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Archive for January, 2009|Monthly archive page

The Cloisters

In Manhattan on January 28, 2009 at 10:29 am

The Cloisters are an offshoot of the Met but ALL the way up in Northern Manhattan right near the Hudson river on 190th St. Unless you have a car (or a gentle soul who will drive you up there) it can take an hour and a half or more with all the trains, buses and walking you’ll have to do to get there. But once you get there, it is well worth it. The Met has built a reproduction of a Medieval Church in which to house their medieval art collection including altarpieces, crucifixes and other churchly adornment. I know that medieval art isn’t the first thing to do on every tourist’s list of New York City To Do’s but this museum makes it all worth it. And even if you aren’t as interested by the art and gilded painting, the view of the Hudson from way up there is well worth it. I can imagine 100 years ago or so when the upper east side was suburbia – one day we’re going to be saying the same thing about 190th St. and the Cloisters. They will no doubt be smack in the middle of things like Mount Sinai Hospital (at 101st St.) or Tribeca is now. 

Oceanside Museum of Art

In California on January 26, 2009 at 12:39 pm

The Oceanside Museum of Art is a small regional museum in Oceanside, California about 30 minutes north of downtown San Diego. It has just been entirely refurbished with a giant addition to the original Irving Gill building. I think they are still in the middle of a massive capital campaign. The museum generally shows regional exhibits of regional artists with several juried exhibitions every year. I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with their newly hired curator while I was in Oceanside and she has very forward views about making the museum more than just a regional California museum but really making it a destination in a part of the world where you can’t hardly go two feet without stumbling upon another museum. She seemed very clever and certainly seemed to know her stuff, so I would watch out for the upcoming OMA! While I was there, there was a show called Quilt Visions. Quilt Visions is a juried exhibition of the best fabric and textile arts in Southern California. There is quite a bit of innovation going on in the fabric arts (or, if nothing else, I’d not paid much attention to what was going on and so what surprised by how interested I was by it all. It is certainly not limited to Amish-style quilts). I believe that the museum aims to put on four to five shows per year. This is quite the feat considering that the museum staff is limited to five paid employees. I have ABSOLUTELY no idea how a museum (and a pretty decent one at that) can run with only five employees. Think of it: the Met has over 130 curators alone, not to mention the development, education, and administrative staff, assistants, building and grounds crew, etc. There must be around 1,000 individuals working to make the Met the great museum that it is. It’s not wonder that it moves so smoothly. I am excited for what the future has in store for this museum. And if nothing else it is worth a visit merely for the fact that it is about two blocks from one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve been to!

De Young Museum

In California on January 23, 2009 at 11:12 am

Being the world traveler that I am, I thought I’d mention the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California. I’ve only ever been to San Fran a few times, but this last time I was in the area we made a point of spending a solid afternoon in the De Young. And let me say, I was very impressed with both the content of the museum and the overall flow of the building. It is a highly recognizable Herzog and De Meuron building in the middle of a really lovely park. The California Academy of Science is across the way (there was a great article in the NY Times about this museum the other day)

We has just missed a giant Chihuly exhibit (if you’re like me, you’ve seen Chihuly EVERYWHERE but still enjoy him. I am absolutely fascinated by his character and work structure) which I would have enjoyed and mostly stuck to their permanent collection. On the whole, I had a really excellent time. It was just so nice to get outside in the sunshine in such a wonderful park as Golden Gate Park that by the time we got to the museum I was in such a good mood it was hard not to enjoy it tremendously. And I found that the art was really only half the fun – the building is ridiculously beautiful and unusual and interesting, there is a nice courtyard right around the restaurant (where you can get overpriced nibbles), and the sculpture garden was splendid. I am always a bit of a sucker for a nice sculpture garden though.

 

If you are in the bay area this museum (and the whole Golden Gate complex) is not to be missed. 

Neue Gallerie

In Manhattan on January 19, 2009 at 11:36 am

When I went to see this small, private museum it was still t-shirt weather in New York (i.e. it’s been a while) but I think this place warrants a post all the same. Neue Gallerie, literally the “New Gallery” in German is a wonder of a place and fully deserves the attention of any dedicated art aficionado. I’d never heard of this place before a professor of mine recommended that we go around and see it. It’s housed at 86th street right up against Central Park in a gloriously decadent mansion which once belonged to the Vanderbilts (but, really, what part of New York didn’t once belong to one of them).

The museum is the brainchild of Estee Lauder heir Ronald Lauder, who, after his good friend and gallerist Sarge Sarbarsky passed away in 1996, opened the museum of German and Austrian Expressionist art as a tribute shortly thereafter. The museum houses some of the best examples of Gustav Klimt’s work (such as the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer which was bought at auction in 2007 for 132 million dollars) and many great examples by Egon Schiele, Max Beckman, Erich Heckel and German design by Josef Hoffmann and Peter Behrens.

The show I saw was very carefully curated and the grounds and building are amazing. With any interest in Art Nouveau or architecture, I think it is well worth a visit to this museum. And perhaps most importantly to me (who tends to get very overwhelmed by the large crowds at MOMA blockbuster exhibitions), the crowds were quite tame and I was really able to get up close and personal with the paintings and other works. I find it so much more rewarding when I am able to really study the works rather than do a fly by like so many people are forced to do at the international quality museum which are so often frequented by hoards of tourists.

The Brooklyn Museum

In Brooklyn on January 18, 2009 at 12:02 am

I have been to New York City countless times in my life but I’d never been to the Brooklyn Museum before. Maybe there is something about crossing the East River that lends a bit of inertia or maybe it just doesn’t have as high a profile as the Met or MOMA. Whatever it is, the Brooklyn Museum deserves better, much much better.

I saw the Judy Chicago “Dinner Party” there and it was spectacular. I can’t say that the exhibit was designed particularly well (my friend and I circled about three times before we found the entrance and the educational materials) but the show and the Feminist Art Center was spectacular. It far exceeded my narrow-minded Manhattanite expectations.

In total it was wonderful. There were few people there, the exhibits were well curated and not too jam packed with information and the grounds are great. I have a special place in my heart for Brooklyn and now the Brooklyn Museum only solidifies that place. After we’d seen the Dinner Party we finished up with the Feminist wing and then saw a ridiculously huge exhibit by Gilbert + George. It was far and perhaps even good, if that sort of art suits your fancy. Otherwise I was a bit underwhelmed by the remaining special exhibitions. I hope to return again soon and spend more than an hour or two perusing the offerings.

The best part: $8 (suggested, ha!) entrance fee. Why go to the Met and pay a $20 (suggested) fee when you can go to Brooklyn, bypass the crowds and see some fabulous art.