I can't begin to describe how amazing the MoMA's collection is! The fifth and fourth floors hold the most renowned and impressive works of art, so that's where I'd suggest you begin your visit. The 5th floor is dedicated to painting and sculpture from the 1880s to the 1940s, so that's where you'll find Monet's Waterlilies, several paintings by Picasso, Matisse, and Van Gogh's famous "Starry Night", just to name a few.The 4th floor focuses on art from the 1940s to the 1980s, showcasing works by the likes of Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol and Roy Liechtenstein. I took a quick look around the 3rd and 2nd floors (contemporary art forms), but I saved the small amount of time I had left to visit the fantastic special exhibition on René Magritte. So unless I make some kind of remarkable discovery on a future trip to NYC, I think it's safe to say that the MoMA is and will remain my favourite art museum in the city!
The MoMA is open daily from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm, with late nights (8:00 pm) on Friday. Tickets cost $25, but admission is free on Friday nights from 4:00 to 8:00 pm. We stopped for lunch at Cafe 2, and I was very impressed with the quality of the dishes offered. I had the bruschetta trio, and they were all amazing! My friend Julie tried the cold cuts platter, and she was also very happy with her choice. Prices were reasonable too!
MoMA is located in midtown Manhattan, on W 53rd Street, squeezed in between the skyscrapers. The M train took me to Rockefeller Centre, so it was just a few blocks north, past Radio City Music Hall to get to the entrance. The $25 entrance ticket provided access to all the galleries containing icons of mid 18th century to present day art & sculpture, and also to the majority of the currently running special exhibitions.
The 5 storey high atrium is stark and white, and housed the Claes Oldenburg 'Mouse Museum' of found objects on this occasion. An exhibition of architect Le Corbusier's work focused more on his design and artwork, than on built structures. Exhibitions of photography and graphic art were present on the lower exhibition galleries.
It was in the upper galleries that the iconic modern art collection of the museum is displayed. The collection includes famous works by Andy Warhol (Campbells Soup Cans), Ray Lichtenstein, Van Gogh (Starry Starry Night), Jackson Pollock, Mike Rothko, Claude Monet (a roomful of lillies) to name just a small proportion. The museum also encourages and allows photography pretty much anywhere and of any thing, which is a magnificently enlightened approach.
Of course, we all know Andy Warhol's Gold Marilyn Monroe where Marilyn's portrait seems to fade through the gold canvas (the painting was rendered a year after Marilyn's death).
To see the Warhol painting from a different angle, see it through the mirror (actually, a highly polished stainless steel) of another painting across the room, Michelangelo Pistoletto's Man with Yellow Pants. Pistoletto's life-size painting of a man that seems to be standing in the middle of a gallery. The reflecting stainless steel upon which his figure is superimposed means that there are various angles to see the painting, and in one of these angles, is a reflection of Warhol's Marilyn Monroe painting across the gallery.
One of the most fun paintings at the MoMA.
This short film is one of the most memorable I've seen at the MoMA. It dwells how various people use seemingly mundane appliances/gadgets as an outlet for their desires.
I don't see the theme as sexual, but rather more on man's (or a woman's) innate ability to "improvise" using everyday appliances to fulfill - or as the title suggests, manage - their desires.
The link below will take you to the film's "official" website, where you could watch one of the segments of an airline stewardess and how she deals with her need - not for speed - but for turbulence. Very interesting.
This is arguably one of MoMA's most famous paintings. The contradiction between the turbulent sky and the peaceful village beneath it, probably evokes the van Gogh's inner emotions?
Van Gogh's bold, colorful brushstrokes of sombre blues, blacks and greens also contrast dramatically with the bright yellow moon and stars. Again, perhaps a reflection of his conflicting inner emotions?
If you love jazz, you'll love this painting by Piet Mondrian, himself a jazz lover. Although Mondrian is originally from Europe, he seemed to have done an excellent job in depicting NYC's grid network, the movement of traffic, and the rhythms of jazz with the intersecting lines with blocks of white, red or blue in the intersection points.
This is a triptych of Monet's Japanese-style pond, where the center of attraction are the water lillies. Much of this humongous 6' 6 3/4" x 41' 10 3/8" (in total) paintings depict the water that fills the pond and the reflection of the sky. Just as Monet instructed it to be, the paintings are displayed on a curved wall.
This is as classic Americana as you can get. The soup cans are arranged in chronological order in which they were introduced to the market, with "tomato" having been first launched in the market in 1897. It was said that Warhol arranged the cans in no particular order when he first displayed these 32 individual canvasses.
It's amazing how an object of everyday living - in this case, Campbell's Soup - can be immortalized by one of Pop Art movement's most popular leading figures.
Fast forward today, the varieties of Campbell's Soup have expanded, and the grilled chicken and sausage gumbo is my favorite. It makes for a quick, convenient meal.
This 1909 Matisse painting was commissioned by a Russian merchant, and came with a pair Music, which is currently displayed at the Hermitage in St Petersburg.
It is said that Matisse once described his painting as evoking "life and rhythm" - something which is clearly evident from the movement of the dancers - visibly, in clockwise motion. The movement becomes more visually dramatic with the break in the circle as shown by the dancer in the foreground trying to reach out.
Another popular Miro work, my take on this is focused on the sperm-like figure in bold red color. Its "union" with the female egg marks the beginning - or genesis, if you will - of new life. I find this interpretation very relevant to the work's title The Birth of the World.
Although I find this interpretation cute, I am still trying to figure out what the black kite means. The human figure is easier to interpret - which is the result of the union of the sperm and the female egg!
This is one of Joan Miro's most popular works, but is very much open to a lot of interpretation (for one MoMA's website does not have any). This French-titled work literally translates to "swallow love" and is filled with figures of heads, heels, legs, etc., in true surrealist fashion.
My two cents' worth is, is this is Miro's interpretation of the English idiomatic expression, "head over heels" - or what one feels when he/she falls madly in love? Perhaps. Who knows.
No Impressionistic notions, no Cubist compulsions, this is plain and simple patriotism - Jasper Johns' Flag. Made of newspaper strips and encaustic paint (a mixture of paint and molten wax), mounted on a piece of plywood, the painting can easily pass off as a real flag from a distance.
But looking at the painting closely, there are just 48 stars! Jasper Johns' Flag, completed in 1954, pre-dates the statehood of Alaska and Hawaii, both admitted to the Union in 1959.
This is one of Henry Rousseau's most celebrated paintings for its dreamy effect, precision in the use of lines, and surrealistic colors,
It is also perhaps one of Rousseau's most influential paintings over the younger generation of avant garde artists such as Picasso. All these seem impressive for a painter that never had formal training. Rousseau's daytime job was that of a toll collector in Paris; he harbored dreams of going to the Academy, but never actually made it there.
This smallish 9 1/2 x 13" painting by Salvador Dali is easy to miss, yet it's perhaps one of MoMA's most famous - and possibly - most haunting piece. The limp watches, the decay implied by the swarm of ants and the seemingly decomposing piece of flesh - some say a distorted self-portrait of the artist - have the potential to leave the viewer emotionally distressed.
Definitely one of the most emotionally overwhelming paintings I've seen.
Painted a year after moving to Paris, I and the Village is Marc Chagall's way of reminiscing his life in a Jewish village near Vitebsk, Russia - in a distinctive Cubist manner. While Cubism mainly dealt with urban and avant-garde subjects, Chagall's use of rustic, let alone nostalgic scenes was a unique feature by itself, in addition to the evocative use of angles, lines and geometries.
I vividly remember learning about this painting in school - in black and white textbooks - but to see the painting in all its colorful glory is something else. The use of bold colors over equally bold lines and angles was amazing.