Discovering some favorites of the MOMA…again?

Curiosity.  A quality that plays a major role in my optimism; my openness to the world; my determination to learn about people and places and history.  Curiosity has lead me down paths I would have never expected to travel on. Being the curious gal I am in a city with an incredible amount of wonders is beyond exciting.  And being in a world where a lot of us are consumed in all things virtual, I crave the authentic.  Manhattan is home to countless museums, libraries, institutions,  that for all we know,  could hold the big secret to life... (I mean, you never know).  What I do know is that there is an abundance of history and knowledge and culture just waiting to be discovered and endured by open minded people like me- something some (often times most) of us New Yorkers take for granted. I mean, within a 2 mile radius, we are lucky enough to have extremely important aspects of the past, present, and future of our phenomenal planet hidden in long corridors, in huge open halls, in tight library shelves, scattered around the city in a way that should encourage the inner explorer in all of us.

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."- Marcel Proust

Well today, the inner explorer in me discovered the MOMA... for, let me think, perhaps the tenth time?  See, I believe discovery doesn't just happen once but continues to happen throughout your lifetime. Let's face it, when we experience something, whether it be an outing with friends, or in this case a trip to a museum, there is always something more that can be discovered based on the decisions we make and the time we put into seizing the moment fully.  Well, this was my first time at the MOMA that I felt as though I actually absorbed it with a full presence and open mind.  Perhaps something to do with my recent hype for the arts, perhaps the fact that I rode solo with nothing but an eager mentality and a pen and notebook in hand, but most likely due to the Mozart I had playing through my headphones (haha, just kidding).  But no seriously, the Mozart did help.

Anyways, I learned an incredible amount today about the history of art and the influential power it has and will continue to have on the nation, let alone the world.  I found a new point of view by simply paying more attention to detail, by actually taking the time to read all the museum plaques, but most of all by observing every detail, color, and overall energy of each one of the pieces in the permanent collection.  I also learned a great deal about myself, as an intellectual and an artist.  I let time recede from my thoughts and became one with the creative environment- and that, my friends, is how you enter a realm of artistic wonder.

"The arts are a humanizing force and their major function is to vitalize living" -Victor D'Amico

I'm going to share some of my favorites from the permanent collection and give you a little insight into why I've chosen them.  These are the pieces that spoke to me, that evoked a sense of wonder and excitement; whether it was the context of the piece, or how the subject was portrayed. So follow along and be inspired to take a museum day; trust me, these pieces are way better in person!

  1. The Red Studio Henri Matisse

For some reason, I don't remember ever truly taking the time to appreciate this piece in the past, and to be honest, it felt as though it was my first time seeing it.  Life changes, perspectives change, and for some reason the moment I saw this piece I was captivated beyond belief.  If you've checked out my first blog post: Intro to Zoe: the artist, you'd be quick to find out that Matisse has and always will hit close to my heart.  This one, however, has completely  fulfilled my visual and spiritual senses.  I think its my connection to the environment portrayed within the painting itself. I am an artist and a studio serves as a haven for me-- a place where the creative mind is free to explore.

I feel so invited into this space by the warmth of the red.  The mere outlines (by looking closely created by a reverse figure-ground relationship) of the furniture create an emphasis on the other more sentimental objects of the room. The way Matisse places these unique objects in this piece is extremely appealing to the eye-- starting at the bottom left and climbing in a clockwise motion around the piece.  By leaving areas for the eyes to rest, and shedding color upon the objects close to his heart, Matisse really highlights what is important to him.

The immense size of this piece also really adds to the experience-- a true treasure up close.

2.  House By the Railroad  Edward Hopper

There is something so beautifully quaint about this piece. I see such character and emotion and poise in a structure that would otherwise be seen as inanimate.  Hopper did an amazing job of capturing this moment with his eyes and rendering it with his heart.  I could feel a particular sadness with a peculiar presence of hope.

The lighting and contrast of this piece also serve as a major attraction to me. I am a sucker for incredible lighting caused by the placement of objects in relation to the sun. I often find myself walking around Manhattan during golden hour and in complete awe of the way light reflects off of the buildings, casting shadows in places that will for a split second be recreated again.  There is something so mesmerizing to me about that phenomenon and how it relates to time and space. The contrast between the areas of light and shadows draws me into this piece in particular. It creates such depth, and thus adds to the character of the painting-- visually and emotionally striking gold.

2.  The Larger Trees George Braques

Color can evoke a multitude of emotion and energy within a piece. I feel an incredible amount of positivity within this dream space.  The vibration of the colors makes me happy. The way the colors seem to move across the painting gives me a sense that the scene is alive, a warm summer breeze drifting throughout. What really brought me into this piece (besides the color of course) was the two figures under the tree. They add so much character to the piece-- standing as simple shapes casting a shadow on the ground below. By hinting at these people, Braque plays with my emotions in a joyful way.  Companionship. The uppermost joy of living.

4. Short Circuit Robert Rauschenberg & friends

I learned an incredible amount about Rauschenberg in the featured exhibit-- Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends.  Rauschenberg's whole outlook on life and art and values truly touched me in a way that is almost hard to put in words.  What is so intriguing about all of Rauschenberg's pieces is that they hold a plethora of meaning: through objects, weathering, and context. By incorporation of the objects in the world around him, he plays upon his idea that art should take shape in a setting of exchange within a certain environment.  Exchange of ideas, exchange of items, exchange of tools.  Collaboration was key for Rauschenberg. 

In "Short Circuit" I was immediately drawn in by an overwhelming sense of community that brings this piece together.  This is a case where reading the plaque changed my view on the whole piece entirely.   And this is what it read:

Rauschenberg created this work in 1955 for the Stable Gallery Annual, a group show in which artists in the gallery’s roster were invited to nominate friends to contribute works. When Rauschenberg nominated artists Susan Weil, Jasper Johns, Ray Johnson, and Stan VanDerBeek, he was told that the rules had changed and that his nominations would not be accepted. In response, Rauschenberg "short circuited" the ruling by inviting each artist to provide a work to be incorporated into his own. Of the four, only Weil and Johns submitted works. Rauschenberg placed their paintings within shallow cabinets concealed by hinged doors; the word "open," written on the right-hand door, prompts discovery of what is inside.

A pure devotion to friendship. A brilliant collaboration of ideas within this community of artist friends. It's inevitable that interaction with thinkers,  dreamers,  entrepreneurs, and artists, inspires us to do great things. Community is so important. It provides us with the encouragement we need to succeed in the things we aspire to do.

So, there you have it.  A look inside how my artistic mind works.

And for all you out there who crave a little adventure, do yourself a favor and open your eyes and mind to discovery, let your curiosity take over.  Experience something over again and be amazed to learn more about yourself and the beautiful world around you. Appreciate life and art and history.

“Learning emerges from discovery, not directives; reflection, not rules; possibilities, not prescriptions; diversity, not dogma; creativity and curiosity, not conformity and certainty; and meaning, not mandates.”

— Stephanie Pace Marshall


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