Tag Archives: Museum of Modern Art

Culture High & Low

If you’re feeling a bit blue, stuck in NYC while your friends are rocking out at SXSW, you should be reminded of some of the amazing cultural events happening in our fine city- both High and Low.

This past weekend G and I attended, among other diversions (he met my mother for the first time this weekend! It went well!) Franco Zeffirelli’s legendary production of La Bohème at the Metropolitan Opera. More than perhaps any other opera La Bohème has captured the imagination of generations of artists. Its compelling story was the basis for the musical Rent. Baz Luhrmann’s version also spent time on Broadway. Recently there was even a production without music.  As G said after the performance, the characters are much more familiar than most characters in opera; these are people you can imagine knowing. Anna Netrebko was an incredible Mimi; both her acting and her singing were intensely evocative. I cried (of course) when she died but I also felt that the story had a message for the audience, much more so than the melodramatic plots of Aida or Tosca. If you haven’t seen this classic I highly recommend finding a way to do so.

Anna Netrebko

Anna Netrebko

I will be seeing a much less classic opera next week- The Nose is a surrealist opera based on a short story by Gogol.

Artist William Kentridge defies genres with Shostakovich’s adaptation of Gogol’s story. “The opera is about the terrors of hierarchy,” Kentridge says. “There’s a mixture of anarchy and the absurd that interests me. I love in this opera the sense that anything is possible.” The new production is conducted by definitive Shostakovich interpreter Valery Gergiev. Acclaimed baritone Paulo Szot, who won a Tony Award® for South Pacific, makes his Met debut as the man who wakes up to discover that his nose has disappeared.

You can get a taste of Kentridge’s work at the MOMA, which is currently hosting a retrospective.

Best known for animated films based on charcoal drawings, he also works in prints, books, collage, sculpture, and the performing arts. This exhibition explores five primary themes in Kentridge’s art from the 1980s to the present, and underscores the inter relatedness of his mediums and disciplines, particularly through a selection of works from the Museum’s collection. Included are works related to the artist’s staging and design of Dmitri Shostakovich’s The Nose.

I haven’t visited the Kentridge exhibit yet but G and I did take a look at Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present, which just opened to the public on Sunday. The exhibit documents her various performance pieces, both through video and photographs of the original performances, and through recreations by actors. The most interesting, and disturbing, of the latter was a pair of naked actors- one female, one male- standing within a narrow archway; you had to pass between them to get into the next room. It was impossible not to touch the naked pair and this was hugely unnerving but, simply because it was unnerving, forced you as the viewer to think further about the piece. I am thrilled that the MOMA has chosen to showcase such challenging work. The exhibit is a triumph for the curator, Klaus Biesenbach, who has succeeded in creating a retrospective of performance art, something never done in the MOMA, and possibly never done as successfully in any other major museum.

You can see some less established artists in the Jonathan LeVine Gallery’s Five Year Anniversary Exhibition.

Since 2005, Jonathan LeVine Gallery has been an important venue for Street Art (ephemeral work placed in public urban environments) and Pop Surrealism (work influenced by illustration, comic book art, and pop culture imagery). As such, the pieces in this exhibition—comprised of paintings, drawings, and sculptures—will be primarily figurative with a strong sense of narration.

I am quite a fan of this image (Ray Caesar, Arabesque):

Ray Caesar, Arabesque

Ray Caesar, Arabesque

On the lower end of the culture spectrum, this Thursday you can attend a retrospective of a rather different sort- a burlesque tribute to Dolly Parton! I expect The Queen of Country Music would be thrilled!

P.S. Best way to spend St. Patty’s Day- Benefit Concert for City Reliquary at the Knitting Factory!

Please follow myself and Miss Scorpio on twitter for the latest and be sure to sign up for the G&S listserve so you can benefit from the editing that eats up so much of my time… Enjoy!

An Afternoon at the MOMA

This weekend, in between the Biblioball and a ride with the Levys on a subway train from 1931, G and I spent an afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art. It was overcrowded and hectic but the art on the walls is well worth battling the crowds to see! I’m a member so we had no problem strolling into the Tim Burton exhibit, but if you’re not a member be sure to buy your timed ticket in advance because they have been selling out.

The Tim Burton retrospective is the first exhibit of its kind celebrating the work of this mad genius, and a mad genius he most certainly is! From the quirky sketches of his early career to the ephemera related to his more recent films, Burton’s art reveals the workings of a very unusual imagination. The imagery is almost always unsettling even when it’s humorous and the thought process of the artist remains opaque. I came away from the exhibit admiring his talent and creativity but also feeling a little bit afraid of Tim Burton. I think this segment of Mars Attacks truly epitomizes the macabre slant of his imagination. This sketch is on the lighter end:

Tim Burton Sketch

Tim Burton Sketch

It was interesting to walk through the exhibit on the Bauhaus School directly after seeing the Burton exhibit; much of Burton’s imagery seems at least tangentially related to the art that originated at Bauhaus.

The exhibition gathers over four hundred works that reflect the broad range of the school’s productions, including industrial design, furniture, architecture, graphics, photography, textiles, ceramics, theater design, painting, and sculpture, many of which have never before been exhibited in the United States. It includes not only works by the school’s famous faculty and best-known students—including Anni Albers, Josef Albers, Herbert Bayer, Marianne Brandt, Marcel Breuer, Lyonel Feininger, Walter Gropius, Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy, Lucia Moholy, Lilly Reich, Oskar Schlemmer, and Gunta Stölzl—but also a broad range of works by innovative but less well-known students, suggesting the collective nature of ideas.

We also wandered up to the 6th floor for a members-only preview of the new Gabriel Orozco exhibit (now open to the public!). I think the curator made a mistake in placing some of the more questionable pieces at the start of the exhibit; when I saw that the empty shoe-box next to the guard was “art” I considered not venturing any further. I recommend forgiving Orozco for both the shoe-box and the subsequent yogurt caps and heading into the center of the exhibit, where you can see my favorite piece- a Citroën automobile surgically reduced to two-thirds its normal width.


Though certainly one of the more expensive and crowded museums in the city, the MOMA remains an essential stop if you’re looking for the the truly remarkable art of the last century. You should also read my earlier post for some smaller galleries worth checking out this winter.

Stay tuned for more upcoming events and follow me on twitter for the latest!

We Call it ART!

There are so many marvelous exhibits on view at the moment (or about to be unveiled) that I’m devoting a post to art in The Big Red Apple!

A startling outdoor exhibit that explores the horrors of sex trafficking is on view in Washington Sq. Park until Sunday. The exhibit, titled Journey, is designed to take “viewers through a range of emotions that sex slaves feel throughout their journey, ranging from hope to desperation.”

Part of the Journey Exhibit

Part of the Journey Exhibit

The Journey exhibit includes the work of a variety of artists, one of whom has another show worth seeing at the moment; Anish Kapoor’s sculpture Memory is currently on view at the Guggenheim:

Utilizing Cor-Ten steel for the first time, the sculpture represents a milestone in Kapoor’s career. Memory’s thin steel skin, only eight millimeters thick, suggests a form that is ephemeral and unmonumental. The sculpture appears to defy gravity as it gently glances against the periphery of the gallery walls and ceiling. However, as a 24-ton volume, Memory is also raw, industrial, and foreboding. Positioned tightly within the gallery, Memory is never fully visible; instead the work fractures and divides the gallery into several distinct viewing areas. The division compels visitors to navigate the museum, searching for vantage points that offer only glimpses of the sculpture.

If monumental sculpture is your thing I highly recommend the Richard Serra show currently up at the Gagosian Gallery; no one does monumental quite like Serra and in the confined space of a gallery (as versus an outdoor installation) these two pieces, Blind Spot and Open Ended, are incredibly powerful.

Richard Serra "Open Ended"

Richard Serra "Open Ended"

Downtown Brooklyn is a bit more surreal than usual with The Public Art Fund’s installation of Double Take on the MetroTech campus.

Designed with the site’s specific conditions in mind, the artists have taken an element of the existing architecture or environment and subjected it to a process of modification or metamorphosis. Each work plays with fantasy and illusion to force a shift in perception, in turn creating a mirage of sorts.

I’m rather fond of this image and I plan to check out the piece, by Matt Irie and Dominick Talvacchio, sometime soon.

Matt Irie and Dominick Talvacchio "Lamppost"

Matt Irie and Dominick Talvacchio "Lamppost"

Finally, the big exhibit on the horizon is the first major retrospective of the works of Tim Burton, opening at the MOMA for member-only previews next week (I’m a member so shoot me an email if you want to tag along). The exhibit will include “artwork generated during the conception and production of his films, and highlights a number of unrealized projects and never-before-seen pieces, as well as student art, his earliest non-professional films, and examples of his work as a storyteller and graphic artist for non-film projects.”

That’s all for the moment; stay tuned for more upcoming events and belated reviews of some of my recent adventures! Also be sure to follow me on twitter for the very latest updates!

Art Review(s)

For those of you who have heard the hoopla about Monet’s Water Lilies at the Museum of Modern Art- DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, go to the MOMA to see that exhibit. It is one room with a few paintings, almost all of which have been constantly on display as part of the permanent collections of the MOMA and the Met for years. DO NOT get a timed ticket and wait around to see them. However, the Ron Arad exhibit, which is up at the MOMA until Oct. 19th, is well worth the trip. If you don’t have $20 to spend on art check it out Friday between 4-8 when museum admission is free!

Among the most influential designers of our time, Ron Arad (Israeli, b. 1951) stands out for his daredevil curiosity about technology and materials and for the versatile nature of his work. Trained at the Jerusalem Academy of Art and at London’s Architectural Association, Arad has produced an outstanding array of innovative objects over the past twenty-five years, from almost unlimited series of objects to carbon fiber armchairs and polyurethane bottle racks. He has also designed memorable spaces, some plastic and tactile, others ethereal and digital.

It’s hard to convey how exciting Arad’s carbon fiber armchairs and other “objects” actually are but I can say that their appeal is more universal than you might suppose; my 84-year-old grandmother was transfixed by a chandelier of his creation and had it been for sale I suspect it would currently be taking up a large portion of her apartment in Forest Hills. So avoid the Monet madness and head up to the sixth floor for some truly unique and innovative art!

Ron Arad

Ron Arad

Starting Today- Ongoing Events plus One Bonus Event for Tonight!

First off, let me tell you about the event I just came across that you may want to check out this evening. The Universal Record Database is hosting a World Record Appreciation Party tonight at Pianos. You can go to watch people perform absurd stunts or sign up to perform one yourself. Here’s one of my favorite videos from their site- Fastest Time To Solve a Rubik’s Cube While Riding a Unicycle.

Starting tonight the New Directors/New Films Series will be at the Museum of Modern Art:

Now in its thirty-eighth year, the renowned New Directors/New Films festival, presented jointly by The Film Society of Lincoln Center and The Museum of Modern Art, introduces New York audiences to the work of emerging or not-yet-established filmmakers from around the world. All of the films in New Directors/New Filmsare having either U.S. or New York premieres, and many of the screenings are introduced by the filmmakers. This year the festival takes place at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center and at The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 1 at MoMA, where the festival opens on March 25.

The New York Times recommends “Amreeka,” about a Palestinian woman who migrates to Chicago; “Unmade Beds,” about an East London squat; “We Live in Public,” a documentary about the heady days of the Internet bubble and one of Silicon Alley’s most prominent entrepreneurs; and “Cold Souls,” in which Paul Giamatti, playing himself as a tormented actor, undergoes a Gondry-like process that enables him to keep his soul in storage.

Also ongoing, The Classical Stage Company is showing The Proust Project- “a new adaptation series featuring a set of staged readings based on Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past.”

The Proust Project

The Proust Project

You may remember I told you about the production of Uncle Vanya I saw at the Classical Stage Company; it was incredible and I’m confident that this production will also be worth checking out. Buy tickets soon because they’re very limited!

Stay tuned for more additions and my weekend post!