Part 2: New York, New York

In addition to “Death Becomes Her”, I was keen to see “Matisse Cut Outs” at the MOMA. I had read a little about the exhibition in the Chicago Tribune. There was some talk of recreating some rooms that he had made using his cut out technique. That was particularly exciting for me. I always like seeing these larger creations.

I was also pleased with this exhibition. I learned that Matisse began using this technique in the last decade of his life. He’d use a variety of scissors to create various shapes from paper. He began with smaller compositions but later graduated to stained glass windows, large wall installations, and even a dining room. I think I like his cut outs more than his actual paintings. I love his use of colors and form. There were some lovely tableaus of the sea and the sky; the background color was beige and all shapes were all white. I don’t usually like beige but this worked for me. Also, I thought it kinda looked like a bird’s eye view of both the ocean and the sky. Looking straight down, you saw birds flying with the fish.
This era also coincided with one of my favorite works ever. Matisse designed a Chapel of the Rosary in Vence, France. It’s this beautiful white walled chapel with bright blue, green, and yellow stained glass windows. It’s pitch perfect. The exhibition had some earlier mockups for the stained glass before he settled on the amazing floral yellow, blue and green windows. There was also a mock up of stained glass window for Christmas (I think) and the actual completed stained glass statue. I was in heaven.
There was also a room of his blue cut outs. It showed a series of studies of a nude in blue that he had taken weeks to complete. Apparently, he drove one of his assistants crazy working on these so methodically. The result was pretty neat. There was also this incredible cut out of a woman with an amphora on her head.
But the piece de la resistance was the dining room called “The Swimming Pool.” One day Matisse demanded to see divers so they drove out to his favorite pool in Cannes. Apparently, the sun was too much so they returned. Upon arrival, he decided to make his own pool. He asked the Hotel to ring the dining room with white paper. He then made his own divers and animals out of blue and white paper. It was recently restored and put up in the exhibition. It’s remarkable. I love how one side of it has this wonderful gradation. The blue is used for the swimmer’s bodies and gradually the blue becomes the negative space and the white becomes the bodies.  There were some other amazing pieces covering giant walls. They were invariably colorful scenes usually depicting Matisse’s stylized plants. Absolutely stunning.
The rest of the MOMA was fantastic as always. I enjoyed wandering the early 20th century galleries to check out old friends. I saw “The Three Musicians” by Picasso; it’s one of my top favorite pantings. I’m not even a huge fan of Picasso; I sometimes feel inundated with his work. But this work is his masterpiece. Somehow he aptly captured the mood and visual cues of jazz. And then there is the room of the Brancusi sculptures. Five different sculptures made from different materials soar into space. Each a masterpiece in their own right but all five together makes it sublime.
They also moved some art around since we were last here in May. They brought out some lovely Klimts, which was neat. One is a tragic painting of a pregnant woman holding a skull to her body. I learned that images of pregnant women are rare in Western art history. This painting speaks of some tragedy. There was also a painting of Adele Bloch Bauer. It’s not the famous one; it’s a different one of the same person. This painting had also been stolen by the Nazis and had to be won back by the descendants. Eventually it got sold to the MOMA. Hmm.
Again, it was a good day at the MOMA.
That’s all for now!
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