Here are some thoughts from my trip to the Museum of Modern Art. Its was lovely time. I spent hours there and could spend many more hours there. Though modern and contemporary art and I have not always been on the same terms I’m learning to understand and appreciate some of the things that artists have done. And some work, though I don’t always understand the concept or the execution of the idea, is intriguing and thought provoking. These works are only a few of the many I saw and I’m going to go into deeper detail with certain artists that I was able to see in the near future.
One of the first things I saw at MoMA was the Gilbert & George To Be With Art Is All We Ask piece. I have learned about their work and seen some of their performances, and I’ve never really been intrigued by their work. They’re a pair of artists that were modern, performing artists who used themselves as props for their “Happenings”. But their piece here has a poem-type writing and I thought the text was interesting and got me thinking, and I don’t believe some of the things they say but it raised some questions about art and my own art. So, I’m going to share the text from their piece:
“Oh art, what are you? You are so strong and powerful, so beautiful and moving. You make us walk around and around, pacing the city at all hours, in and out of our Art for All room. We really do love you and we really do hate you. Why do you have so many faces and voices? You make us thirst for you and then to run from you - escaping completely into a normal life - getting up, having breakfast, going to the work-shop and being sure of putting our mind and energy into the making of a door or maybe a simple table and chair. The whole life would surely be so easeful, so drunk with the normality of work and the simple pleasures of loving and hanging around for our lifetime. Oh Art, where did you come from, who mothered such a strange being. For what kind of people are you - are for the feeble of mind are you for the poor-at-heart, are you for those with no soul. Are you a branch of nature’s fantastic network or are you an invention of some ambitious man? Do you come from a long line of arts? For every artist is born in the usual way and we have never seen a young artist. Is to become an artist to be reborn, or is it a condition of life? Coming slowly over a person like the daybreak. It brings the art ability to do this funny thing and shows you new possibilities for feeling and scratching at oneself and surroundings, setting standards, making you go into every scene and every contact, every touching nerve and all your senses. And Art we are driven by you at incredible speed, ignorant of the danger you are pushing and dragging us into. And yet Art, there is no going back, all roads go only on and on. We are happy for the good times that you give us and we work and wait only for those these titbits from your table. If you only knew how much these mean to us, transporting from the depths of tragedy and black despair to a beautiful life of happiness, taking us where the good times are. When this happens we are able to walk again with our heads held high. We artists need only to see a little light through the trees of the forest to be happy and working and back into gear again. And yet we dont forget you. Art, we continue to dedicate our artists art to you alone, for you and your pleasure, for Art’s sake. We would honestly like to say to you, Art how happy we are to be your sculptors. We think about you all the time and feel very sentimental about you. We do realise that you are what we really crave for and many times we meet you in our dreams. We have glimpsed you through the abstract world and have tasted of your reality. One day we thought we saw you in a crowded street, you were dressed in a light brown suit, white shirt and a curious blue tie. You looked very smart but there was about your dress a curious worness and dryness. You were walking alone, light of step and in a very controlled sense. We were fascinated by the lightness of your face, your almost colourless eyes and your dusty-blonde hair. We approached you nervously and then just as we neared you you went out of sight for a second and then we could not find you again. We felt sad and unlucky and at the same time happy and hopeful to have seen your reality. We now feel very familiar with you, Art. We have learned from you many of the ways of life. In our work of drawings, sculptures, living-pieces, photo messages, written and spoken pieces we are also to be seen, frozen into a gazing for you. You will never find us working physically or with our nerves and yet we shall not cease to pose for you, Art. Many times we would like to know what you would like of us, your messages to us are not always easily understood. We realize that it cannot be too simple because of your great complexity and all-meaning. If at times we do not measure up or fulfil your wishes you mus believe that it is not because we are unserious but only because we are artists. We ask always for your help, Art for we need much strength in this modern time to be only artists of a life-time. We know that you are above the people of our artist world but we feel that we should tell you of the ordinariness and struggling that abounds and we ask you if this must be. Is it right that artists should only be able to work for you for only the days when they are new, fresh and crisp. Why can’t you let them pay homage to you for all their days, growing stronger in your company and coming to know you better? Oh Art, please let us all relax with you. Recently Art, we thought to set ourselves teh task of painting a large set of narrative views descriptive of our lookin for you. We like very much to look forward to doing it and we are sure that they are really right for you.
TO BE WITH ART IS ALL WE ASK.”
This piece got me thinking while I was going through the museum. I also got to see a really cool Yoko Ono piece, which was in the third room I went in. Her piece, Wish Tree, is a project in where she set up a tree outside of the museum and left a stack of tags by the tree for people to participate in making the art. Viewers could take a tag and write any wish on it and hang it in the tree. The tree was outside in the sculpture garden but inside there was a clear box that was filled with these tags, millions of tag that she has collected. And, appropriately, there was a tag which read “I wish the Beatles were still together”. I found that to be a lovely coincidence.
A triptych I also got to see was Garden II by Richard Artschwager, a painter/sculptor/photographer and eventually some architecture during the mid to late twentieth century. Artsachwager used synthetic polymer paint instead of oils, and the texture that it gives the painting is very luscious. Its looks smooth, if you were able to touch the painting it would feel like running your fingers over some very smooth and shiny plastic. Though it does have a smooth-like look to it there is still an incredible amount of texture. His painting handling reminded me a little bit of Van Gogh, in the sense that he used small spiral-like patterns within the painting. It gives it a little bit of a blurry, unpixelated look to it. But that paint handling is what had my eyes locked onto it.
Oh, and also a Cézanne. One of my favorite painters and impressionists. And this particular painting is one of my favorites of his works. A class impressionist painter who bridged the gap between cubism and impressionism. His work is stunning, his technique, his color palette, all of it is wonderful work.