Tag Archives: Museum

But I Don’t Want to Pay Full Price…

Last weekend I had a visitor! That’s right, Daphne drove all the way to Canarsie, Brooklyn!!! After showing her all that my neighborhood had to offer (namely Caribbean food, bodegas and residential housing), we decided that we should venture into Manhattan.

The Met

Because Daphne was thisclose to finishing her Bachelors in Art History we chose to hit up some museums. Neither of us had been to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in years, so that was an obvious choice. One of the great things about a large city like New York are the sheer number of artists on display. As a matter of fact, one of the artist’s Daphne was writing a final paper about was a featured exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum, and as luck would have it, there are free visiting hours on Friday’s from 5:30-7:30!

So first, The Met. Being the frugal gal’s we are, we were hoping to find a way around the $20 entrance fee. Turns out, that amount is just a suggestion. For student’s the suggested entry fee is $10. Even that was a little steep for us (in our defense I’ve been unemployed for longer than I’d like to admit, and Daphne has been a full-time student without an additional job), so we paid about half the suggested fee.

Egyptian Wing

We began in the Egyptian Art area, simply because it was right in front of us. Daphne had an ambitious plan, because she seems to think that walking around a museum does not expend any energy. As an avid walker and gawker I knew that I would be tired after a few hours, but I let her choose the itinerary. Her goals: European Painting and Sculpture and Greek Art.

Creepy Child

Van Gogh

Van Gogh (up close)

Greek Legs

We had fun walking around. I especially enjoyed giving Daphne numerous pop quizzes. It went something like this:

Daphne: This is a great painting!

Me: Why? I need some historical evidence.

Daphne: Blah blah blah art history information…

In fact, Daphne was quite informative, and I actually learned a bunch. It was great getting historical context, learning specific terms, and her descriptions of what was going on in terms of symbology.

Walking around the museum was also fun because we have similar but diverging tastes in art. We both like impressionism in general. I like the more romantic paintings, and for some reason I also like creepy lithographic prints. Daphne likes creepier and ominous paintings (although I’m sure she’ll deny it now).

Near the end of our walk around The Met, which involved quite a few wrong turns (that place is impossible to figure out, thank goodness for the docents/security guards!) Daphne’s feet were in immense pain. For some reason she decided it would be a good idea to break in new shoes while being a tourist.

I read a great story in The New York Times (my favorite source for art reviews, apparently) about an installation being built on the roof of The Met titled Big Bambú by the Starn Brothers. I was very excited to check it out, and we were both excited about the opportunity to sit in the sun and relax. So up to the roof we went!

Big Bambú from within the piece.

Big Bambú from the side (tourist's are to help reference the size)

Daphne on the roof of The Met

I loved how the viewer really gets the chance to interact with the art. You are literally walking through it, touching the bamboo, watching it being built before your eyes. It feels almost as though you are in an unique little jungle. You can even sign up for tickets to walk along catwalks that have been incorporated into the design (unfortunately we didn’t know that ahead of time). The piece will be growing all summer, so you should definitely try to get over to the roof of The Met and experience it yourself.

After resting on the roof for a bit we decided to head over to The American Folk Art Museum to see Henry Darger (1892-1973).

American Folk Art Museum

Based on what I learned from Daphne, he was a very interesting man. Looking around the first part you saw his collages, which I thought were pretty appealing. A lot of his subjects were young girls, and girls from coloring books. That is when Daphne Started to fill me in (the following is a synopsis of what she told me). He wrote the largest manuscript in the world at approximately 15,000 pages single spaced. It was about a race of evil women who wanted to enslave a race of young girls. He illustrated the manuscript with large, graphic murals that depicted all the little girls with penises. This was likely not attributed to him using artistic license, but rather due to his incredibly sheltered upbringing. He simply didn’t know that boys and girls are different. Daphne said that Darger had some far more provocative pieces, but wondered why they weren’t included in this exhibition. I speculated that the museum wants to foster discussion, but needs to toe the line when it comes to outright offending people. I’m not entirely satisfied with this answer though, because I know some exhibits can be quite offensive, and that their point is to make the viewer uncomfortable.

All in all it was an informative and educational day. We both thoroughly enjoyed The Met, and hopefully Daphne got some interesting material to put the finishing touches on her final paper!


Target Free Fridays at MoMA

I actually went to The Museum of Modern Art in New York City to see the Tim Burton exhibit about a month and a half ago. I paid student admission, and it was still $12 (down from $20 for the full admission price). I decided to return to the MoMA because I read a review of the Cartier-Bresson exhibit in The New York Times. I love photography, and I wanted the opportunity to check out these works.

Target Free Fridays take place every friday from 4-8 p.m. at the MoMA. The line was daunting at first sight (it goes around the block), but it moves very fast. After about 5-10 minutes I was at the front, received my free ticket, and entered the museum. Visitors can also get a free audio guide, all you have to do is leave an ID for collateral.

There are a lot of cool exhibits happening now. One is ‘Picasso: Themes and Variations’, which focuses on Picasso’s lithographs. I particularly liked how they were displayed in sequences that showed the artists progressions, from life-like to abstract and vice-versa. The Tim Burton exhibit was in it’s final days, and was sold out. Good thing I went to check it out last month. On my previous visit ‘Rising Currents’, an exhibit where MoMA and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center address the issues of ocean rise due to climate change, was advertised. I was glad to see it in its entirety, and it was something I found particularly interesting because of my environmental background.

Rising Currents

One of the more avant-garde exhibits was “The Artist is Present” by Marina Abramovic. She is an innovative artist who uses performance art to illustrate her point. The New York Times wrote a piece about how some of the performers feel as nude models interacting with the public. I thought it was interesting how the viewers were able to participate in the art, invited into the pieces in several instances.

The Artist is Present. Here patrons are able to participate by sitting across the table from the artist (in red).

The permanent collection at The MoMA is pretty incredible. I enjoyed walking around and viewing the pieces. I loved looking at different canvases and imagining which artist was inspired by their fellow artists, who may have worked together. The audio guide came in quite handy as well, helping provide insight about artists’ inspiration and hidden meaning in symbolism.

One of the last pieces I saw before I left the museum was ‘One and Three Chairs’ by artist Joseph Kosuth. It’s simple: a picture of a wooden folding chair, the actual chair, and a dictionary definition of the word chair. Listening to the audio guide describe it you learn that Kosuth made this piece to get viewers to really discuss what makes art art

One and Three Chairs, Joseph Kosuth

What do you think? does this deserve a place next to such famous pieces as ‘Starry Night’ or ‘Cambell Soup’?

van Gogh, Starry Night

Warhol, Cambell Soup

Art is subjective, and museums are a great place for fostering discussions about different philosophies, cultural phenomena and art, but there is never any one correct response. Just go and have fun!

Praha: From Cubism to Art Nouveau

Powder Tower in the Old City

Today we set out to explore Prague, Czech Republic. It’s always fun to explore European cities, and when you’re in one as old as Prague, it could take years to find all the secrets the city holds. Having visited the city a few years previously I was very excited to return. Our group took a bus tour this morning, and it was fun to drive past places that me, Lindsay and Daphne saw on our trip; where we begged to park our car, where we got soaked as we searched for our hostel, and where we ate gelato on a warm summer night after getting a pizza box with George Clooney’s face on it.

Today, however, it was freezing. I don’t think I’ve even been this cold on a ski slope. After our bus/walking tour of the castle and parts of the old and new city we returned to the hotel to add a few layers. Immediately we had a family fight, likely due to our growling stomachs and freezing limbs. We returned to the subway, eager to grab some lunch and hit the two museums I had chosen. Our lunch was pretty tasty, but definitely not light, with huge sides of potato or dumpling and large portions of meat. It warmed us up, but made us dangerously drowsy.

I planned for us to hit up The House of the Black Madonna and The Mucha Museum. I chose these because of the subject matter (one is cubist and one is art nouveau), their small size, and because they will be closed tomorrow, so today was our only opportunity to check them out.

A picture of a postcard of the house and its cubist architecture

Center staircase from the bottom up...

...and the top down

The House of the Black Madonna is a house near the old center of Prague, at Celetná 34. It is a cool place to visit because it is built in the cubist style, yet it blends completely with the old architecture of the surrounding buildings. It houses two floors of permanent collection and one seasonal floor, all of Czech Cubists. One the second floor is a beautiful café, where you can come without buying any admission ticket (100 Czech Crowns), and get free internet wi-fi access and delicious food and drink. You can also easily get through all the exhibits in about an hour, so the museum size is not overwhelming.

The Mucha Museum, located at Panská 7 contains the works of Alphonse Mucha, founder of the Art Nouveau style. It’s a small museum, one floor, about 30/45 minutes to go through the whole exhibit. The posters are phenomenal, and I particularly enjoyed some of the works he created upon returning to Czech Republic that contained traditional folk symbols and beautiful artistic figures that have the ability to connect with the viewer (even if you aren’t aware of the symbols and can’t read the language). One piece of advice, always bring a student ID. I paid half price (80 Czech crowns vs. 160), simply for showing my ID. They don’t need to know I’ve been out of school for a year and a half…

Maybe next time I'll hit up this museum