Thursday, March 31, 2011


Bob and I had a wonderful trip last week to visit our sister-in-law Mary who is serving a mission in New York City. She comes home this fall, so we knew our window of opportunity was narrow.  I had a week off for spring break, so the timing was right.  It was fun to see Mary in her element and to meet her wonderful companion, Sister Miller. We had a great time walking all over NYC with our own personal tour guide.

One of the places we visited was the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA.). Someone has said that trying to understand modern art is like trying to follow the plot in a bowl of alphabet soup. While I can't claim to understand what I saw at MoMA, I LOVED this museum, partly because there were so many pieces I recognized.  I can thank Andrew for having given me an excellent art education over the last five or six years.  See how many of the following paintings you can name the artist of. (The answers will be at the end):





(Hint: This artist is also known for his "sculptures" of a toilet seat and a urinal water fountain)













It's a pretty amazing selection, isn't it?  Most of the paintings here should look at least familiar to anyone with a passing interest in art, with perhaps the exception of #12 and #18, two contemporary artists I would never have heard of if Andrew hadn't exposed me to them.  

Have you written down the names of each of the artists?  Are you ready for the answers?  Here they are:
1. Henri Rousseau (French, 1844-1910)
2. Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
3. Paul Klee (Swiss/German, 1879-1940)
4. Amedeo Modigliani (Italian, 1884-1920)
5. Marc Chagall (Russo-French Jewish, 1887-1985)
6. Marcel Duchamp (French, 1887-1968)
7. Vincent VanGogh (Dutch, 1853-1890)
8. Paul Gauguin (French, 1848-1903)
9. Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926)
10. Piet Mondrian (Dutch, 1872-1944)
11. Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907-1954)
12. Jasper Johns (American, 1930--)
13. Roy Lichtenstein (American, 1923-1997)
14. Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
15. Rene Magritte (Belgian, 1898-1967)
16. Joan Miro (Spanish, 1893-1983)
17. Jackson Pollock  (American, 1912-1956)
18. Edward Ruscha (American, 1931--)

I used to think "modern art" and "contemporary art" were one and the same. Not so.  Modern art spans a definite time period, roughly the 1860s to the 1970s (at least according to that source of all knowledge, Wikipedia).  For the most part, I like modern art more than contemporary art, but as my understanding and education (thank you, Andrew) is expanding, I'm finding more to like in contemporary art as well.  All in all, I enjoyed this art museum, with its vibrant, exciting art, as much as any art museum I've been to.  

I'll end with two more pieces from MoMA: a painting I loved but whose artist I had never heard of, and a tongue-in-cheek poster that seems particularly relevant by an artist who teaches off and on in the  UCLA art department:

Dynamism of a Soccer Player by Umberto Boccioni (Italian, 1882-1916)

Barbara Kruger (American, 1945--)

Monday, March 7, 2011


San Francisco oozes artsy-ness.  I especially love the outdoor art.  Take a look (click on the individual picture for a close-up):
Sidewalk art in a back alley in Chinatown: "The free exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world."  -John Steinbeck

There were about a dozen of these.  "Poetry is the shadow cast by our streetlight imaginations."  -Lawrence Ferlinghetti

TO REMEMBER ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON: "To be honest, to be kind. To earn a little, to spend a little less. To make upon the whole a family happier for his presence.  To renounce when that shall be necessary and not be embittered.  To keep a few friends but these without capitulation.  Above all, on the same grim condition, to keep friends with himself.  Here is a task for all that a man has of fortitude and delicacy."

I especially loved all the murals.  I started paying more attention to murals when I first got interested in Banksy, the British street artist.  (See previous posts about Banksy here and here.)  San Francisco has some wonderful "street art."

This next series is my favorite piece (or pieces) of art from the entire Outdoor Collection.  See what appear to be white birds flying in front of the awesome mural on the building below?
It is actually a "flock of books" suspended high above the sidewalk with bindings spread wide like wings:
But be careful walking underneath those books; they are dropping their messes all over the sidewalk:

"San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel.  Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal. 
That is the whole truth."
-William Saroyan