/ Two Big Kahunas…MoMA vs. the Met

Having recently attended two highly publicized exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art — both located in New York — I’ve decided to write about my impressions of both.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

On Sunday, October 21st I decided to visit the Met and see the new and highly controversial exhibit entitled, Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years which will be open to the public from 9/18 to 12/31/12.

From the get-go this show has received negative comments. Specifically, many critics feel that the artists the curators selected make no sense — and that their work bears no relation to Warhol, apart from the fact that they, like him, make art.

Here’s my opinion of this exhibit. Seeing 45 major Warhols all at once is a terrific experience. Starting with a 1967 self-portrait of Andy as one enters the exhibit and ending with an acrylic and silkscreen on canvas entitled Ethel Scull, 36 Times — was a marvel I won’t soon forget.

Summing up, here’s an interesting twist. One critic has called this exhibition a “Trojan horse” and notes that “under the guise of featuring an influential Pop artist, the Met has crept through the gates of contemporary art curation.” Meaning: this exhibit prepares the Met to compete for funding that is currently earmarked for MoMA, the Guggenheim and the Whitney — as it looks forward to its upcoming annexation of the Whitney’s Breuer Building at 75th and Madison Avenue and its bold foray into modern art.

More power to the Met!

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

On Saturday, October 27th I was on my way at 9 am to see The Scream by Edvard Munch. As a member of MoMA, I am eligible for a “members only” viewing at 9:30 am to 10:30 am every day except Tuesday, which is a very civilized way to see a crowd-pleasing exhibition.

The Scream had been recently purchased by billionaire Leon Black, a New Yorker and member of the Board of MoMA. It was auctioned at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale in New York on May 2, 2012. The bidding started at $40 million with seven buyers and quickly went down to two phone buyers. The historic hammer price of $119,922,500 was achieved in just 12 minutes.

As I walked from the bus to MoMA, I noticed people in a long line that extended from Park to Lexington Avenues on 51st Street. The line was for free food given out by St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church (this was before Hurricane Sandy hit).

Not to be judgmental, but I couldn’t help but reflect: here I am going to see a painting that was just purchased for $120 million — and now I’m witnessing close to 200 people silently waiting for a food pantry to open. The disparities in economic levels in New York are astounding.

Having seen reproductions of The Scream many times it was interesting to see the real thing (albeit on the wall in a plexiglass box) in a mini-exhibit of Munch paintings and prints. The viewing did not disappoint, but I had a more subdued reaction to The Scream than to the Met’s Regarding Warhol exhibit which I found electrifying.


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