I recently visited the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). I went there to see The Vincent van Gogh show titled, Van Gogh and the Colors of the night. The show ends on Monday 5 January 2009. The show is a tour de force of van Goghs nocturnes and revolves around a quote by van Gogh, “It often seems to me that the night is much more alive and richly colored than the day.”
I attended the show on a recent Friday evening, I knew the museum was free after 5pm but was shocked at the crowds (the line was three blocks long for the free tickets) . Entrance to the show was by a timed ticket and all the tickets were sold out when we arrived. Luckily I was the guest of a member so no timed ticket was required and we were able to get into the show.
I found the exhibit crowded and difficult to move from one work to the other and from room to room. This could have been the result of the free ticket night, amount of folks in town for the holidays, and the tail end of the show…a perfect storm as it were.
It’s a shame that the curator didn’t place this show in the space given to the Dumas show on the 6th floor ( think the whole thing would have shown better in that space). BTW, do go and see the Dumas show it’s amazing. I love her painting, Measuring your Grave (photo courtesy of the LA Times).
I thought the show was interesting, but honestly it simply didn’t live up to my expectations. The back story that I read (sorry this was awhile back and I can’t remember the source, probably the New York Times Art section) was intriguing.
Joachim Pissarro (the artist’s grandson or great grandson) was discussing the kind of show he’d like to create. He mentioned his interest in the van Gogh works that portrayed the evening/night and was told to run with this idea. The show includes translations of letters between Vincent and his brother Theo as well as book with specific passages that inspired Vincent. I think it could have been brilliant, but something was missing.
Basically, you walk in and start looking at paintings, the flow of the spaces was extremely awkward so you had to go left then turn around to look at a half wall, then go to the other side of the door and look at the paintings on that side of the room. Almost each room of the exhibit was laid out this way.
My favorite painting in the exhibit was vanGogh’s portrait of Eugene Boch. It was beautiful and read well up close or from 15 feet away. It was gentle and mesmerizing. However it doesn’t seem to photograph well, sigh. If you checkout the online exhibit you will get a better sense of how beautiful this painting really is.
The apex of the show was in the next to the last room. TaDa, they’d moved the Starry Night from another area of MoMA to the exhibit. Sadly, you couldn’t photograph it (even though MoMA owns it) because there was no photography allowed at the exhibit.
One of the unexpected delights of this visit were from Philotti Rist’s installation, Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic Meters).
What I loved about this installation is that you participated it in. They wanted you to be free enough to dance, or sing, or whatever. I wisely chose to nap (ok just a bit).
Rist’s installation was on the second floor of the museum you heard snippets of it when ever you were near the escalators. Many of us peeked over the balcony trying to figure out what the heck was going on on the second floor (it looked like it was totally dark from above). Basically on the floor of the installation they installed some shag type carpet in what looked like brown (sorry it was dark). In the center of the room was a large circular ottoman type thing, imagine a circle about 25 feet across and you get the idea. The sofa/ottoman was about 6 feet wide all the way around and in the center was another bunch of brown shag carpet. There were pink pillows strewn about and kids jumping and giggling, couples spooning, people like me just taking it all in.
The video installation was in three of the walls at it was amazing. Some type of zen sounding yoga-ey music was playing in the background and here were these extreme closeups of flowers, earthworms cute piggys, water, you name it. It was great. The show will be there until February and if you can attend please do so, hopefully you will really love it.