Beauty and Play

What a day.  Five museums!  Well, at the Frick, I went just for one painting, the Piero della Francesca that’s visiting America.  And of course, I had to go stand in the midst of the Progress of Love.  Fragonard can brighten any winter’s day.

Then, there’s the Blues exhibit at the Whitney.  Like so many of their exhibits, I like some and don’t get most of what’s on view.  I do think the curatorial concept was strong enough to warrant a visit, but I wasn’t too excited by it.

That changed with my visit to the Met.  Once again, the Met Museum has hit it out of the park with Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity.  The show is just the embodiment of pure beauty.

My favorite, most intriguing Mary Cassatt is there.  It’s all about the power of looking, and this show is all about that power.

The show marries some greatest hits (and less well known, but equally satisfying paintings) with dresses and fans and hats and parasols and shoes and corsets and fashion plates and photos and more.

I will say that the presence of the dresses and accessories made the the paintings more interesting.  I found the paintings had more life than I would normally experience, especially with the old war horses.

Manet, Lady with Fan, 1862


And a lesser known Manet, Lady with a Fan, was all the stranger for being near a dress and fan display.





Look at the workmanship in this parasol.  Sigh.





I love the actual pairings.  The artist who kept the dress his wife wore in his portrait of her.

And the teensy shoes that Eva Gonzales memorialized in her paintings of them.

ShoesShoes Eva Gonzales









I was so enchanted with the exhibit, I bought a pair of crochet gloves, which every society lady needs.  I’m now ready for the Season!

But the fun wasn’t over.  I next went to the Guggenheim to see the Gutai exhibit there.  I had already been listening to talks on their excellent free app, so was prepared for the show’s serious focus on materials and process.  But what caught my heart was the sense of play.  The exhibit is called The Splendid Playground, and it is.

The Guggenheim interior can be a challenge to work with and not all installations look equally good.  But this show really works in the cylindrical, cubby-hole-driven space.   Gutai, Motonaga Sadamasa 3


Look at how the Motonaga Sadamasa has been installed in the huge interior.  The audio called the work like “brushstrokes in the voidGutai, Motonaga Sadamasa 2.”





That really describes the 25 to 60 foot long vinyl tubes that shoot across the open space, weighed down with india ink-colored water.  The play with the architecture is so wonderful, don’t you think?

This work really looks great there, too.

Gutai Installation









Another favorite: the Electric Dress by Tanaka Atsuko–it’s worth the wait to see it light up.

Electric Dress lit, Tanaka Atsuko, 1956Electric Dress, Tanaka Atsuko, 1956








Gutai Card BoxAnd if you can go on a Tuesday or a Friday, you can do the Card Box.  So fun!  It’s a vending machine, with a person inside.  Yep.

You buy a token for $1 from the “performance artist” standing there, insert the token into the vending machine, hit the white button which squawks, and then the person inside selects a work of art to spit out, just for you.  Here’s mine, by MTAA.

Gutai Card Box art MTAA




The long list of participating artists is posted there.  The proceeds go to help orphans from Japan’s tsunami.




Stop in at the Jewish Museum for a meditative experience with life-sized videos of women dancers moving in space very much like the one you’re in.  Quite nice.

All in all, get thee to a museum.  The fruit is very ripe!