very interesting.

9:20 PM  
Rani said...


I enjoyed the MoMA very much, but I too had a handful of complaints. My biggest was that "Dancers" by Henri Matisse - one of my favorite paintings - was in the stairwell on one of the floors. Obviously, there is a difference between hanging a piece of art on a white wall and hanging it in a stairwell. I wondered what compelled the curators to do this...

p.s. I wouldn't have found it had I taken the elevator...

9:17 AM  
Amardeep said...


Yes, there was a fair amount of controversy around the choice.

I think the idea behind putting it there was to get people to think about the paitning differently. In the stairs, it's not so much a "must-see-and-admire" blockbuster, but a beautiful painting of people dancing.

Putting it in an odd place (and, it should be noted, a quieter place) forces people to think differently about what it is they're looking at.

(I realize that, by that argument, "Starry Night" should be in a coat closet... maybe so)

11:42 AM  
Anonymous said...

The plaque for "Dancers" mentions that the painting was specifically commissioned for the staircase, hence the leftmost figure was bigger and the rightmost figure is smaller than the rest.

It seems to me to be an appropriate place for it...

11:52 AM  
Rani said...

Modern and post-modern art is so much about context. My mother and I visit the Met often and she loves the Renaissance galleries because they are pretty pictures which often tell a story in a single frame. She doesn't care much for Kandinsky's The Garden of Love even after I run through a brief biography of Kandinsky's life and and try to explain what he was attempting to do. It's just not pretty enough for her to look at.

Anyways, not sure what I am trying to say, except that the context, location, history (in terms of who owned the painting), etc. are so important in appreciating/viewing a piece of modern art, more so, I think than something by Vermeer (who I also adore). Which is why the placement of Dancers bothered me so much...

p.s. Anon: Dancers specifically commissioned for a staircase? Really?

9:23 AM  

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