Saturday, February 28, 2009

New York Highlight 2: art edition

I'm sitting here in a our fav. bookstore/cafe (yes the one with the sandwich) with Bluebelle and we're just catching up on things, grading (or attempting to grade) and reflecting on my presentation yesterday...which is over, and thus good.

One of the other experiences bluebelle and I shared was our first time at MOMA, in New York. I've wanted to go to MOMA for a while now and it was a must-see for me on this trip. We went (along with our dear friend Heather) on a day (that was a public holiday here in the US).

First of all, it was so heartening to see how many people make a day of it by going to a museum. The state of the arts, if our experience at the MOMA is any indication, is healthy- even in tough times such as these. It was really wonderful to see so many people taking hours out to appreciate art, telling their little children about famous paintings and to watch people of all ages, types and nationalities wandering around the museum.

I couldn't help but think back to some of the beautiful pieces of art that lie dustily neglected in museums in India because of archaic rules, bad management and an unfriendly user-experience (I'm not picking just on India but that is the context I know best). The MOMA does things right- one of the marvels for me was something as simple as the coat check system which managed to place and retrieve thousands of bags and coats in an an extremely timely, efficient and friendly manner. These small things make a big difference.

There was plenty of art I really liked- including Picasso who I always try to appreciate but never really GET. My favorites were Matisse's 'red studio', Jasper John's 'Map' and some beautiful new finds (for me) like Balla's 'Street light' But my favorite was Klimt's 'The Park'.

Very different from the quintessential Klimt in my mind, but yet very Klimt. The picture does not do it justice - but I imagine the beauty of the varied specks of green is difficult to render on film anyway.

Bluebelle and I wandered for several hours until we came across the following pieces of art that we immediately categorized into 'WTF art'. A bunch of wool and lint on the floor with mirrors in between? A string in the shape of trapeziod? A pink plastic ledge propped up against a wall? I don't get it, dude. I know that there is probably some deep explanation for it but our first reaction was "really?". So there, I've outed myself and bluebelle as philistines.

The bs explanations for each of these pieces just added to our incredulity. Here is the description of the pink ledge called (for some reason) "The Absolutely Naked Fragrance" (John McCracken). This is what the pink plastic plank ( a far better, alliterative to boot title in my opinion) represents:

"The polished resin surface recalls the aesthetic of 1960's southern California surfboard and Kustom Kar cultures, the title was drawn from advertising slogans in fashion magazines. "
(ok so we have somewhat of a reason for that title)


"The plank's interaction with both the floor and the wall is meant to call attention to the space being occupied by both viewer and object. I see the plank as existing between both worlds, McCracken says, the floor representing the physical world of standing objects, trees, cars, buildings, human bodies and everything, and the wall representing the world of the imagination, illusionistic painting space, human mental space and all that.'


Do you see all that in this below?

Anyway, the WTF art (as bluebelle and I will forever call it), the stunning design section and the magnificent works of art in the giant, cool spaces of the MOMA building all came together to make a great experience and definitely a highlight of the New York trip.

I didn't get to copy down the explanation for the next WTF piece but following from an idea from my sister (who attempted -with her art-history chops- to come up with some sort of understanding of this), I challenge/ invite you to write a suitably arty explanation of what I will call 'Stretchy purple string':

What would the little plaque next to this say, if you were the curator at MOMA? Do weigh in below.


Bluebell said...

I just liked our take-on that 'art' :) But I must say, my super art-guru roommate had a very plausible explanation for that, which you need to hear from her as she is THE art person, and I still don't think I have that kind of vocabulary that would reveal any 'artistic' understanding :)

Bluebelle said...

on a side note, i finally made it!!!! i am officially Bluebelle now!!!

B. S. Prakash said...

The white on the wall signifies the pure and the untainted. `Purple` connotes the `brave` Vietnam vets of the 70s when young Americans took pride in being purple hearts. They are confined to the coffins as denoted by the space encased by the purple string. However, essentially they too are white.
The artist orginally had thought of a blotch of red in the space to denote the blood spilt, but was dissuaded by his girlfriend whose younger brother had died in the war. This is a piece that according to critics hastened the end of American invovement in Vietnam. Kissinger though has termed it one of the most offensive art objects of 20th century.

Lightlight said...

Excellent papa. Makes complete sense now haha

prpriya said...

"Purple tense" [would-be title]

A line of purple string stretches across and then away from a white wall, its ends meeting on wooden floorboards. The shape is not quite a rectangle, but may appear to be so, depending on the perspective of the viewer. The uneven lengths of the shape allow for a sense of movement, juxtaposed with an underlying tension as the string attempts to 'free itself' from the confines of the surfaces to which it is attached.

"Purple tense" was commissioned by gallerist Justine Hertova, as part of her pathbreaking exhibition "Line(Arity)" in 1964. The stark simplicity of the piece, together with the problematics of its colouring, was hailed by critics as a significant contribution to the Minimalist movement of the time.

prpriya said...

PS: Papa's is absolutely brilliant. I loved "However, essentially they too are white". Oh, and Kissinger's 'reaction'.

lightlight said...

oh my god- you both are brilliant. Yours read so well for a moment I was truly

Bluebell said...

wow! both mr. prakash and priya are amazing!!! it must be the prakash gene :) i can't believe 'that purple thing' can generate so 'deep' meanings! And I really feel so stupid not to be able to see all those things in this purple wood :) And supposedly I am doing discourse analysis in my diss!!

lightlight said...

"the problematics of its coloring" ...that is an amazing line. God, just brilliant kitty.

prpriya said...

Awww, I just threw in every viable BS phrase I could think of. "...the problematics of..." was a major 'it' phrase in our classes. Oh, I miss those days!
Keep up the interesting (and provocative) pieces kitty! Oh, and I looooved all of your food pieces (yes, I finally bookmarked your blog and will now read it every day!).