a unique perspective on this crazy world

Posts tagged ‘picasso’

Thanks, Mayor Bloomberg! :)

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.

chrysler building on a sunny day!

chrysler building on a sunny day!

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.

http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/exhibitions/on-view/picasso-black-and-white

mom at the guggenheim

mom at the guggenheim

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.

http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2012/Matisse

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.thedailyshow.com/full-episodes/mon-january-14-2013-roger-waters

http://www.thecomedynetwork.ca/Shows/TheDailyShow?videoPackage=129456 (for Canadians – Jan 14, 2013 episode)

http://www.hbo.com/the-newsroom/index.html

from the power of horses to the horsepower of the internet

The magnificent 20th century… OK, so there were a couple of world wars, we built an atomic bomb, communism in practice was a lot less successful then communism in theory, terrorism went global – but I am a glass half full kind of girl and the 20th century also improved the lives of a lot of people.

I guess it started with the millennium.  It’s not too often in your lifetime you can celebrate an event like that.  But the first 900 years compared to the last 100.  Now that’s a hockey stick in biz speak.  Human development in the 20th century looked like the sales charts for iphones at apple 🙂

I am fascinated by the twentieth century.  Part of it stems from the fact that both of my grandmothers were born within the first decade of it and lived just shy of their 100th birthdays so their lives spanned the entire 20th century.

Of course, those were the people who grew up in the era where personal information was horded like a stack of dollar bills in an airtight safe.  And both my parents were the youngest in their families so there were several generation gaps between us and I didn’t have the vision as a teenager to ask them, “what was it like?”

Because it must have been a wild ride!  To be born into a world where electric power was new and the automobile a fairy story, the airplane an impossibility.  And then to die in a world connected by bytes of magic that meant you no longer needed to get on a plane to have a face-to-face conversation with someone on the other side of the globe.  Oh, electricity, thou art a goddess at whose feet we should all worship 😉

As I’ve already mentioned, I was really impressed by the intellectual content of Swedish museums.  So, intrigued by an exhibit entitled, “Picasso vs. Duchamp” at the Moderna Museet.  Apparently the Moderna Museet has a very large Duchamp collection.  And Picasso painted enough stuff every major museum in the world has some Picasso.

Apparently they were great rivals.  And very important figures in the history in modern art.  This may well be blasphemy but neither has ever done much for me.  So I had underestimated their importance.  But the museum’s exhibition was clever enough to get its point across… really modern painting or more or less the creation of the idea of conceptual art.  Paint all the time and promote yourself as some kind of art whore who might be better at being famous… or produce so little art infrequently that you might come across as a bit above the whole idea of art as a business…

Personally I was far more intrigued with the WHEEL!  Picasso and Duchamp met for the first time in 1912.  They are definitely two of the most influential forces in modern art in the 20th century.  The museum suggests that the 20th century saw more major changes in both historical events and art history quiz items than any century before.  To help support the point, a giant wheel was created with each year of the last 100 labeled and one art event and one historical event for that year cited.  Visitors are encouraged to carefully turn the wheel to follow the history of art and of mankind in action…  For history geeks like me, wow!  Better than either of the artists’ stuff 😉

http://www.modernamuseet.se/sv/Stockholm/

Apparently when the Moderna Museet opened in 1958 it was one of the world’s most groundbreaking contemporary art venues.  It introduced Swedes to all kinds of crazy art that at the time was being questioned as to whether it was really art or not?  Now it’s modern art collection seems a bit more like a museum piece but the building is great and the collection is well organized and worth checking out.  Probably better though not to go to the Tate Modern first 🙂

And, even if the permanent collection seems a bit tiny compared to the Tate or MOMA, the special exhibition was definitely worth seeing… if only for the wheel of history.  So much more interesting than the Wheel of Fortune.  Spin this one and you might just learn something…  😉

midnight in paris

I love the cinema but often find I don’t have the time to sit in the inky dark of a movie theatre watching the trailers in anticipation of the main event.  As a result, I have become a big fan of Air Canada and the personalized entertainment on almost every flight.  I always climb aboard with a list of films I am hoping to see someday…

One of the films this trip was “Midnight in Paris”.  I think I have seen every Woody Allen film – even the bad ones!  This was supposed to be him returning to his glory days.

The film starts with panoramic shots of famous Paris iconography.  Few cities have so many instantly recognizable famous sites.  It took only seconds for me to realize it was the absolutely PERFECT film to watch on the plane to Paris!

The messages of the film resonated over my first two days in Paris.  I have been to Paris so many times I have lost count – and have explored a lot of the city.  But all the visits have been far too fleeting and there are still many corners left to discover so now my strategy is to choose hotels in new neighborhoods to expand my knowledge of the city.

Paris v1.0 this trip I spent two days in Montparnasse.  Montparnasse is close to St Germain des Près, my usual stomping ground, but just far enough away to be something new.

Sometimes I use my guidebook and sometimes I just use my instincts.  In Paris, I just used my instincts.  And ended up at La Closerie des Lilas, where the paper menu had been signed by Buzz Aldrin along with many others.  I chose it because it looked busy, the menu looked appealing and the maitre d’ seemed OK with a table for one.  The server was exemplary, teasing me that since I had a French menu, I had to order in French (no problem :)) and bringing me a half bottle of bordeaux he deemed worthy of me.

The server, the bordeaux and the entrecôte on a balmy March night in Paris would have been enough but at the end of the meal some ladies invited me to join them.  This is how I learned the restaurant had been frequented by Hemingway but was apparently not all it had been back then.

Nostalgia – not one of the deadly sins – but dangerous all the same.  For those who haven’t seen “Midnight in Paris” the big theme is how we always think an earlier era was the “golden age” and sit restless and unsatisfied in our “real-time” world.

I think it’s an important message for the educated traveller.  I have been teased by a French server at Les Deux Magots trying to imagine Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir arguing over a coffee.   I have drunk an outrageously expensive Bellini in the original Harry’s Bar in Venice (where it was invented).  I have sipped the most expensive glass of champagne of my entire life on the veranda of the Victoria Falls Hotel pretending to be a pampered colonist.  Like the guy in the film, I have run all over Paris trying to be Hemingway.

The experiences have been OK.  But none have been special.  And mostly I just felt ripped off.  So I finally had that eureka moment and quit drinking overpriced beverages chasing the glamorous past I had read about in books with ghosts and embraced the future.

I was travelling to the past to find the zeitgeist.  It made no sense.  The Paris of 2012 will never the Paris of the 1920’s.  But the Shanghai of 2012 might well be.  If you want to be like Hemingway, you need to think, “where would Hemingway hang out in 2012?”

Certainly not in Paris.  Maybe Shanghai?  Maybe Mumbai?  Istanbul?  These are the exciting cities of the 21st century.  I haven’t been to Mumbai yet but in the other two I felt like I was discovering the future.

I started finding history in the making and participating.  Making up my own narratives in places that would – in the future – be someone’s golden age.  My life became exciting and my stories started to rival Hemingway’s.

And if the film is accurate, lots of these famous guys were douche bags so WHY did I want to follow in Hemingway’s footsteps anyway?  Or Picasso’s?  My sense is these guys were assholes.  So who cares what they drank – or where – or with whom?  I need to create my own personal narrative.  So far I think I am giving them both a run for their money – and my ex’s LIKE me 🙂

One of them – with whom I am still friends over a decade since the breakup – described me as “a woman who is hard to forget.”  Hemingway would likely have been intrigued.  But I would have told him I don’t do bad boys.  Nice guys are so much more fun!  Without all the nice guys taking pity on me and bringing me out of my shell, I would never have become the kind of woman who would tell Pablo Picasso, “honey, you’re talented for sure, but you’re a little too Kim Kardasian for me.  I think Otto Dix is far more interesting…”

I send people to Paris to pretend they are living in the 18th century.  Paris is one of the only places I’ve been that preserves its history with such diligence.   It is a wonderful city.   But it is only the exciting center of the universe it was in the early twentieth century in the movies.  God bless Woody Allen – Paris has never looked better.  You should see the film.  And you should come to Paris.  But also go to Berlin and to Istanbul.  They are cities where the zeitgeist is in the present.

Revel in the zeitgeist.  Be part of your own era.  Embrace it and create the stories of the present that the people of the future will romanticise and try to re-create on their own voyages into the dangerous land of nostalgia.

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