One of us Huffingtons recently landed at LaGuardia with a friend and couple of teenage daughters in tow. The teenagers, sweet girls anyway, were delighted with our proposition of mixing rocking retail therapy with art eye-candy for the adults.
First Stop: The Whitney Biennial 2010 (http://www.whitney.org/), which is the 75th edition of the museum’s signature exhibit. It’s a breath-taking compilation of modern and production art by contemporary American artists and runs the gamut from a 1950s white hearse with a black and white film flickering on its cracked windscreen to one of our favorite pieces by Jennifer Jackson Hutchins: a childhood sofa repurposed as art and covered entirely by newspaper articles about Barak Obama.
Maureen Gallace, Cape Cod, Early September, 12 x 12, oil on panel
Next, on to the Metropolitan Shrine . How does one describe this mecca of beauty? Even its stately presence on upper Fifth Avenue is powerful. We stood on the steps, in the sunlight, just drinking in the sheer physical aura of this place before dashing in to admire the lobby’s frothy and enormous cherry blossoms (brought in twice a week from New Jersey, we found out)
We zipped through Ancient Greeks and Romans (stopping to oogle the jewelry which feels fresh and chic even today, 2,500 years later.) Then, up the stairs to the ultimate altar of art: the Impressionists. Call me old-fashioned but Monet’s light-filled rendition of the Houses of Parliament brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. The funny thing about the Met is that after a while, the sensory overload begins to dull the senses so after a while, you find yourself thinking, oh is that a Degas dancer? Nice. Oh, and a Van Gogh still life? Hmmmm, let's move on to that Manet over there. It's a rather decadent feeling.
It doesn't get anymore beautiful and inspiring for me than this, The Houses of Parliament, Effect of Fog by Claude Monet.
My cute girlfriend wanted to see her favorite painting, Madame X by John Singer Sargent and we were perplexed when we couldn’t locate it. “It’s not where it normally is!” wailed my friend. (I thought, hmmm, even the Met rotates paintings just like us Huffingtons.) The lovely and polite docent kindly directed us down to Visible Storage, which, if you haven’t been, is a treasure trove.It’s a cavernous space filled with acres of glass display cases, full of Mary Cassats here, John Singer Sargent there…oh, and yes, here’s Madame X, sans frame. There were miles of gilded, ornate and carved frames. And we didn’t even get to the decorative arts cases.
Back up to modern art, where we feasted our eyes on a Mark Rothko (one of my all-time fave artists.)
...but felt a little insecure about Damien Hirst’s preserved and odd shark. We weren't sure if we got it.
Damien Hirst's The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1992.
And, sadly, by this time, it was time to put into action the Short-but-Sweet museum theory, which always works perfectly for the younger ones in the group. The key is make it fun and lively…then leave just when everyone is ready for more. Believe me, this strategy works everytime…our cute teens are already begging for their next trip to museum land.
As we skidded down Fifth in our cab, I reflected for a minute about the immeasurable power of art in all its forms to document beauty, translate social and cultural ideas and to inspire, empower and provoke its viewers to a higher level. It was a special moment that made think about how much I love what I do and how lucky I am do have our little haven of art and beauty.
Then, it was on to Balthazar for lunch (a transporting experience and the closest thing to Paris this side of the pond) and our pretend NYC life kept zipping along at ninety miles an hour…
The fun and lively scene at Balthazar
Au revoir, New York! Until we meet again..hopefully sooner rather than later.