It certainly seems like Michael Bloomberg has done a lot of good things for New York City. And the world at large. But I also owe him personally since my friend Sarah’s Bloomberg connections got us free access to some wonderful art exhibitions on this trip.
I am a big fan – and small supporter – of the arts. But Bloomberg sponsorship of the arts – and the vision of making the arts more accessible to a wider audience – is definitely something to celebrate. You may not realize but your free audio guides at the Guggenheim are courtesy of his generosity.
You will likely have to pay for the shows but I do think they are worth the price of admission. To make sure my visit involved more than shoe shopping and gluttony, Sarah and I went to a couple of current shows at some of the temples to art that are a large part of the New York experience.
I know I think I slagged Picasso a little bit in an earlier post. And he apparently produced 50,000 art works. He didn’t seem to be a particularly great guy to have a relationship with. And I’m not quite sure he didn’t court fame a little more than a proper Englishman would consider dignified… but, hey, the dude was a great artist.
I’m not convinced everything Picasso signed his name to is a masterpiece but he certainly produced a lot of them. And this show was fascinating as it is only works in black and white. Apparently Picasso did not believe colour was fundamental to the art.
My friend Sarah said I had to see it as lots of these works are privately held and this was a once in a lifetime chance to see them. As a huge fan of Kandinsky – who thought colour evokes moods and used it as symbolism – I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to think about black and white…
But it likely won me over as a much greater fan of Picasso. Not all the works really “spoke” to me but many did. And it was incredible to see what he could do with such a limited palette. It was also interesting to see how he used that limited palette to create many different types of work as he was influenced by the world events of which he was part and the women he decided to sleep with…
If you can, definitely go and check it out.
We also went to the Met to see the current Matisse exhibit. Sarah is a big fan of Matisse. I wasn’t so sure. I think I saw too many Matisse posters in dorm rooms in my youth. But he is an important artist. And I love art. And am always open minded 🙂
And it was a great exhibit, even if you aren’t a huge fan. It is focused on Matisse’s love of drawing – and his penchant for reworking the same motif in different ways. They have gathered multiple works of art for many of the famous pieces you might have seen in a major gallery somewhere in the world.
What engages you is that you see the same painting essentially from multiple points of view and it helps the non-artist to better understand the choices that the artist makes in composing the final product.
It also helps to see the process of modern abstract art, where the artist might start with a composition that is quite realistic and almost photographic. But then they will distort details – or apply unnatural colours – or just simplify lines to create an essence of the subject matter rather than a true representation. We weren’t always sure we would have chosen the final product based on the options, which made us wonder what the artist was thinking and how his process worked.
Art is meant to provoke us. To make us question things. To make us see the world in a new way. To make us question ourselves and maybe evolve in new ways. As a very analytical person, I am attracted to art for its fluid and non-linear qualities.
Humans seem to need to make art. It happens in the poorest and most primitive societies. I am a big advocate of science and the scientific method. But I think really great societies engage their citizens in all ways and encourage them to work both sides of their brain.
Art has always offered me an emotional connection even my super analytical brain could not properly explain. Art has provoked me and expanded my questioning and understanding of the society in which I live. Art has disturbed me. Art has made me smile.
It’s important. It is one of the elements that create a civilization – and civil citizens. So I salute Mayor Bloomberg and the efforts he has made to make art available to all.
I also have to thank him for the wonderful profile I saw on Bloomberg TV while I was in New York. I am watching The Daily Show as I type this – and it is reminding me of the segment they did on Jon Stewart. Given my mega-crush, it was fascinating to have more information on his early career and the genesis of The Daily Show. They just talked to the cast of The Newsroom in their sketch, questioning whether the only investigative journalism on the air anymore is fictional… It’s like Stephen Colbert singing with Harry Belafonte. Some moments in life are just pure gold 😉
http://www.thecomedynetwork.ca/Shows/TheDailyShow?videoPackage=129456 (for Canadians – Jan 14, 2013 episode)