Monday, December 17, 2012

Finding what I wasn't looking for

In New York late last month I visited MOMA to see Edvard Munch's 1895 pastel The Scream, one of four versions of this image produced by the artist between 1893 and 1910, and the only version that is privately owned. It's on view at MOMA for only six months, through April 29, 2013.

My lo-qual photograph is taken at a poor angle because you would not believe how many viewers were crowded around to view (and photograph) this rare exhibit. I had to jockey even for even that position. At least it proves I was there. Sort of proves?

I was hoping that I would also get to see an old favorite from MOMA's collection, Picasso's Boy Leading a Horse (1905-6), a painting I've mentioned twice before on this blog. Alas, it wasn't on view at the end of November, but I was glad to revisit the artist's Three Women at the Spring, and also a favorite by Marc Chagall, I and the Village.

The next day I took the subway up from Union Square, where I was staying, to the Guggenheim. I wanted especially to see another favorite painted by Chagall, Paris par la fenĂȘtre, also the topic of a prior blog post (because the painting figures in my novel Consequence). But that canvas, too, had gone missing, taken from the gallery walls in favor of other work from the museum's collection. Well, you can't always get what you want, as that skinny English fellow once sang.

Up on the top floor of the Guggenheim -- not the iconic core of the building, the spiral ramp that Frank Lloyd Wright wound around the building's open atrium, but the north side of the museum where the concept of "floors" actually applies -- I found something I hadn't known I wanted to see until I saw it laid out on the gallery floor.

Sandstars, a "monumental, sculptural carpet of nearly 1,200 objects" (says the curator's note) that the artist found on a playing field in New York City, and on a wildlife reserve at Isla Arena, Mexico, was created by Gabriel Orozoco.

It's ... just a bunch of old stuff, worn out by the city or the sea, things you certainly wouldn't stare at if you were hanging out on a playing field in New York City, and might be only mildly curious about if you found them washed up on a beach in Mexico. Yet the artist's arrangement of the objects -- by size and color, more or less -- made a compellingly beautiful floorscape:

I was glad I'd come. Paris par la fenĂȘtre will have to wait for another visit...

Related posts on One Finger Typing:

Art bliss at MOMA
The Steins Collect at SF-MOMA
Allusion in fiction

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