Sorry about that. I completely and absolutely intended to post this last night but after a day when I thought I just might get through it all (and it had been a big day) with some shred of dignity, after dinner had been cooked and eaten and everything washed and put away, just when I thought I might have a little me time, bang went the cramps.
So, no computer, no writing, posting and not even any telly watching. Certainly not Chuck, which is probably just as well, anyway, as I was singing "Just you Wait" while doing the dishes, only it wasn't 'enry 'iggins who was 'aving to wait, was it? Rather cathartic, though, belting out lines like:
"Done," says the King with a stroke.
"Guard, run and bring in the bloke!"
Heh. I mean, is there any better wish fulfilment song? I mean, really?
So, yesterday? Got soaked to the skin, that's for sure. I shoulda gone for the train, but I thought that the bus was due any minute and it wasn't raining that heavily. No and no. Poor old coat. How it suffers so.
Also ran to run about all over town for meetings, so not the day to do it (weatherwise and downstairs wise) but I managed it. I was so proud of myself. Some days really are just getting through it minute by minute, you know?
So, art for art's sake. This going to be a big one so I might as well get it over and done with.
Well, let's start at the very beginning, for a change. The Met. My first ever Big Museum, and it still holds a place in my heart. It had been calling me again, mainly because I was feeling very aware that there were signifcant gaps in my art viewing, though for me it's really not much more than bird watching, ticking off lists, though I can spot favourite artists across a crowded floor now, which pleases me.
So, the Met, disaster from the start, but such was my trip. Couldn't check into hotel, who seemed surprised to see me despite several emails and phonecalls confirming my reservation, and was told to come back after 3pm. So, okay, I thought, I'll go to the Met anyway. Couldn't check my bag because it had too much stuff in it (well, obviously), but worse than that, I had to turn on the laptop to prove it was a laptop (never before or since have I wished I just had cute kittens for my wallpaper).
So, lugging around 6.5kg of backpack (I weighed it before I got on the plane, not that I need have bothered because Americans take on more carryon than my two small bags combined) off I staggered, having had no sleep for two days at this point, and no breakfast. My beloved Greek and Roman rooms passed in a bit of a blur, mainly because I terrified of bumping into anything, and I was very, very tired and bleary. I remember a few bits and pieces, like the pot with the giant nazi chickens on it. Attack of the Giant Nazi Chickens. It deserves to be made.
Finally got up to the second floor, which is more than I've ever achieved before. Only three Pre-Raphaelites?! Say it ain't so. But a great many Impressionists, and most I'd actually seen before, darn it, but never mind, I had van Goghs and Monets galore and the Degas room all too myself, no scrum of art starved Aussies pushing and shoving for a glimpse here. It always strikes me as rudely shocking to have an empty space before I painting I couldn't get near for jostling back home. Ah well. So I took the opportunity to peer and squint, not that it does me any good, but I felt I ought.
No sure how many Little Dancers I've seen now, but here was another one, though I think I've seen the Met one twice. I was delighted to see some of my fave Monet's again (the ones I saw a few times when they were out here), but I was wondering where the American stuff was?
Some rooms were closed but I found a small exhibition of drawings, far superior to the London one I missed, I think (I have the catalogue) and I was swept into the Picasso exhibition. Well, I think I've got Picasso under my belt now as there were heaps, from every period. At last I understand where all those cartoons in 60s and 70s Oz publications were coming from when I saw the Picasso cartoons. It's nice to have that eureka moment.
Hmmm, where did I go next? Oh yes, did the rounds of yet more rooms, checked off a few more Caravaggios, a De La Tour (which I swear I've seen before) and, oh, lots of things, wonderful things. On my last room I asked the guard where the cafe was and he mentioned the roof top cafe. This meant hastening down stairs and past stuff I promised to look at later (and I did) and up in the lift I went and it was really cool. All bamboo crazy and I could hear this concert going on in the park and I pretty much flopped in a chair in the corner and conversed with a Greek couple and then I sat and listened to this mature southern couple who kept dissing everyone there, as in "Beel," (Yes, she called him Beel, hilarious) "I think I want to do my hair like that," as a bright scarlet art student (because only art students dye their hair bright red) swept past.
Fed, watered, feet as good as they were ever going to get, it was back down to the first floor, where I circled and circled and circled through the rooms, the American rooms, mediaeval stuff, tapestries, tiles, bits and bobs, and just staggered through the Egyptian wing in utter exhaustion, as always. Oh, and I found the American art I was after. Some of those Sargent's I'd missed in the exhibition out here last year when I had the piggy flu? Well, I found 'em. In the storage area. I mean, seriously, WTF, and I was the only one of that opinion (shared my outrage with a visiting American) but there they were. Well, at least I got to see 'em, including a couple that lurk on our fridge in magnet form. Tick.
I wish I'd gone to that exhibition now, because I find myself seriously developing a taste for Sergeant. Oh well. I was lucky enough to see a couple more in San Francisco.
So, staggered out, sat down and listened to some buskers, then caught the bus back down town and finally, finally, got me a hotel room. With a view. Though, infamously, i was so knackered it was two days before I realised the whacking huge building blocking my view was, well, my second night I was sitting in that lovely chair and I just looked up, and up, and still going up. There you are. Ring any bells? Yeah, it was the Empire State Building. Right there. Man oh man.
Anyway, Guggenheim. Mercifully small and full of a lot of stuff I had no interest in and I was bemused at how disintered the guard was in my backpack (well, that explains that Clive Owen film, then - grin). Up the lift and round and round and down and down until I came upon a host of Impressionists, and, unlike the Frick, some seriously good shit here. Whoever picked these knew their stuff. Man oh man. Everyone a classic, no filler. Adored them all. And, should Mr Caffrey ever think of it, there's a tiny van Gogh just behind a post, out of sight of the cameras, with a non existant response from the guards when the alarm went off when this guy in a coat got too close. I'm just saying, lift, swap, walk, easy. Er, not that the slightest thought ever crossed my mind, oh no.
The Frick. I had to stand in the rain, and I later discovered this is because the Frick had opened for free that day, which was a small win for me, except for the whole standing in the rain bit. The Frick was another reason I'd wanted to go to New York, because I wanted to see the two boys, the two Holbeins, because I felt their absence most keenly on my most excellent day out at Hampton Court (so yes, I was pretty much planning this trip from my first day in London last time, but the best laid plans...). So there was Thomas Cromwell, looking surely and displeased with everything, as you might expect, and looking nothing like Mr Frain. And there was Thomas Moore, looking very thoughtful. Oh, Tom, no, all that thinking will get you in trouble. But nevertheless, there he was, looking a bit like Mr Northam, maybe, just a bit.
The chinoiserie room I really liked, but most of the paintings, well, they seemed to be lesser works of great artists. Nothing really rocked my world, except one, the artist of which escapes. And I was bemused to learn that the King of Spain was....ginger. Lots of Turners and Constables. Lots of Ladies Who Lunch.
MoMA. This was actually quite a good day and I wandered about the Rockerfeller and environs before the gallery opened, and even found a clone of the El Alamein fountain lurking about the place. Got to MoMa at a good time, only a few folks before me, but, my god, they are insane. People actually ran and tripped up the stairs when the gallery finally opened properly. Sheesh, it's not like the art was going anywhere. Anyway, leaving aside the definition of 'modern' (as stuff from the 50s and 60s is arguably vintage now) I caught the lift to the top and worked my way down.
Ah, more Impressionists (and no fridge magnets, dammit, for shame) and these ones were top notch too. I was just glued to the still life with apples one and the van Gogh, well, I finally got it (and just in time for Doctor Who, how excellent, though then, trying to live spoiler free, I had no idea there was an episode in the works). So I adored that room. The others less so but I dutifully did the rounds until I came to the iconic soup cans, and was stopped in my tracks by the Lichtenstein. The Brad one. The one I'd had stuck to the cover of my journal (what we had before blogs, dear reader) when a melodramatic teen. Apparently I must have gone to a MoMA show that had come out here then, so the Peanut Gallery informs me, and yes, I vaguely remember it, I certainly knew I'd seen the Lichtenstein in person before. And so I sat and gazed, until the guard giving me the stink eye (what, not aloof enough for the MoMA?) made me move on. But it was oddly Proustian, seeing something from my yoof like that, all of a sudden. Not unlike finding an old album in a junk shop.
That was the highlight. The rest was kind of junk, literally, and as I passed the mouldering fifty year old installations, looking more and more like something from Steptoe and Son than pristine and shining modern art, I realised that article I'd read wasn't kidding when it said galleries like MoMa are having terrible trouble preserving installation emphemera.
Oh, we're out of the world cup and we have a new PM. Shrug.
So, onto San Francisco and the de Young museum. Which took me a while to find but I got there eventually, and there was no queue. No bloody queue! Here they are, all the cool stuff from the Musee d'Orsay that I thought we'd be seeing down in Canberra, you know, the exhibition that poor Australians queued for over fours in the baking 40c summer sun to see, but didn't see, because the blasted things are in San Francisco. Well, here was all the good stuff, lavished on the Yanks, as always, and no bloody queue! The cheek! The effrontery! I swear, there'd have been no one there at all if they'd not bussed in some OAPs to mull around the place and get in the way.
Huffing aside, it was brilliant. Here, at last, were the paintings I'd gone to Canberra to see. Swoon! All my favourites were here (several fridge magnets, oh yes) as well as several new favourites, and a darling one of Bazille that I couldn't tear myself away from. Also, from that pic of young Monet, he is so Rafe Spall it isn't funny. Casting agents, attend please.
Oh yes, I really loved this. This really was the treasures of the Musee d'Orsay. no trash here, and I went through three times before I had to exit through the gift shop. And I'd pick out several paintings I really liked but I'll have to flick through the catalogue because I'm just a blank on the artist/title tag right now. Let's just say I was in raptures but for the first and last rooms which I was only luke warm on.
And to think, that was a surprise, as I had no idea the exhibition was on until I did my usual thing of grabbing brochures and studying them in my hotel room over a cuppa and adjusting my plans if I see anything I really want to do, like that (poor old Asian museum got bumped but I figured I did the Seattle one, and, oh well, there's always next time).
So, finally, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Seattle Asian Art Museum. These were fun, because they were small, ecclectic, interesting and above all, I had a partner in crime to giggle and snigger at all the way round, which is always fun (even if we did get glared at).
I never got to see SAM the last time on account of an act of god, aka the quake of, whenever it was, so this was one of those 'at last, you bastard' moments that I have when I really do get another crack at things. And well worth it, too. And yes, there is another installation of those flying cars at the Biennale right now. The modern art, not so much, though they had some cracking pop art stuff and I liked the Warhol exhibition (Dennis Hopper was still alive when I said he was creeping me out with the staring in one of the films that was running. The Cobain exhibition was dire, like Year 9 art project bad. Avoid.
The rest? J' Adore. Really, just loved. Just enough to intrigue without exhausting, titillate without tiring. I loved the Sargent, the room of crockery, the ancient bits and bobs (Collect all the Gladiator action figures, Coliseum sold seperately), the cranky saint with the lizard, which still cracks me up. Was creeped out by the African masks (and I was still on creep overload after the Natural History Museum) and confused by some of the latest installations.
The Asian art museum I also adored, as I mentioned before. The building was a gem, and there was an exhinition of prints, which for once wasn't scenes from the Genji over and over and over again (yes, AGNSW, I am looking at you) and actually had a couple of very naughty prints and a whole room of prints of actors, made for fans, from the 18thC, which puts a lie to this whole 'celebrity is a recent invention' argument (see also collectable gladiator figurines). Lotsa jade, lotsa pots, a nice room of buddhas. Real nice little museum. And cute how the New York museums look to Europe and the west coast ones look to Asia. Makes sense, but, well, cute.
I think that was it (not counting museums which will be another post). It all starts to blur after a while, but mission accomplished, with a lot more works, especially by favourite artists, duly viewed, admired and ticked off. And, in a few very lucky cases, I bought the fridge magnet - grin. Oh, you should see our fridge, a world class gallery, in minature. Okay, yes, quaint, but I like it, and it's fun collecting (frustrating though, as favourite works are so rarely magnetised, as were, and the Impressionists are unfairly over represented, but a gal works with what she can get her grubby hands on).
Oh, I forget to mention how weird it was at times, especially in the modern squiggly wings, to see art but have no Australasian narrative included, like no Australian or New Zealand artists at all. And you know what, even though I don't often highly regard them, they were missed.
But alas, I still don't know much about art, but at least now I know what I like, and most asuredly, what I do not.