Saturday, January 13, 2007

modern art and macworld

I just visited the SFMoma today before MacWorld. Since its one of the easier galleries to get to, I make a point to go a couple times a year. The departure from realism makes some work hard to digest. I recall my first visits yielded more of a speedwalk through the exhibitions, with a movie review mentality "yes, no, two thumbs up, five thumbs down."

However with subsequent visits, the work changed. It took like 4 viewings to "get" the wall-sized Rothko - a fuzzy luminous field of orange and blue. I sat on that bench for several minutes before a nice warm feeling set in. For lack of better words, its like having a cup of really good hot cocoa - rich, savory, comforting. And what a surprise to find that the mini-essay accompanying the piece confirmed my experience (sans the cocoa analogy). I often give myself one assignment for the day "find one thing with pretty textures" "look only at images, read nothing" "read everything" "find something new""look at stuff you don't like."
Often I just check out the design section, to see everyday objects, like tableware, bicycles, and advertisements have been created to be useful, attractive, and efficient.
This is the first museum where had long-term relationship with paintings. Sure they are static objects, but each time I approach them as a different person. Some work I like aesthetically right off the bat. Other might turn me off for five years, and then mysteriously become captivating. Right now a am fascinated is Philip Guston, who uses a pink that I find slightly repellant. However his use of limited symbols, rich texture, and hefty scale convey a sincere personal exploration. I feel as if I am looking into a dream or nightmare,

Today I spent with my nose 2-inches from the canvas. I was intent on brushtrokes - some generous and some spare with their paint application. Surprised to find pencil scribbles showing through a Matisse, brushstrokes visible in the seemingly flat graphical planes of Mondrian and to reflect on the lure of the smooth photo-realistic painting of Bechtle and Sheeler. The coup d-etat of texture was the 3rd floor display of Anselm Kiefer.The museum had removed most of the walls from a large room and lined it with these large narrative pieces - tarlike pigment, caustic, propellors, rocks all dangling from heavy canvas. He defies my normal expectations for what can be troweled, wired on, and dangle from a panel of fabric. It takes more than 5 minutes seated across the room to absorb the energy of these.

After all that, I hustled out to the Macworld to join the throng surrounding the plexiglass pedestal and slowly rotating iphone. I wanted to be non-plussed, but found myself oohing and ahing, with my fellow shinything admirers, as much at the sleek execution of new technology, as to the peculiar affect it had on my fellow conference goers.

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