Museum visits before the pandemic

Reminiscing the last few months before the pandemic, my husband and I took advantage of most of our weekends going to art museums.

The first in our list is MoMA, it just reopened in October 2019 after renovation.

The largest exhibit in the opening was from Haegue Yang. The name of the artwork is called “Handles” which implies attachment to the material world. Steel grab bars are attached to her sonic sculptures. The sculptures are mounted in casters and covered in skins of bells. The sculptures produce a shimmering sound when they are set in motion.

There’s a live performance of the sculpture at 4:00 PM and we were lucky to witness it. There was a natural ambient noise of birdsong which permeates the space. According to the description of the exhibit, it was a recorded at a tense political moment in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea during the historic summit in 2018. Reporters tried to hear the conversation of the two nation’s leaders but their audio devices can only pick up the chirping of the birds and the faint click of the cameras.

The picture above is from the artist Senga Nengudi, it is made of pantyhose and sand, she named it RSVPI. The sculpture was inspired by Nengudi’s first pregnancy and her experience of watching her changing body. She worked with nylon mesh as it relates to the elasticity of the human body, from tender tight beginnings to sagging. The body can only stand so much push and pull until it gives away, never to resume to it’s original shape. I thought this is very relatable especially with pregnancy and gaining and losing weight.

Also seen in MoMA is “Equal” by Richard Serra. It is made of 8 blocks of forged weather proof steel. Each block is 60 x 66 x 72″ (152.4 x 167.6 x 182.9 cm). The massive sculptures look intimidating yet inviting.

The changes in MoMA were all great. They upgraded most of their facilities, and navigating through the museum is easier. Since the weather was nice enough, we also spent some time in the courtyard. Sculptures from famous artists are displayed: Alexander Calder’s “Black Widow”; Barnett Newman’s “Broken Obelisk”; Katharina Fritsch’s “Group of Figures”.

In November, we had a last look at the new exhibits at the Guggenheim. Usually the artwork displayed in the main hall, are not so interesting but the small corner spaces are reserved for special small exhibitions which are mostly thought provoking and far more interesting in my books.

The most disturbing artwork in this visit was from Catherine Ople where she has self portraits of herself with tattoos that seem like self-inflicted.

Also in November, we went upstate to see Dia Beacon, it’s a good day trip from New York city. They have an extensive collection of artwork from famous artists like Andy Warhol, Lee Ufan, Michael Heizer, Richard Serra, Mel Bochner, Barry Le Va and On Kawara.