“Did you see this upstairs?” asked a women as I took a photo of the huge painting of flowers over newsprint that hangs in the Museum of Modern Art’s lobby.
“Oh no, I’m just getting started,” I replied. The short woman with a kind smile went on to tell me that the painting is from the special exhibit on the top floor and that I should go see it.
“There’s a lot of work up there from women artists,” she said. Is my feminism strong enough for total strangers to pick up on now?
The pamphlet confirmed that I should start on the top floor so I made way up. The exhibit was about atemporality – the idea that because we live in the information age, where works from all of time are available online, art influence is no longer a straightforward matter of chronology. People are influenced by a new and unparalleled access to predecessors across time and space – and that concept just makes me really happy.
Next I descended to a floor on paintings and sculptures from the 1880s-1940s and then down one more to a floor with work from the 1940s-1980s. I witnessed the cataracted waterlilies of Matisse, the exaggerated angles and curves of Picasso, and the brush-y swoops of Van Gogh transform into the controlled chaos of Pollock’s drips, the icon-ry of Warhol, and the impressively crafted large-scale pop art.
Some point in here it started snowing outside and it was all kinds of incredible. I watched from the window as big, fluffy flakes softly cascaded in the courtyard against the pale-grey sky. It was one of those moments you can feel yourself remembering as it cements itself into the “never forget this” part of the brain.
I went down another level to explore architecture, design, drawings and photography. I saw a satirical film piece about how to become invisible by being a pixel; I gave a minute to a soy sauce bottle in the exhibit to honor the recently deceased designer who made its form ubiquitous; I learned how the symbol we commonly accept as the technology power switch came to be; I took in band posters from the 70s; and I took a seat because my feet were killing me after four floors.
I rallied for the Toulouse-Latrec exhibit on the second floor and immediately wanted to watch Moulin Rouge (for probably the one-thousandth time).
This place is full of so much beauty and I’d say it’s my favorite museum thus far. It was so refreshing to see work from the last century. I especially loved how the placards and audio tour made an effort to include time period context and hint at how the goings on of the world may have influenced different bodies of work. It made the art much more relatable.
I left all smiles and rounded the corner to a nearby vegan restaurant called Beyond Sushi. I ate the best sushi of my life and got back on the subway to call it a day.