Aaron, Roswitha, and Otto came to NYC, and, after an aborted attempt to visit the United Nations (closed for some undisclosed reason), we all went to visit the MOMA for the first time since its splashy re-opening. We visited on a Saturday afternoon, and as expected, a long line awaited. Individual tickets cost $20 each, and an individual membership, which allows you to purchase guest passes for $5 a person, costs $75. Purchasing a membership was a no-brainer, especially as I'm sure many more out-of-town visitors will want to see the new MOMA.
I wonder if Otto, who I barely recognized he'd grown up so much in the six months since I'd seen him last, looked around at some of the Miro or Pollock paintings and thought, "I'll be painting something like that in about two years with finger paints." With his long locks, a few strangers confused him for a girl, he has the look of a budding young artiste.
MOMA has perhaps the most impressive collection of modern art in the world, at least that I've seen. So many works you'd study in any introductory art history class are on display here, and MOMA has hundreds of other works still in storage, waiting to be hung. Another great thing about MOMA is that visitors are allowed to take photographs as long as they don't use flash.
One of my favorite activities in modern art museums is guessing the titles of works, or telling friends the titles of three works and having them guess which is which. The level of abstraction in modern art can turn it into a guessing game.
Too many interesting works to recount, but one that particularly struck me was a video piece depicting the buildup to the scene depicted in Velasquez's famous painting "Las Meninas," or "The Maids of Honor," which I saw at the Prado several years ago. The video piece was silent, as far as I could tell, and it was haunting. I was reminded of paintings that would come to life at the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.
Another arresting piece was a series of three videos, shown side by side, of views of and from Yoshio Taniguchi's other museums, all of which are in Japan. One of the beautiful things about Taniguchi's museums, and the new MOMA is no exception, is that they afford unique views of the environment around the museum. In the case of MOMA, windows on all floors allow visitors a great perspective on the density and diversity of buildings and architecture surrounding the museum.
We stayed until closing time, until a security guard ushered Aaron and I out of the video room. Though all the pieces can be seen in an afternoon, I'll have to return sometime to soak more of it in. The greatest drawback to the MOMA right now is its popularity, and the dense crowds stand in sharp contrast to the wide open spaces of the museum and the amount of white space granted each piece. Imagine visiting the museum alone, being the only person strolling through every room. Its the great paradox at the heart of NYC, that the great art and culture that the city's population attracts is also overrun by that same population.
Aaron and Roswitha are extremely knowledgeable about and appreciative of modern art, and art in general, so it was a special treat to visit the new MOMA with them.