Yesterday I took advantage of Free Friday Nights -presented by Uniqlo- at the MoMA. I had never been there before and I typically like modern/contemporary art. As expected there was a lot of unusual stuff there, but there was a decent amount of things that I found cool as well. And, as my Dad always says, “you can’t beat free.”
One of the first “famous” things I ran into were the Warhol Campell’s Soup cans. There was a room dedicated to all of the variations he did with different flavors of soup. I still think he tricked people into thinking this is art and I found it funny that the room was filled with people taking pictures of the various cans on their phones.
A) you’re only doing this to show off to your friends that you’ve seen it in person, b) you’re no longer “experiencing the art,” and c) when are you ever realistically going to revisit that photo and think back on the fond memory you had taking a picture of it?
The next room was filled with a bunch of goons doing the same thing with the Marilyn Monroe Warhol’s. To be honest, what I found way more interesting was the concept sketch he did of the can before making the final version. It showed actual talent.
Much later in my trip I came across this iconic Salvador Dali painting. I was super surprised to see how small it was in person. I feel like it could have fit on an 8.5 x 11. It was just weird because I was so used to seeing it blown up on posters in dorm rooms. However, though this one is cool, there were a bunch of other surrealist paintings, not by Dali, that were just as good, if not better and they were much bigger.
Eventually I made my way to the room that contained The Starry Night. (I always thought it was just called Starry Night without the “the” at the beginning). As was the case with the Mona Lisa (when I saw it at the Louvre), there were a bunch of goons crowded around it just because they know its famous when in that same room there were several other paintings that were just as skillfully done that were going, essentially, unrecognized. It’s so funny to me how so many people get dressed up in their fancy clothes, seemingly go to the museum, just to be seen looking at art.
There was another room nearby that was dedicated to Monet’s Water Lilies. First of all, I had no idea that all of these were under one roof. Secondly, I didn’t realize that these pieces, contrary to say the Dali piece, were so big. One on each side took up the length of the entire wall.
Just so we’re clear, I’m the first to admit that I like seeing famous things, just because they’re famous, but it’s obnoxious to see herds of sheeple do it. That being said, the following are things that were less famous that I found particularly interesting.
One of the coolest exhibits was the section dedicated to music. It displayed different instruments, different listening devices, and posters for concerts from different eras. My favorites were the record players and speakers designed by Dieter Rams. He is a genius at minimalist design and his work is beautiful.
The thing that took me for a trip however was seeing the first generation iPod in a glass display. I felt like John Spartan in the history museum in Demolition Man. It was weird to see something invented in my lifetime on display in a museum.
There were also a couple of sections that included posters from the Vienna Secession. I really loved this, not only because the designs are beautiful and ahead of their time, but I remember learning about them in my History of Graphic Design class. Another piece I was surprised to come across was Street Light -pictured below- as I had also learned about it in that class.
A few other things caught my attention such as a dress made out of this plastic-ey material. There was this one painting on a big square canvas that was white and had a huge portion diagonally sectioned off in black. It wasn’t until I looked at it from and angle that I noticed the line had a slight curve to it. Though simple, it struck me that the artist was skillful enough to make a line with so little bend to it, that from dead on, it appeared to be straight.
In another room there was a painting of a tree in a field with buildings, like a farm or something, in the background. The thing that blew me away was not the subject matter, but the mastery of the detail. From a distance it appeared to be an out of focus photograph. To me, if this was done intentionally, and I believe it was, it takes a great deal of skill to first of all make a painting look photo-realistic, but then to make the details just “off” enough to make this “photographic painting” appear to be out of focus.
One painting that was unexpectedly cool was the first in a series of three. It was a train in the style of futurism. At first I just saw numbers, but then I thought that they had to be there for a reason and sure enough, the train revealed itself to me.
There was another cool thing where the artist took the phases of the moon and correlated them with the letters of the alphabet. Then, on the other wall there was a series of the same moon phase images laid out to make a sentence. I didn’t have the time, energy, or interest to decode it, but it was still cool.
Lastly, being the travel nerd that I am, I found an arrival/departure board which was the only thing I took a picture of. I’m not sure why it was there, but I was glad to see it. They even had it powered up so that it could change the display. I’m not sure I had ever seen one in person before so this one really made my day.