New York, Part II
After MoMA and Brooklyn, we were ready to devote a day to the Met (as if a day could be anywhere near enough!). First was a Cubist exhibit of the collection of Leonard Lauder, of Estee Lauder fame. The exhibit included more than 80 works of Picasso, Braque, Leger and Gris. Eighty was more than enough Cubism for me.
Next was a collection of portraits of Madame Cezanne by her husband. Cezanne is one of my favorite artists and it was wonderful to see the many different ways he painted his wife over the years. Several pieces done around the same time, in the same dress, didn’t look like the same woman.
After an overpriced but hearty lunch in the Met’s cafeteria, we inquired about getting to The Cloisters, which was included in Met admission fees. We were told we could get a bus on Madison that would take us right to the door in about an hour, so we walked the few blocks to Madison, waited a few minutes for the right bus, and climbed aboard for a two-hour ride not quite so excruciating as the Super Shuttle ride, and far cheaper, since we had Metro cards. It was around time for school to get out, so kids and nannies and parents were commuting home. One very dignified African-American lady fussed loudly about the lack of manners among the young men who were not giving up their seats for ladies, so it was at least entertaining.
We toured Harlem and Morningside Heights and saw the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and Columbia University. When we finally arrived at The Cloisters, we had 45 minutes left before closing, much of which we spent outside in the gardens and on the balustrade overlooking the Hudson at sunset.
We decided not to brave another two-hour bus ride and took the bus to the first subway station. We were able to actually take the A-Train, which was fun just to say. Planning to get off and walk through the park back to the Met, we didn’t realize the A-train was an express until it sailed through several stations. We finally got off farther downtown and got on an uptown train to the park and walked across to the museum. We saw several photography exhibits: remarkable early photos of Yosemite by Carleton Watkins and photos by Thomas Struth, about which the only thing I could say was that the photos were large). Finally, Splendor and Eroticism in Imperial Prague, which was more splendid than erotic. Our paths never took us to the newly restored Lombardo “Adam,” but what can you do with so much to see and so little time?
We had arranged to meet a friend in Queens for lunch Saturday. Before getting the train out to Astoria, we browsed a Christmas market at Grand Central Station. Most booths displayed pricey jewelry, knitwear, toys and other geegaws, but in the booth for the Transit Store I found this bag, which I’m using as a purse.
We took the N train to Astoria, where our friend picked us up and took us to MoMA PS1, an outpost of MoMA, housed in an old re-purposed school, which shows only contemporary art. The most compelling exhibit was “Samara Golden: The Flat Side of the Knife,” a large installation that skews vision and imagination through mirrors, shimmer and illusion. It’s impossible to describe and fascinating to view from various angles.
We picked up friend’s husband and daughter, the most beautiful and amazing 14-year-old I have ever seen (the last time we saw her she was three) and had a delicious Queens-style lunch (meaning at least some part of it was Greek–I had spanokopita and Greek salad) at Igloo Cafe, and caught up with our friends’ lives.
We headed back into Manhattan to catch the Guggenheim’s “pay what you wish” rate after 5:30, astonished that the line was already a block long. But it moved fast (thank heavens–it was freezing) and we took the elevator to the top in order walk all the way down this fantastic Frank Lloyd Wright creation. The building is the art as much as anything on the walls. The exhibit all the way down the ramps was “ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s and 60s,” about an art movement that used light, movement and space as artistic material. Several side galleries had works of more traditional paintings, including an exhibit by another of my faves, “Kandinsky: Before Abstraction.” It was Kandinsky’s abstracts that first taught me how to appreciate (and love) abstract art.
The only photos permitted were in the lobby.
Sunday, our final day, promised to be warmer (50s), perfect for our plans for an outdoor day, starting with the 9/11 Memorial, World Trade Center and the High Line. We ended up doing even more, so I’ll save it for the next and final episode….