Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lucky you.

People often tell us how 'lucky' we are to be able to go to New York. We've just come back from there, and we always reply by explaining we don't think it has much to do with 'luck'. It's become what feels like an essential detour from our daily routines, a chance to sink our faces into its massive and multi-flavoured trough of art, design, buildings, people and food, and gorge on them all till we're full.

For someone who spends pretty much every day at a desk looking at things on paper, or on a screen, this kind of stimulation and refreshment stopped feeling like 'a treat' a while ago, and became essential to creative development and thinking. You can feel the pace change there - though it's different from the frantic tension of London. All varieties of human being, creativity, food and dog is there to be engaged with. Here are a few of the things we saw which came back with us for continued nourishment. Some we've seen before and needed to look at again, some things are new. All are inspiring, and although 'luck' has little to do with our seeing them, we are certainly fortunate to do so.

Museum of Modern Art: Umberto Boccioni.
This is 'Unique Forms Of Continuity In Space', 1913.
We saw Umberto's work last time and couldn't stop thinking about this muscular, striding work, and his moving paintings. All the more poignant is his triptych of loss at a railways station when you learn that he died aged just 33.

As another one who died young, it's easy to look at all Van Gogh's pictures solely through the prism of his illness and early demise, but if you can put that aside for a minute, you can appreciate better the massive vibrancy and robust energy in his painting, I think. This is a portrait of his friend, which he apparently did from memory. Seen at MoMA.

Leigh and I adore this picture by Picasso of some jazz musicians. We looked at it a few years ago and our faces were plastered with smiles to see it again. Look at those feet! How can you not laugh? And hear the music playing in the background?

Also at MoMA - mother and baby. With a new infant joining the family soon, this one had a little more significance than it might otherwise have done. The baby's face was extremely impressive.

I liked this as it reminded me of my own work a little bit - if I was to tackle a sheet of paper with no particular brief and some big brushes -and of Arabic lettering. Colours were sprightlier than they appear here!
Hmmm...artist un-noted, sorry.

Alex Moulton bike at MoMA. Leigh's just sold his! This is an older version though, with smaller wheels.

Check those hips! Lovely sense of balance in MoMA's sculpture courtyard.

And for a contrasting silhouette...

At the Guggenheim, John Chamberlain's crashed-car sculptures gleamed outside and hummed inside (closed to cameras, but throbbing with colour, metallic injuries and twisted foil). Only recently deceased, this fella lived a loooooong time and had the body of work to match. Tons of it. Literally.

Also discovered at the Guggenheim was Francesca Woodman, who launched herself from the top of a Manhattan building aged only 22, but not before she had created a huge body of photographic work which appears to have come to public attention only relatively recently. A student of Rhode Island School of Design, she photographed herself in abandoned buildings, in black and white, and one can't help pondering what she might have been doing now had she survived. I walked around the entire exhibition anticipating what the conclusion would be to this exciting story of a woman who would be just 11 years older than me - perhaps a professor, perhaps a patron of the museum, maybe overseeing a large studio somewhere. The reality of what happened stopped me in my tracks and had me blinking back tears at the wall - but I know that a couple of those were tears of gentle envy at having been so creatively resolved at such a young age, and having the balls to make the work she did. There is little else to envy about her life of course, but surprises like that make you think.

Things don't necessarily have to be 'on show' to be good! Check these juicy 'B's, both found on the subway.

...doorways at street level...

And this little work of art - ask for a bog-standard 'latte', get Coney Island in a glass!

Blossom on the magnolia...

...handsome signwriting on a truck...

...and metal jewellery on a car.

Then there is the view, by very early day...

and by night.

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