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Art Or iPod

Okeeffe_lake_george_window_1929_t1Since I decided to abuse my press credentials to get into MOMA without paying their $4 million ticket price, I feel honor bound to write something about the visit. Unfortunately, I don't really have much insight to add. I will note, however, that when I saw Georgia O'Keefe's Lake George Window from the escalator, I thought to myself "weird -- a painting of an iPod." Upon further reflection, that's not what that is. Beyond that, probably my favorite painting of whose existence I was previously unaware is Gino Severini's Visual Synthesis of the Idea: "War" of which, sadly, I can find no image online. Beyond that, I thought it was interesting that the curators made no effort to in any way set the super-famous works like Picasso's Desmoiselles D'Avignon, Jasper Johns' Flag, and Roy Lichtenstein's Drowning Girl off from the sort of paintings that your random museum-goer on the street (say, me) wouldn't recognize. Today, at least, there was also a surprisingly high ratio of urban sophisticates to hayseed tourists in the audience, at least judging by attire. I don't know if the high price of admission, the cold weather, or merely the relative newness of the re-opened MOMA accounts for that. Either way, it's a good thing. I remember being extremely annoyed when I went to the Centre Pompidou in Paris only to find it filled with people who obviously had zero interest in modern art and just wandered around muttering about how bizarre it all was and how their seven year-old son could do stuff just as good.

January 28, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

I remember being extremely annoyed when I went to the Centre Pompidou in Paris only to find it filled with people who obviously had zero interest in modern art and just wandered around muttering about how bizarre it all was and how their seven year-old son could do stuff just as good.

Weird. When I went there I remember primarily being annoyed by the nattily-atired urban hipsters trying to pretend, for the benefit of their beautiful euro-girlfriends, that they really, truly appreciated the pretentious, theory-heavy nonsense that constitutes about 50% of the Pompidou's collection.

Posted by: Realish | Jan 28, 2005 4:03:07 PM

To clarify, Matt, I'm not accusing you of being one of said hipsters. I have no idea how you attire yourself. Or whether you have a beautiful euro-girlfriend.

Posted by: Realish | Jan 28, 2005 4:04:57 PM

Well, at the time I had a pretty beautiful americo-girlfriend. Nowadays, not so much...

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias | Jan 28, 2005 4:06:34 PM

Weird. When I went there I remember primarily being annoyed by the nattily-atired urban hipsters trying to pretend, for the benefit of their beautiful euro-girlfriends, that they really, truly appreciated the pretentious, theory-heavy nonsense that constitutes about 50% of the Pompidou's collection.

Funny, when I went there I remember seeing a really cool Beckmann exhibit, and don't remember squat about who was around me.

The other thing about art: maybe it's not that you know what you like, but that you like what you know.

Posted by: ScrewyRabbit | Jan 28, 2005 4:17:16 PM

I have no idea how you attire yourself.

Can't you tell from the picture? Oh, right, it's fuzzy. Well, don't you remember the OLD picture? I'm pretty sure that wasn't "urban hipster" he was wearing. :-)

Posted by: Al | Jan 28, 2005 4:18:21 PM

"I will note, however, that when I saw Georgia O'Keefe's Lake George Window from the escalator, I thought to myself "weird -- a painting of an iPod."

Pretty funny.

"I remember being extremely annoyed when I went to the Centre Pompidou in Paris only to find it filled with people who obviously had zero interest in modern art..."

Were you in Paris during the summer? Museums in any city are far worse environments when the kids are out of school.

Posted by: Petey | Jan 28, 2005 4:32:54 PM

Is this the Gino Severini painting you were referring to?

http://www.art-ww1.com/fr/texte/016text.html
http://www.art-ww1.com/trame/016text.html

Posted by: Jason | Jan 28, 2005 4:39:01 PM

I have some very modest artistic chops and was visiting museums recently with my niece, who is the real article. We overheard someone saying the usual "my seven-year-old" things in front of a Mondrian NYC-subway-map painting. I told my niece "It's true that anyone could DUPLICATE this, unlike the Mona Lisa, but how many could CREATE it?" (Try doing a grid of different colored straight lines without copying. There's likely to be something "off" about yours that you'll notice even if you can't articulate it.) My niece said she thought I was on to something, but she's also old enough to know how to humor her uncle, so who knows?

Posted by: C.J.Colucci | Jan 28, 2005 5:06:05 PM

Oh sweetie however you attire yourself now I'm sure you need a makeover. They are so dowdy at TAP. Policy wonks have absolutely zilch fashion sense! And forget the girlfriend, whether euro, americo, sino, or australiopithecus.

Posted by: Queer Eye for the Straight Y | Jan 28, 2005 5:07:49 PM

When I was at the Pompidou it was a total epicenter of hot arty chicks. There was a pretty good Miro retrospective too... good visual stimulation all around!

Posted by: RC | Jan 28, 2005 5:20:30 PM

should people who don't have an art education and make inappropriate comments be banned from museums? They are so annoying. Hey, it's for they own good, they look like hicks, they're better off watching Cats anyway. Let's keep art for us snotty ones.

Thanks for Colucci for having a better response to that situation.

Posted by: cedichou | Jan 28, 2005 5:30:00 PM

Re the new MoMA, I think the critical entry-level aesthetic question concerns Matisse's Dance, hung over the stairs as it is. A non-aesthetic criticism that's been floating around is that the MoMA can't secure the works against the massive crowds: One Anne Truitt sculpture has already been damaged.

Posted by: Kriston | Jan 28, 2005 5:52:22 PM

Heh. I dragged my "Euro-girlfriend" to the Pompidou. She always thought it was an offensively ugly building.

The art inside is a mixed bag. I'm quite fond of the early work--Picasso, Miro, and even Duchamp--but after that, a lot of the art seems rather stale and minor. It picks up again towards the end, largely thanks to the industrial design.

It's not that I dislike modern art, it's just that I'm not impressed by it. You can convince me that Mondrian is an interesting minor painter, for example, but his immitators are merely jokes. There's only so much you can do with a dozen squares of color before you descend into tedious self-parody.

Modern art, much like Derrida and string theory, appears to be a little too fond of obscurantism.

Posted by: E | Jan 28, 2005 5:58:10 PM

Ban me from modern art museums?! Please, no, anything but that! I love my trip every half decade or so off to a museum of modern art to snicker at the off-white canvases, blocks of wood, 79 identical clocks on the wall, monotonous yet pretentious films, pretentious yet inane political screeds, and on and on. Practically every corner I turn, there’s yet another wonder that just about takes my breath away. Why, it’s been something like 15 years, and I still have the fondest memories of a heap of styrofoam telephones lying on the floor at the Whitney.

Posted by: ostap | Jan 28, 2005 5:59:20 PM

Should people who don't have an art education and make inappropriate comments be banned from museums?

No, there should be a system wherein people have to start with the basics and work their way up. If I had visited Pompidou cold turkey, I would have been among the mumblers. But working through the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay first, I found it fascinating.

Posted by: Sven | Jan 28, 2005 6:03:33 PM

The last time I was at the Pompidou Center, one exhibit was a room full of trash on the floor. My children - one of who was seven at the time - did in fact think they could do as well, and I may even have agreed with them.

On the other hand, Matt has yet another Dick Cheney-moment, where he embarrasses the Hell out of himself by writing about "hayseed tourists" and "attire".

Posted by: Urban Sophisticate | Jan 28, 2005 6:14:10 PM

It's a good thing for people without an art education to go to museums. What isn't good, however, is the closed minded attitude some people have where they will dismiss something out of hand before even making an effort to understand it. If you're going to go in with that attitude, why bother?

On the other hand, there is a lot of crappy contemporary art out there. But was true in every other era as well. Only it doesn't seem that way because the bad, derivative , or novelty-driven art of previous eras has been forgotten.


Posted by: RC | Jan 28, 2005 6:16:31 PM

I'm betting the hayseeds are the high point of the modern urbane aesthete's excursion to a museum; just as the more transparently lame objets make the hayseeds day. Ah! The beautiful symmetry of Life!

Posted by: Michael7843853 | Jan 28, 2005 7:04:39 PM

I like the "i-pod", but what would it have cost you if you had not been priviledged?

thelrd in TEXAS

Posted by: Larry Davis | Jan 28, 2005 7:29:56 PM

"No one questions the fact that verbal language has to be learned, but the commonplaceness of visual experience betrays art; people tend to assume that, because they can see, they can see art." —Anne Truitt

Posted by: Kriston | Jan 28, 2005 7:53:17 PM

I'm sorry, dear -- you were saying that the poor shouldn't be allowed in museums?"

Lawrence Jaimeson, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Posted by: Joe Drymala | Jan 28, 2005 8:08:34 PM

I went on opening night when admission was free (but the line out the door stretched three rows deep on 44th Street or wherever). I highly recommend it.

Posted by: phil | Jan 28, 2005 10:20:14 PM

Can't you tell from the picture? Oh, right, it's fuzzy. Well, don't you remember the OLD picture? I'm pretty sure that wasn't "urban hipster" he was wearing. :-)

You're too unkind to our dear MY. My own hipster image only came of age midway in my college career, and we have no reason to believe that Matt's own coming-of-age coolness occured sometime after his old picture.

Given your posts, Al, I'm pretty sure you're 46,000 years old. If you're under 30 there's something seriously wrong with you, and you have no hope of ever becoming something more than the pathetic cranky weird guy living down the street that you hope won't talk to your children.

Posted by: ScrewyRabbit | Jan 29, 2005 1:12:41 AM

Got 14 Severini's on me hard drive, including one called "unknown". Love that futurismo.

There is a pay site dedicated to futurism and the Italians. Show your press card and plug the dude & maybe he will give a free CD.

Futurism

Looking thru Severini, my "unknown" was "armoured train". I ain't got "War". He does.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jan 29, 2005 2:20:07 AM

"When I went there I remember primarily being annoyed by the nattily-atired urban hipsters trying to pretend, for the benefit of their beautiful euro-girlfriends, that they really, truly appreciated the pretentious, theory-heavy nonsense that constitutes about 50% of the Pompidou's collection."

Matt, what an elitest you are. The way I came to love art was to go over and over as a yahoo, until one day I walked into the Rembrandt room at the Met, and the paintings took my breath away. It was transformative, I can tell you. But the earlier visits, as a yahoo, annoying folks like you, had to happen first. I really doubt that I was nattily-attired, so perhaps I could have escaped your notice.

Posted by: janeboatler | Jan 29, 2005 12:53:30 PM

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