Night on the Town

No, you won’t read about any hot club dancing or participative performance art pieces in Soho.  But after a week of intense study, that promises not to let up until mid-May, what I did do tonight was pretty thrilling.

Many of the museums are open late on weekend nights, and the Morgan Library is no exception.  The place was hopping.  I mean, it was noisy…in the Morgan!  The Surrealism Drawings exhibit was pretty packed, too.

All your favorite surrealists were there, inspired by Andre Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto.  Sure, there are dreamscapes and automatisms (automatic writing/drawing).  Yes, there are weird, sexual collages and the requisite Exquisite Corpse drawings.

You know, I used to be a surrealist, too.  I was a regular collagist.  And a great warm-up exercise my writers’ groups frequently used was the Exquisite Corpse.  The results are a hoot!  I feel inspired to do those, even as a solo experiment.


The art historian in me was fascinated by an exhibit that connected Picasso to Pollock, arguably the two most important artists of the 20th century.  Picasso wasn’t much of a surrealist, and dare I say, Pollock wasn’t much of an artist when he dabbled in it.  But surrealism served as a binder for many unrelated artists and movements, like the beautiful drawing above by Francis Picabia, another unlikely surrealist, of Olga from 1930.

My favorite discovery was the decalcomania, a process of applying wet media like ink or gouache to paper, folding it, and voilà, you have your very own Rorschach test.  The process was reinvigorated by the Spanish artist Oscar Dominguez, and his works, plus those of Georges Hugnet and Yves Tanguy, were luscious and lyrical, very organic.  Some looked like hyper realistic photos of underwater forms, like corral, or fantastical castles.  Really beautiful.

And then there’s the laughter factor  My winner would have to be Rene Magritte, who separated language from the object in a hilarious drawing.  You know, the elegant egg he mislabeled L’acacia and a hammer as Le désert.

Here’s a sample weird dream-moment:

Federico Castellon, Her Eyes Trembled

From the Morgan, I went to the Hunter College gallery for the opening of the Sandy Wurmfeld retrospective curated by two of my favorite student-colleagues.  The installation is beautiful, and the show just goes on and on.  It’s huge, as are the works.

The model of this color-room was there, as a pitch to get it built again in New York.  This next image will give you a sense of how Sandy works with color.


Sanford Wumfeld, Color Visions, 1966 – 2013

Glorious, isn’t it?  Imagine if filling a whole wall.  And the room with the color-maze of translucent, plexiglass panels was worth the trip alone.  I hope you can get there.

I left feeling so energized.  Seeing the stunning work my colleagues had done and being in a crowd of people was so uplifting after a week with my head glued to the computer.  I felt just like the armless guy in the subway who banged away on his overturned plastic-drums with utter joy.  That’s what a night on the town can do!