I went to MoMa last week, in particular to see the new Cindy Sherman retrospective. That was not as exciting as I’d hoped it would be. It was also difficult to enjoy given the amount of lost tourists seemingly just trying to see all that they could as if completing a scavenger hunt. One such young girl walked into me with her huge SLR camera, and a young mother rolled over my foot with a stroller, obliviously squeezing between myself and the art a mere foot or so before me. Who are these neanderthals that don’t know how to behave in a museum?
Anyway, I meandered through the rest of the building, glad to find a few galleries that were less bustling. I was reminded of several artists I admire, and discovered a few new ones to revere.
Kara Walker has been a solid favorite of mine since I first laid eyes on some of her cut-out work, I believe at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) in Glasgow. (If it wasn’t there, perhaps it was at the Tate Modern in London.)
I love her work for it’s bold clean execution, but equally for it’s powerful statements in oppression. In particular with the work above, the statement about the filthy truth behind so much history that people prefer to be proud of, while ignoring or being oblivious to the cruel reality, I find satisfying. Especially in America, people like to think of our history as tidy little bundles of old white men doing good for their fellow countrymen, sprinkled with catch phrases like freedom and independence. Hardly ever do we consider the suffering that this country is built upon.
I was pleased to find several of Marisol’s pieces on display. Love incorporates a real Coke bottle. This could mean a lot of things, but for me, it smacks of addiction and corporate greed. We’re all just mouths ready to guzzle a product.
Marisol’s LBJ is also on view. I think it’s really cool that she chose to shape his body like a coffin to symbolize all of the death that occurred, particularly in the Vietnam War, during his time in office.
I remember seeing this Ellen Gallagher piece, DeLuxe, at MoMa when I was in college. This picture does not do it justice. It stretches across a wall, each of those individual pictures around a full 8.5×11 page size. This is a huge statement on cultural identity, and “self-improvement,” using a lot of magazine advertisements from the 30s through the 70s (I had to put that in quotes, because it’s just so subjective). Her range of mediums is impressive, even including googly eyes.
I feel compelled to include this piece by Martin Kippenberger, because it freaks me out. This thing is life-size! I don’t think that art has to be pleasant or strike positive feelings in a viewer in order for it to be worthwhile. I also really liked the pieces of fabric on the shirt that feature a globe print.
Lastly, Allan McCollum. The description of this piece is mostly to do with the craft of the individual components and the symbolism of the lack of distinguishable character of “the artist”. I just like how someone got away with getting this absence of art into a museum. It’s a smart ass of a work.
I was glad that I spent a few hours at MoMa (and that it didn’t cost me anything), but if I return anytime soon, it would only be for a killer exhibit. It’s just not worth fighting the ignorant masses.