Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Last Saturday night I was invited to attend a private viewing at the MoMA. It is for a series of events called Member Nights with UBS, (who happens to be the sponsor). Walking through a much energized crowds that varied between clusters of young and old, artists and art admirers, business people (from UBS) and art (fund) supporters, it immediately gave a sense that it was going to be an impressive night. The front entrance was filled with some gathered inner circles that were just awaiting the missing links to their complete entourage. Upon entering the museum, it becomes apparent that the lights had been dimmed to create an atmosphere for a twilight event. The lobby, which on a regular day is filled with packed lines parallel to one another, had been replaced with a considerably large square bar lined with all the types of liquor that were available for your choosing. But that was not the more notable factor as of yet. Along the right hand side, was a line of attractive young men dressed in their dapper black serving attire, holding trays of wines, reds and whites, beers and bubbly readily poured for your taking.

The line for the coat check was not very organized, apart from this initial confusing factor, it suddenly dawned on me that some of the people were dressed for a black tie event. I suddenly felt a little under dressed when prior to leaving my apartment I had wondered if my outfit was too ostentatious to wear to the MoMA. Nonetheless I thought I was fine since after the museum, there were dinner plans and drinks with friends, and up until that point, I did not feel as though I should've embellished my outfit any further. I looked at my companion for some comfort, and he responded with the most astute observation, “they must be the UBS people.” And then it made sense--having anticipated the private viewing privileges for the evening, I had forgotten that this was a sponsored event by a very prestigious Swiss bank.  I should have understood when I noticed the procession of waiters looking just a smidgen more dressed up than my party and I.

Notwithstanding, we took our drinks after we were able to pass through the monstrous line for the food, and decided to mix in with the crowd for a while to get the feel of the evening ahead. (Oh and did I mention there was a long table with a beautiful spread of , breads, cheeses, grapes, and marmalades, yum, if only there wasn’t the price of waiting on some ridiculous line in exchange for a handful of grub (no plates, just napkins). There was a DJ spinning some good tunes, mixing it up with some cool new wave, (The Cure) blended with some downtempo beats. I was starting to feel relaxed and festive, while overlooking the garden designed by the Japanese architect, Yoshio Taniguchi and taking pleasure in having the view of the large panoramic painting by Miro` on my left hand side and a glass of sparking in my right hand.

Shortly thereafter, we decided to finish our drinks and move onwards to the point of the evening—the art!  The plan was to hit the Martin Kippenberger Retrospective: The Problem Perspective first, and then swing over to the rest of the exhibitions. Having read Holland Cotters’ review of Kippenberger’s lifetime work on the Times, it got me enthused to experience the collection in person. The artist’s forte is to playfully challenge the concept of art and its contextual relationship to our day-to-day functions and disfunctions. It is definitely worth a peak. Kippenberger’s work is quite sizable, ranging from sculptures, photography, paintings, and of course conceptual art. For example, one wall had easily 60-70 paintings of just emotionally charged portraits, in which it looked as though he had been practicing a particular technique during this phase in his career.

I was amazed and admittedly somewhat envious by just how much this man had created in his 44 years minus his early life. I started calculating in my head how long it took to complete each painting. It reminded me of a John Updike interview, the writer, with Charlie Rose, who said “If I don’t write everyday, I feel guilty, like I don’t know how to justify my place in this planet.” I find such ethos immensely both inspiring and humbling. It reiterates that serious play produces serious work. Needless to say, it incited me to embrace more focus in my daily practice. And Kippenberger, who once lived in his car for some time, now has two floors of his retrospective work dedicated to him at the MoMA. Amazing!

As we emerged from one floor to the next, the partying crowd beneath us got rowdier paired with the blaring music. We decided to take a mini break and surrender to hunger, which meant enduring the turtle moving line. It wasn’t that bad finally, it was free food and wine after all, and we are in a recession.

Next, we hit the architecture exposition, which by the way if you are ever there, I highly recommend you watch the short film about an affair to remember between the Empire State Building and the Chrysler—I was tickled and amused.

We continued on to my favorite floor in the museum, where some of my favorite artists are housed next to one another. It was most exceptionally refreshing to peacefully ponder through the masterpieces of Picasso, Kandinsky, Mondrian, and Miro`, accompanied by other less known brilliant artists that have blessed us with their work. I felt extremely spoiled at this point. That said, I definitely recommend signing up for the MoMA membership, it is only $75 dollars, which if you look at it, you have free access to the museum for an entire year, plus only an additional $5 dollars per guest admission, rather $20 dollars each! And then you have these types of member’s events only—catered with music and private viewing all inclusive, among other fun field events such as art movie screenings, talks and lectures. It is certainly a fruitful list to consider. Not knowing what to expect, it transpired to be a most pleasant night. Now doesn’t that compelling argument make you wonder why most of us don’t take advantage of what the city has to offer more often? After all this is New York, the culture center of the New World, now that we still own right?
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