Monday, August 3, 2015


Everything changed for me when I went to MoMA. Not in the way you might think. I always wanted to visit MoMA to see the temple itself and to experience the works of art I have only ever seen in books. The downside to visiting what is essentially a 'must-see' tourist attraction is the miserable selfie culture. On top of this, or hand-in-hand with it, is the cult of the 'must-see' artworks. In the Louvre it's the Mona Lisa, in MoMA it is Van Gogh's Starry Night. Or it was when I was there. So no chance of experiencing the work on its own merits because people are jostling for a picture of it or a selfie in front of it. There was a similar experience of ipads and iphones blocking lines of sight in front of Monet's Water Lilies too. So that was when I realised that wanting to be at the top of the art world (not that these artists necessarily saw this coming or thought that way) your work will invariably end up being a prop in someones selfie lifestyle or misguided obligation to art tourism.

The better experience for me was viewing the history of toys exhibition or some of the other exhibits outside of the modern masters everyone flocks too. In fact the Met proved a more satisfying experience all round. I did have a wonderful experience looking at Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World at MoMA. It was tucked away down a corridor toward a lift lobby and no-one was around that area. This was one of the artworks I was haunted by as a child - there was a print in my Primary School library. It was wonderful to see it and really engage with the details: Seeing the birds up in the left-hand corner; The rather clunky rendering of the hands; The intimacy, the colour, the texture. It was as spooky as I had remembered it.

I haven't given up on art and the power it has to evoke emotion, but the museum system, the art world, the tourist culture, the selfie culture, the scale and prestige of institutions have come into sharp focus for me.

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