A Visit to the MoMA

I feel like it should be raining.  The sunny day somehow seems incongruous with my mood.  Maybe I just need some high fructose corn syrup or something.

Yesterday, I went to see the exhibit “Picasso: Themes and Variations.”  You know I love me some Picasso.  (Just not quite the same way Ry does.)  His paintings are so vibrant, I sometimes think I see the walls they hang upon shaking.

This exhibit is a departure from the usual Picasso painting-a-thon, however.  This was all about his etchings and lithos – more intimate insights into his process.

Accompanied by my dear friend Don, we quietly glided through the pieces.  It was surprisingly uncrowded.  As we paused to appreciate The Frugal Repast (Le Repas frugal), a high pitched scream filled the room.  We looked at each other, eyebrows knit together in confusion, then resumed touring the space.

Shit like that happens at the MoMA.

We paused, waiting for a group of people clustered in a corner to clear the space.  Absentmindedly, I peered over the head of a small, gray-haired woman to view a study of a woman’s face.  She lifted her hand towards the glass, caught herself, pulled her arm back and whispered heatedly to her companion, “He was just so…PHALLIC…in everything he did!”  Our stifled giggled were interrupted by another piercing scream.

My absolute favorites where the series.  While Picasso’s artistry is never questioned, I sometimes feel that people question his skill because he oversimplifies the human form.  But really, he was quite skilled at realistic sketches – it just wasn’t his thing.  That’s why I literally swoon when I get to see his process – the deconstruction of a menacing beast to a simple, yet instantly recognizable, line drawing.

Talk about discipline!  I am far too lazy for that shit, far too eager for instant gratification.  I’m all, why bother with all those other drawings when you can just cut to the line drawing? *sigh*  I just tried to whip out a quick line drawing of a bull and it looks like two year old tried to draw a cat.  THAT’s why the bother, I suppose.

I guess it’s a lot like writing.  There’s this massive, all encompassing picture of an event, and then there’s the story you want to tell.  You’ve got to come at it from all angles, right?  Figure out which lines are truly necessary, drive the story, add to the experience and then remove all the others that are distracting, detract from the message (like this entire paragraph).

Here’s another example of Picasso’s creative process documented:

Don and I wandered through the rest of the museum at a quick clip.  Neither of us felt the need to spend much time in the Bruce Nauman installation, a room filled only with stools and hanging speakers that projected different voices reciting the days of the week.  That installation could have used a few bendy schlongs and witty banter.

There were more screams.

We worked our way back downstairs..  Turns out they had a mic and speakers set up as part of a Yoko Ono piece instructing patrons to

1. against the wind
2. against the wall
3. against the sky

Sea of Wishes

And boy were they EVER.  Don and I made our escape to the Sculpture Garden.  Tucked into a corner, dappled with sunshine, sat a small potted tree, dripping with luggage tags.  It was another Yoko Ono piece entitled “Wish Tree.”  I grabbed Don and pulled him over.

“We have to do this,” I urged.  I pulled two damp paper luggage tags from the bin.  I scrawled Don’s name, then Sarah‘s name, then “Fuck cancer.”  I handed the pen to Don.  “It can’t hurt for your blood work.”

I folded my tag in half then tied it to a spindly twig of a branch.  Don stretched high above my head to place his wish, too.

Fingers crossed.


  1. i know it’s an unpopular opinion, but i dig yoko’s avant garde art. it’s my kind of weird, i guess.

    just saw a huge picasso exhibition at the philadelphia museum of art last month. love me some pablo, too.

    i promise to add a “fuck cancer and the motherfucking cockroach it road in on” wish to the tree for don and sarah when i’m in ny for blogher.

  2. Man, I haven’t been to the MoMA in ten years.
    I am ashamed!
    However I did manage to catch the Picasso museum in Barcelona when I was there a while ago and was blown away.
    That wish tree is beautiful and I hope each and every one of them come true. Well, except people that wished for stupid shit.

    1. I lurv Barcelona. I could spend a lifetime there. I’m obsessed with Gaudi. Obsessed I tell you! I can’t think of a single other city more embracing of their artists.

      I may or may not have added one that said, “For SC to come and claim his rightful bride, KD.”

  3. I would love to see that show. There are some repros in one of my books that show preparatory sketches Picasso made for a portrait of a woman named Helena Rubenstein. You can clearly see that he was thoroughly bored with the sitter. The sketches look like caricatures, they reek of sarcasm.

  4. Umm,I was going to go to the SB Museum of Art while I’m here, but now you’ve scared me with the screaming thing. WTF?!

    Kernut the Blond’s last blog ..The Time I Worked For Fred Krueger and Donna Mills

    1. I am having trouble with WiFi. This was meant for your guest post on Ry’s blog… Ugh.

      Here is my comment:

      Wish Tree. Lovely. Will it be there in August? We should all go there to add our wishes for Sarah too. And your trip to Paris next year.

      The creative process. That’s why I respect Picasso so much. It’s like he has reached the Zen stage.

  5. Picasso sends his thanks. He’s over here working deconstruction while I invent new and exciting isms.

    I too loved the Barcelona museum… I’d go back in a heartbeat… Ladies?

Comments are closed.