Now that I’ve finished talking about our trip to France and England, I’m going to spend the next couple of weeks talking about my recent trip to NYC for Easter. NYC is one of those thrilling places that I love to visit. I’m glad I live in Chicago but NYC is always fun.
Our first day there, we decided to go to the Frick Museum. Since it was a relatively nice and sunny day, we walked from our hotel to the museum next to CEntral Park on 5th avenue. Spring was already making its mark in NYC. We think that Chicago might be two weeks behind NYC. The magnolia trees were wearing their full glory while tiny daffodils were popping from the soil. We passed the petting zoo so we saw all the goats sheep and the one llama.
The Frick was wonderful as always. For those of you unfamiliar with it, the house and collection were Henry Clay Frick, an American industrialist and art patron. The collection houses several Vermeers, Hans Holbein, and much more. The paintings are displayed throughout the house, mostly how Mr. Frick had it in his lifetime. So you have the wonderful combination of astonishing art with beautiful furnishing. I did learn that one of the most iconic rooms, the Garden Court, was actually an addition after his death. Mr. Frick had always planned for the house to become a museum and stipulated it in his will. The area that the court is located was actually a road that connected 71st and 72nd street. When he died, they converted the coach house and other buildings to make space for visitors. The Garden Court is truly a gem in the building. I think Mr. Frick would have approved of it.
There was a Van Dyck exhibition going on, which was interesting. Initially, we thought it was just the exhibit in the basement where we saw lots of his drawings. I find drawings moderately interesting. Later, we discovered there was a wonderful room filled with his paintings, which was superb. They did have a few drawings there so you can compare the drawing with the final painting.
My favorite room is the Living Hall with its deep brown and green tones. Framing the fireplace is Holbein’s painting of Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell on the other side. Above the fireplace, there is El Greco’s St. Jerome. Other works include Chinese ceramics and wooden furniture. It’s really a masterful room.
After our time at the museum, we decided to find some lunch at EAT on Madison. It’s a bakery/restaurant. We shared a chopped liver sandwich that was really quite good. For dessert, we had a really wonderful warm pecan pie.
We were only a few blocks away from the Met Breuer, which had opened a week previously. The Met decided to buy the building where the Whitney used to be housed and apparently will use it as a contemporary exhibition space. The building is a classic example of the awful Brutalist style that was popular several decades ago. Ugh.
The major exhibition, however, was rather fascinating. THe theme was “unfinished” works of art. It started with the middle ages and Renaissance. Very neat to see paintings where only a part of it was painted while the rest are drawing lines. There was a particularly haunting painting of a beautifully dressed woman without a face. They also had this Van Gogh painting that took me a moment to figure out how it was unfinished (how do you tell?). The sky was only a few blue brush strokes with the canvas peaking through. The painting was one of the last he did at the end of his life. Presumably, he would have finished if he hadn’t committed suicide.
The second floor of the exhibition was a more contemporary and creative look at the theme. There were rooms dedicated to ideas similar to “Unfinished” like infinity or decay. It was moderately successful. I did scoff at a Pollock (how do you know it’s done?) but it made sense that there was a Pollock in an exhibition like this. I think this part of the exhibition was less successful than the first floor. They had a one woman show of Nasreen Mohamedi, an abstract artist. It was moderately interesting. I liked one or two of her early work but the rest didn’t do it for me. Alas.
The next stop was Soho/Bowery. There’s an artisanal market that I like going to in the Village called “Market NYC” but it’s only Friday through Sunday. Since it was Thursday, there was an alternative space in Soho that we went to check out. It’s a lot smaller but there were interesting artisans vending their crafts. Leather bags with eyes, animal head rings, mustache and beard wax. It was fun. We then took a lovely stroll through the area. I loved all the street art. We found a hole in the wall place that had bite sized cupcakes for a $1. I tried the cotton candy cupcake (less than two bites) that was quite lovely! Eventually, we ended up in Union Square for sushi, which was lovely.
It was a fine way to end our first day!