For a long time I thought my overwhelming “museum feelings” were linked to certain sites or specific pieces of art.
The type of feelings that envelop with totality and without warning when viewing works of art.
Perhaps the love affair with art began when I was in high school; I chose French Renaissance Art as my subject for a term paper which meant spending weekends – quite willingly – in Cincinnati’s Art Museum Library conducting research. My instinct, however, sez it started years before.
Nonetheless, I find that whenever I frequent museums or art happenings – Burning Man included – there’s usually a painting, sculpture, fixture or installation that renders me “struck”. I get a lump in my throat and my vision goes blurry.
Yesterday’s SFMOMA visit was no exception; I was struck several times by vastly different exhibits.
Initially touring the permanent exhibits, I was quite surprised by Paul Klee early works described as “monstrous figures.” I love Klee’s sweeping grandness and color but I was taken aback by this dark, detailed material.
The day, however, belonged to cutting edge fashion and portrait photographer Richard Avedon, whose career spanned 50+ years.
Avedon’s 1950’s-1960’s photos of Twiggy, Brigitte Bardot and Katharine Hepburn oozed natural beauty and starlet material. But his image of Marilyn Monroe seemed to capture the icon’s mix of blazing sex symbol & confused nymph that would be her legacy. THAT image presented an emotional moment for me.
Equally moving were Avedon’s images of Louis Armstrong, Igor Stravinsky, Nureyev’ “En Pointe” and Merce Cunningham who died two weeks ago. His politicians spanned decades and worlds removed from Kissinger to Carter to Obama as Senator.
Equally moving was the series of photographs documenting his father’s losing battle to cancer and the commissioned body of “In The American West” works portraying faces of middle America. What a career span and what an incredible talent.
The MOMA also featured works by Georgia O’Keefe and Ansel Adams which presented yet another revelation. Georgia didn’t do it for me. She used to but not anymore. That’s just the way it goes, I guess. But the Ansel Adams works spurred awe and yet another throat lump over his Sand Dunes gelatin silver print.
After touring, I sat on the museum rooftop in the sun beside the large installations basking in the afterglow of appreciation.
Museums are magical places; I am oh-so-lucky to have the mobility, eyesight and wherewithal to visit them.