In part two of our season premiere, art & design:
@MetAmericanWing: The expanse of the Met never ceases to amaze, as evidenced by this iconic juggernaut:
Even the frame is imposing. Just when you think you’ve explored everything the Met has to offer, they open two new wings (this with the Islamic wing, which I regrettably have not seen because I have been literally unable to find it). The reinstalled American Wing is not quite the labyrinth of the European galleries, but that continent does have centuries of heritage on us in that regard. And while not my personal taste, I do commend the sincere inclusion of artists like Frederic Remington who are usually relegated to small, regional museums due to the lack of widespread rock star luster (and East Coast snobbery). Take a moment to hike up to the second and third floors of the faux-façade to experience the period rooms—delightfully more inhabitable and less pretentiously guarded than the French Regency rooms. But beware of their shocking realism and your seemingly gargantuan height. People have evidently grown exponentially over the centuries, because the rooms have been installed to a historically accurate scale and my modest height of 6’1” required extensive ducking amidst the low-hanging beams.
@RadioCityMusicHall: America’s Showpalace! It is a house performed by such musical luminaries as Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, the Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, and of course, Justin Bieber. It is not only one of the country’s most famous theaters, but perhaps more importantly a quintessential exposé of American Art Deco, significantly the United States’ first own design style. The building is a glossary of the Art Deco vocabulary—I won’t bore you with the art historical details, but it transports you back into a more decadent era, when entertainment merited such a cathedral, as it was not reality television (which I am watching right now). So for those of you with aspirations to win a Tony Award or an MTV Video Music Award, here’s your view:
@ImpossibleConversations: If you ever wondered who was responsible for people being horribly dressed in the 1990s, blame Miuccia Prada. “Ugly Chic,” as she calls it, is the cornerstone of her design process: “It’s about bad taste—which is part of life today.” Can’t say I disagree with that. She challenges standards of beauty blah blah blah—doesn’t everyone think they do these days? Prada’s supposed foil—and the other end of this “Conversation” analogy—is Elsa Schiaparelli, arguably the fashion equivalent of Surrealist artist Salvador Dali.
With how seriously the fashion industry takes itself today, none of her designs would make it down the masochistic runway. While paired with Prada, someone like Jeremy Scott would perhaps be a more accurate contemporary parallel to Schiaparelli, as he too navigates his career with tongue firmly lodged in cheek and a delightful twinkle in the eye. The exhibition’s “conversation” is a little forced, edited and styled to more conveniently make the point, but ultimately it is an exciting fashion show, even if some comparisons seem too similar for two completely independent minds to have conjured them.
@TheSteinCollection: Exhibits of collections from the perspective of the amasser harbor increasing fascination, such as the Met’s prior exhibition of the collection of influential gallery owner Alfred Steiglitz, as their distinct personalities emerge from the mounted walls. It also proves that art survives based on the whim of the tastemakers. The paintings themselves were almost underwhelming in how iconic they are—basically the Modern Art lecture from Art History 101.
Numb to the smattering of $25 million+ artwork (one ill-placed sneeze might knock off a few mil.), one of the most impactful features was the presence of floor-to-ceiling photographs of the original rooms the paintings once called residence. These images not only contextualized the paintings and their collectors, but also broke the cadenced monotony of painting after painting after painting…after painting that is sometimes the unfortunate side effect of white-walled museums, instead creating a celebratory paradise for the work of Picasso and Matisse.
@ArtOfAnotherKind: Is it too irreverent to call the Guggenheim Museum an architectural whipped-cream dollop? Prairie School fans are gathering their pitchforks. As a Guggenheim novice, most time was spent enamored with the architectural flow rather than the exhibition itself—and there were Impressionist paintings I should have been impressed with! The exhibition itself is a winding tour of Abstract Expressionism as shaped by differing Post-War cultures, and was the perfect guide for an introduction to the Guggenheim since these paintings work best as decorative accents (oops, did I say that?). But the re-visitation effect of cycling back down the rabbit hole, afforded by the aberrant architecture, grants the opportunity to re-ponder the amazing canvases on view.
Suggested wine pairing: Well, my strategy has been to find the largest bottle at the cheapest price—keeping it classy. At least it’s not in a box.