Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New York And Some Stuff I Liked

I was in New York this past week with my daughter and Tom.  At first I was grumpy and overwhelmed.

Then two things charmed me.  First, I fell in love with  the timeless quality of a city that never sleeps. Even though bed time in my real life is about 9:30, it would be nice to know I could get a pedicure or a fresh deli salad in the middle of the night.  I would get comfort just knowing these things were possible.  Time would disappear.  Maybe living like this, people would live longer...  ok... I know that is untrue.  

Second,  everyone, and I mean everyone rides the subway, not just the car-less, or parkingless or those who just  need to get to work.  This makes the subway a great place for one of my favorite activities, people watching!

We went to a lot of great places.  However, one I recommend is The Tenement Museum.  It was a evocative experience that is very relatable.   All three of us agreed it was one of the high lights of the trip.  

We went to the MOMA, of course... I saw some nice surrealist paintings.

I like this painting by Max Ernst.  So weird.  It is a woman in a hedge, or a woman as a hedge.  I wonder if he used a sponge to get that texture? 

Max Ernst

I also liked the Rosenquist and the Katz.  There is obvious skill in their use of light and composition.  I don’t know why I like Katz.  Maybe it is his courage to paint that lazily, and that thin at that scale.   He is fresh and has a great sense of color. 
Alex Katz
James Rosenquist is easier for me to love.  Though his images can be quite jarring.  "Mad Men" on acid.  His compositions are graphically seductive, as opposed to seductively graphic.   
James Rosenquist
 In any case,  I am compelled to analyze the paintings of these two guys.  They make it look soooo easy. 


I saw one of Gerhardt Richter’s black and white portraits.  It is so beautiful in person.
Gerhard Richter.  It is really better in person.

I always liked the way Ed Ruscha and Richter blur some of their images.  I don’t know about Ruscha, but I always assumed Richter did these paintings fast and thin and then blurred them in one go.  However, seeing them in person, I am not so sure. They don’t look that thin or that fast.  Though he left evidence in some parts of brushing over images with a soft brush.  Some parts it is not so obvious.  He probably took forever adding paint and wiping it away till he got what he wanted.  As he demonstrated so mesmerizingly, painting his abstracts in his documentary.  Like a Zen Master doing it over and over till he got that rare combination of skill and spontaneity.

In any case, in person, the portrait looked rich and lush, like there is a transparent layer of marzipan laid on top of the painting, integrating the surface.  A lot of images look better in books or on computers, like my favorite guy, Morandi, lush in print, thin and sketchy in person.  But Richter's definitely look better in person.

Ed Ruscha

I painted rather surreal stuff in the 90’s.    Naive painting was in vogue.  Too much skill and realism was distrusted, at least that was my impression.  Seems funny now.   

This is an old painting of mine from that time.  "Every Dream Is  A Wish"

At the MOMA I saw a vase made by bees.  Talk about skill. 

We loved New York and found New Yorkers so very polite and friendly.
The three of us, on the other hand, could be found, freaking out over directions all up and down 34th Street.  Finally, Tom and I learned to leave all navigation to my eleven year old daughter.   She was the only one that ever knew which way we were suppose to go.   

Can't wait to go back. 

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