September 6, 2007

A loftier contemplation of architecture and anatomy.

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ADDED: People take the trouble to go to a museum -- this is the Museum of Modern Art -- and then reveal how much more interested they are in the world outside the museum than the art. Look at how everyone goes for the windows and ignores the sculpture.

AND: To be fair, there was sculpture to be seen once you got up to the window and looked down:

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But that doesn't explain everyone congregating at the window and no one hanging around the sculptures in the room. I think people were utterly magnetized to the window and the view of outdoors.

But the sculpture in the courtyard is by Richard Serra. Here's ground-level view:

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AND: The Serra sculpture is vulviform.

36 comments:

SteveR said...

A couple young folks looking out the window. Makes sense.

John Burgess said...

Not to quibble, but might there be something in that courtyard--say a piece of sculpture--worthy of contemplation from above?

Paddy O. said...

How is the world outside less art than the modern art inside?

Are the windows missing a label?

I like going to museums of modern art because they open my eyes to notice shapes and forms and patterns, a noticing that always is fun for those moments after I walk out the doors and view the regular world with that same heightened perspective.

Having those windows there seems to be inviting just that same pursuit, with unintentional artists proclaiming much more modernity than the pieces with pedestals.

Impartial observer said...

We would only know if your improbable claim were true if you posted a movie. My guess is that they looked at the sculptures that they had to walk by in order to get to the window. But what are you telling us—that you did NOT look out the window?

Looks like condescending A-Housebabble to me.

the Rising Jurist said...

The world we've built, largely out of utility, is a piece of art in itself. This is especially so when you get to see it from a different vantage point (hence all those top floor observatory decks on skyscrapers).

james said...

Some galleries must have taken as their guiding creed: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." Nothing on display is recognizable.
Which I suppose makes it refreshing to look at real buildings and real people afterwards.

dasclemhaus said...

Um, what John Burgess said. They're looking down into MoMA's sculpture garden, and are probably looking at the Richard Serra work installed there (MoMA's exhibition of his work closes on September 10).

jane said...

Nice photos. Brings to mind, though, how uniform the specs and experience are for most modern museums and gallery spaces: glass curtain walls, white interior walls, high ceilings, hardwood floors, track lighting, extra cool air, uniformed watch’persons’, quiet people, milling, peering at titles, looking contemplative, whispering profound, looking at watches, lunch or tearooms with Herman Miller tables and Bertoia chairs, and large Caldor outfront or hanging in atrium.

david hayes said...

These are very good pictures. They remind me that if I ever go to NYC again, I HAVE TO stop by the MoMA.

From Inwood said...

Prof A

Astute observation, though I must confess that I also gaze out the window of the Frick & The Met, as well as others.

I do agree with James.

Go to the Cloisters in Inwood & if you gaze out or you gaze in you'll be enthralled & enchanted. It's lasted all my life.

dick said...

I also agree with James. It seems to me they are saying more about the perceived quality of the sculpture on display than just the view outside.

Trooper York said...

Was that Helen Mirren or Emmylou
Harris?

jane said...

The Serra looks like Cor-Ten steel.

Yes, it is, and look what Wiki uses for an example. Which is odd, because I've always thought of it for arch/ civil engineering applications, although handling it during construction is fairly onerous, since it literally must be given the white glove treatment to avoid hand oil spotting.

Paddy O. said...

Is the courtyard designed with the sculpture as a complete installation or did they put the sculpture into a static courtyard?

The former gives a Garden of Eden quality to it, and emphasizes the windows as the proper viewing point.

The latter emphasizes the ground level walk-through (rebirth?).

Ann Althouse said...

I think it's temporary. I hope it is, anyway. People get mad at things like that if they stay around to long.

rcocean said...

Isn't "modern art" simply art 95 percent of the people dislike?

There's nothing wrong with art being "interesting" or "clever" or "new" but there really isn't much to it is there?

lee david said...

Hey look out the window. It's more of Richard Serra's rusty cor-ten sheets of steel clogging up another coutyard. The transformation is astonishing, he has a unique ability to make any nice courtyard look like a scrap yard.

Jeremy said...

When I saw that last photo I thought, "That looks like Seattle's Olympic park." Then I looked it up and realized it was the same guy. Is this like a sculpture version of lithograph prints?

jane said...

Serra must be the new Caldor. Need to update my specs.

Chip Ahoy said...

These vulviforms with water features are everywhere. This one is not nice. It's hard, rough and rusty. Walking through it you wouldn't want to touch it for getting it all on yourself, like Cheetos®.

Steven said...

I'm so old that I can remember when if you wanted to be considered a sculptor, you had to have some ability to actually, you know...sculpt.

I'm also old enough to have once worked at a Caldor store, where we did not carry any works by Calder.

Paddy O. said...

People get mad at things like that if they stay around to long.

I'm already mad at the next Christo installation. And I have no idea what or when that might be. Maybe that's his artistic contribution. He provokes a visceral rage. Fortunately, those never do last too long.

Then again I walked by the Picasso in Chicago regularly for a while, and that's been there for a long time and isn't going anywhere. Picasso really could do anything he wanted to anyone and they just have to take it.

Palladian said...

I'd rather Serra stuck to his boring, rusty steel than his recent embarrassing foray into political art at the recent, always-embarrassing Whitney Biennial.

People are confusing modern art with minimalism and contemporary art. Many people like modernism. It's minimalism that confounds and annoys.

jane said...

Steven, did I misspell Caldor/Calder (and did I misspell "misspell"?) Not going to bother googling. Thanks for any help.

Revenant said...

The museum patrons turn their backs on the clean, accessible phallic artworks near at hand to gave longingly at the giant rusty vagina in the distance.

A liberal arts major could wring two or three term papers out of all that symbolism. :)

Seriously, though, the true modern art is television and film. Painting and sculpture are dead art forms -- which isn't a criticism so much as an observation that everything interesting that can be done with them has BEEN done with them by now. People have been painting and sculpting for a hundred times as long as they've been making movies.

Palladian said...

"Painting and sculpture are dead art forms -- which isn't a criticism so much as an observation that everything interesting that can be done with them has BEEN done with them by now."

You sound like every other tiresome, jaded postmodernist hack that taught every pointless course named "Critical Issues" or "The Death of the Real" that I was ever forced to take in Art School. Painting and sculpture will be around to skip your funeral when the time comes.

Revenant said...

Painting and sculpture will be around to skip your funeral when the time comes.

So will cockroaches. That doesn't mean anyone will want to look at them.

There has been a lot of great sculpture and painting that will stand the test of time and be remembered long after we are all dead. It just isn't being made anymore, and hasn't been for decades.

downtownlad said...

There has been a lot of great sculpture and painting that will stand the test of time and be remembered long after we are all dead. It just isn't being made anymore, and hasn't been for decades.

Can we nominate this for dumbest comment of the day?

downtownlad said...

Architecture is just a form of art. The fact that people are admiring the view would probably give great happiness to the architect.

Take the Guggenheim for example. The building itself is probably a better piece of art than every single painting that has ever hung on its walls. And Frank Lloyd Wright knew that.

Galvanized said...

Oh, props on the silhouette museum pics. I like 'em! :)

Revenant said...

Can we nominate this for dumbest comment of the day?

If you can name a sculpture or painting produced in the last 30 years that has a legitimate shot at still being admired in 300 years -- feel free to do so.

Until then I'll rightly consider your opinion that my comment was "dumb" to be as misinformed as everything else you believe about me.

dick said...

I cannot believe this is happening to me. I actually agree with a comment by DTL. That comment about the Gugenheim is absolutely true IMNSHO and is a very insightful remark. Kudoes to you.

Molly said...

reverent, you also forgot music, which has been around as long or longer than painting and sculpture. That's why I never buy new albums, of course.

Biff said...

I've stood at the same window. After a certain amount of time focusing on the art, it becomes clear that actual people are far more interesting, enlightening, illuminating, and impenetrable than most of the sculptures. Eventually, the art seems tedious in comparison to leaves in motion, architectural contrasts, and the sun on people's faces.

I'm reminded of the time I scandalized my professor of "modernity" about half way through the semester when, after she identified yet another object from literature as a homoerotic phallic symbol, I suggested that her entire syllabus could be summarized as follows: "If something is longer in one dimension than in another, then it is a phallic symbol. If the dimensions are not unequal, then it is either a square or a circle, either of which represent a vagina...and no one who ever made an important contribution to society was ever simply heterosexual."

Those were the days...

Palladian said...

"Eventually, the art seems tedious in comparison to leaves in motion, architectural contrasts, and the sun on people's faces."

Weak minds are easily distracted.

"and no one who ever made an important contribution to society was ever simply heterosexual."

Well, duh.

Revenant said...

reverent, you also forgot music, which has been around as long or longer than painting and sculpture. That's why I never buy new albums, of course.

People have been *playing* music for thousands of years, but there is almost no music in existence today that is more than a few centuries old -- and where popular music is concerned, virtually none older than a century.

Music had, until the invention of the phonograph, the (dis)advantage of being transient -- every performance was different, and, once performed, gone forever. Painting and sculpture endure.

There was therefore always a demand for new musicians, because the creations of the old ones -- unless they were rich, educated, or important enough for their works to have been recorded in written form -- were gone forever.

Now that music is being recorded, musicians are starting to encounter a similar problem. Classical musicians are running into the problem that definitive recordings of the classics have now all been done, and there is rapidly shrinking demand for new ones. Even sales of popular music are growing stagnant -- because with few exceptions any new band is just a warmed-over version of someone who already has CDs for sale.

I doubt that music will last more than another fifty or hundred years as a dynamic artform. As it is now, can you think of a single song produced in the last ten years for which a superior song conveying the same ideas or emotions didn't already exist?