Thursday, September 16, 2010

Art bliss at MOMA

My partner and I just got back from a week in New York, and there are about a half-dozen things I could blog about at length, drawing on the fab time we had there. Some fraction of all that will follow over the next couple of weeks, and some will undoubtedly be left to decay on the cutting room floor.

Some will remember that Matthew is a painter, others that I count museum days as happy days. It will not surprise anybody who remembers both these factoids that we visited a fair few museums while in a city that counts itself among the very richest in art treasures. I was reminded as we tripped through the Museum of Modern Art of a fairy tales read in my youth -- was it a variant of "Ali Baba and the Forty Theives"? something else from A Thousand and One Nights? a tale from Hans Christian Andersen? I can't remember for the life of me ... but:

The gist involved a protagonist who finds a treasure cave whose entrance opens only for a short while, during which he may enter, scoop up some treasure, and exit. If he overstays the time he will be trapped in the cave forever and have nothing. He enters carrying a great sack for the treasure he expects to haul away, and finds a chamber filled with piles of silver coins, which he eagerly stuffs into his sack. Then, with an eye to his hourglass, he enters a further chamber, and finds it piled with gold coins. He dumps the silver, and eagerly fills his sack with gold instead. Lather, rinse, repeat: the next chamber contains emeralds; the next rubies; a further chamber is overflowing with diamonds. By the time he has emptied his sack of rubies to fill it again with diamonds, the last grains of sand are falling from the top of his hourglass. As I remember the story he does get out of the cave -- but only just -- and to escape with his life he must leave his sack of riches behind.

The point of this half-remembered tale, is that as Matthew and I walked from gallery to gallery in MOMA, it felt as if we were entering one room full of exquisite riches only to find another beyond it, just as in the treasure cave of the story.

Here are a few of the most dizzying jewels from the collection, leading with two Matisse paintings from an exhibition I was lucky enough to be seeing again (the first time, as I mentioned in passing this past May, was when I happened to visit the Art Institute of Chicago when Matisse: Radical Invention 1913-1917 was installed at that great institution):

Mattisse, Portrait of Yvonne Landsberg (1914)

Matisse, Goldfish and Palette (1914-15)

And then, a few of many treasures from MOMA's permanent collection:

Picasso, Three Women at the Spring (1921)

Picasso, Boy Leading a Horse (1905-06)

Cezanne, Pines and Rocks (1897)

Modigliani, Anna Zborowska (1917)

Chagall, I and the Village (1911)

I'll spare you the treasures we saw at the Guggenheim, the Frick Collection, the Morgan, the Cloisters, the Met, and the Neue Gallerie ... at least for now. Chances are I'll come around to a couple of canvasses from the Guggenheim and the Neue Gallerie one of these weeks. Stay tuned.

Related posts on One Finger Typing:

The Steins Collect at SF-MOMA
Art as long as history, time beyond memory
Gustav Klimt's portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer: a saga
Art bliss at MOMA


  1. i LOVE the NY museums, my daughter is a stuudent in NYU, so whenever we visit i go to check out what's new in the MOMA, Metropolitan, etc.

  2. Most wonderful recollection of your visit. This made me wants to visit it again.

    Matthew Felix Sun