The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) is and was overwhelming, so it required an advanced tactical maneuver (I was trained over twenty years ago during visits to Disneyland with kids). I had been here a few times before so I was prepared for the onslaught. I spent the better part of the day at the museum, from first arrival at 10:30 opening to a German film at 4pm, honoring this high Temple of Art.
As recommended by the museum to visitors, I duly focussed on two exhibitions only. One was the special exhibition entitled “The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World”. Pretty vague title, but it basically tackled how artists are pretty eclectic, borrow from various sources such as the Internet and art history, and make art. In the photo below, you can see a pretty amusing pile of canvasses on the floor. The artist invites viewers to touch it and interact with it in ways you aren’t allowed to when it is displayed on the wall. A visitor got pretty creative with it, using the canvasses as a blanket!
Below is a painting I like by a black artist, Rashid Johnson. He painted a canvas entirely in black, showing his moods as he made strokes on the canvas. The black color also depicted the historical moment in Berlin when Europe decided to colonize Africa.
The second exhibition and tour at the Design and Architecture Gallery was exhaustive and addressed “Uneven Urbanization” in four major cities: Hong Kong, New York, Istanbul and Rio. Mega cities are defined by having a population over 8 million. HK and NYC are considered one of the smaller cities in the spectrum of mega cities. The exhibit was put together by various consultants who tried to come up with small-scale solutions that people could do themselves. Building urban gardens and small cafes are examples to reduce alienation. Obviously this was a very tall order to try solving, but the exhibition was very thought-provoking. The tour guide, who teaches city planning, was very informative and packed a lot into a one-hour tour.
To recover from the heavy morning’s brain dump, I decided to lunch at the Modern, a Michelin-star rated restaurant at the MOMA. You can see the white glove service in the pictures and the menu below.
1. Main Course: Branzino steamed in spinach with trumpet mushrooms and orange zest
2. Starter: Grilled Fois Gras with quince
3. Starter: lobster and turnip
Starters were prefaced by an acorn squash soup with roasted almonds and sabayon. I chose a nice glass of French Chablis to complement my selections, after the wine steward failed to convince me to try a California Chardonnay or a NZ Riesling!
The finale at the MOMA was punctuated by a film “Left-Handed Woman” by Wim Wenders, a well-known German director (he did Wings of Desire and Paris, Texas). The most amazing part is that HE was actually at the film showing as part of a retrospective on his work and HE presented the film! This is what NYC gets that little specs like SF don’t. Thus my title for today’s posting.
Here’s a fuzzy picture of THE man on the left in front of the podium…
If this weren’t enough, I dashed over to Bouchon at the Time-Warner Center for a quick dinner of warm olives, broccolini and salmon terrine (all appetizers), then hiked my way over to Lincoln Center for my first opera evening. Despite already seeing a half-dozen opera movies filmed from here this past season, I still felt excited to be at the MET in the skinny, particularly at a sold-out performance of Carmen.
Sadly, however, Jonas Kaufmann, my favorite performer who was scheduled to sing, was sick tonite. He was replaced by Yonghoon Lee, who did a pretty decent job as his understudy. Fortunately, I’ll have another chance to see Jonas, a German version (with a real operatic voice) of Andrea Bocelli in August.
The opera only had limited seating in the rafters (dead top of the stadium, last row). It wasn’t the best experience, but I was able to witness a signature performance at the MET. Below are a couple of shots of the dated lobby interior and the opera house. The chandeliers inside the opera hall move up to the ceiling automatically when the lights dim so they are out of the way–well appreciated for the bleacher seats where I was located.
1. Lobby of the Metopera
2. Stage from very tippy top (opera glasses are useless from up here– you need a telescope)
3. Curtain Call with Elina Garanca (Carmen) and Yonghoon Lee (Don Jose)
Up Next: Serafina and the Audience
You can find more MOMA news on their awesome website at moma.org. When you visit MOMA, you can track your path and send emails of items you like to study further to yourself! The site also allows you to search and copy images of many items in the MOMA collection architectural models. Ordering tickets online in advance is also a timesaver.
You can book Bouchon (the inexpensive cafe related to Thomas Keller from French Laundry) and the Modern (very expensive) on opentable.com.