MuseumHop: What’s Worth Seeing at MoMA?

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Bwogger Liz Naiden heads down to the MoMA to inform you, eager Art Hum disciple, which new exhibitions to wait in line for and which to skip.

A trip to the MoMA is the perfect substitute for counting down the milliseconds until vacation or panicking out impending finals doom. The powerful and pervasive anti-neoclassical mood of the place sure put Bwog in a good mood, at least. The museum has much to offer these days. Bwog’s first stop was its new special limited access exhibit, Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night. to get a coveted backstage pass one must obtain a “timed ticket” which will tell you exactly what time you are allowed to enter the gallery. The wait is well worth it: Van Gogh’s obsession with nighttime and twilight is well documented in letters and literature that influenced his paintings. Anyone who expected just twenty versions of Starry Night is in for a big surprise – the paintings and exhibitions aren’t just experiments on the sky and light. Many paintings and sketches depict people doing things past sunset, like sitting at a café, going to a show, walking a dark street, or working a field at twilight. Ah, Bwog has not seen a wheat field in many moons.  

Among the other exhibitions that don’t get such special treatment as Van Gogh’s many wheatfields and peasant scenes is New Photography of 2008 featuring Josephine Meckseper and Mikhail Subotzky. Though Meckseper’s style is nothing new or particularly fascinating – feminist fascination with women in lingerie, popular culture, materialism and advertising, and mixed media in the oh-so-symbolic storefront windowesque display case – Subotzky is another story entirely. His work is jarring and jarringly realistic, unstaged and all done in existing light. Sometimes it is the image of a brutal beating, drug use, or an act of prostitution in progress that hit hardest, sometimes just the sharp, honest image of life in a poor town in South Africa.

On a lighter note, in the same gallery is the exhibit The Printed Picture, which examines different forms of printing up close with digital enlargements — who knew that inkjet printing upclose looks a lot like pop art? Then there’s Pour Your Body Out, an installation that provides a huge perfectly circular couch and floor to sit on to view film projected onto three walls of the gigantic room. The music, if that’s the word, provides a supernatural feel, while you watch tulips being eaten by a child, dirt being scraped, and then suddenly feet in a pond filmed from underwater, and purple strawberries floating, and primordial goo, and a naked woman madly chasing a revealing camera angle, and a warthog eating an apple.    

By the time you reach the sixth floor and the Joan Miro exhibit, everyone’s nerves are fried. Many tourists fight for a seat on the one cushioned bench outside the dramatically fluorescent introductory wall explaining Miro’s decade of rebelliousness and “resistance to a unified style.” The crowds move quite quickly through Miro’s characteristically cartoony squiggly squigs and 3D wire-paired-with-lima-bean-shape pieces, hoping not to realize that no matter how you do it, rebelling against existing art is nothing new. 

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  1. you

    spelled Joan Miro's name horribly wrong.

  2. ForArtHistoryMajors

    the Joseph Beuys one-room show is actually a big deal. MoMA just purchased a bunch of pretty important work by him.

    Also important: the contemporary show show for once manages not to fall flat on its face. Solid pieces by Hammons, Conrad, On Kawara, among others.

  3. horrified

    whaaatt are you talking about. the miro exhibit was absolutely amazing and definitely deserved a real write-up. and people did NOT move quickly through it when i was there you are perhaps projecting

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