rtb, peg, and I made arrangements to go to the Met today and see the Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman & Designer exhibit. I expected it to be crowded but the lobby was so crowded I was thinking of bailing. Both rtb and peg have memberships so they could easily get a ticket for the day but I would have had to wait on an impossible line. Then rtb found out that she could get me in as her guest, so I turned back around and went to the exhibit with them.
As expected, there was a long line to get into the exhibit and it was difficult to get close to the drawings or even the sculptures unless you were willing to walk slowly around in a line. I just walked around behind everyone and glanced at most of the drawings and paintings. Occasionally I stopped to look closely at one – I was especially taken by the architecture.
When I got to the little shop at the end of the exhibit that carried catalogues, postcards, reproductions, scarves, etc., I noticed a postcard of a drawing of Cleopatra. I hadn't seen it in the exhibit but it was definitely my favorite. And the favorite of a lot of other people based on how many people stopped to admire it in the shop and said that.
Cleopatra in Bust Length
One room was drawings of figures that became part of the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel and up on the ceiling was a one-quarter scale reproduction of the ceiling. Since I'm never going to get to see the original I spent a lot of time looking up at the reproduction.
Michelangelo was truly a great draftsman and it's nice to see the process that eventually became a painting or sculpture – but it's the finished products that take my breath away.
Speaking of taking my breath away, we quickly looked around the gallery with the works of the 19th and 20th century masters (Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Picasso). I was mainly looking at one of my favorite artists, Van Gogh. I love the way he sees the world.
Shoes – 1888
Afterwards we went over to Before/On/After: William Wegman and California Conceptualism. Wegman is, of course, most famous for his photos and videos of Man Ray (one of the greatest models who ever lived) and the Weimaraners who came after like Fay Wray and her children. Wegman's art is playful and funny – filled with visual, aural, and written puns and it's more than just fun with Man Ray. There were 90 minutes of videos and I watched at least an hour's worth and enjoyed those both with or without Man Ray and laughed out loud a lot. Wegman was using videos in the early 70s and compared with what you can do today, the videos look rough and ancient in a way.
Man Ray is both patient and unamused as he yawns his way through some of Wegman's pieces. Whether Wegman is tossing a coin and turning Man Ray around depending if it's heads or tails or throwing bits of paper onto a prone Man Ray, who first tries to eat the paper, realizes it's not food, and then just puts his head down in defeat knowing he's not going to be able to stop Wegman. That dog had the patience of a saint, the face of an angel, and the eyes of an ancient soul.
Coin Toss – 1972
Snowflakes – 1973-74
Eyes of Ray – 1975-76
Two of the other artists I liked were John Baldessari's Ingres and Other Parables (1971) – an excerpt that read and felt like an actual ancient parable and Allen Ruppersberg's Al's Grand Hotel (1971),where he took over a home on Sunset Boulevard for about a month and sent out mailers with a brochure and letter. Each room had a name like the Jesus Room that had a large crucifix in it.
Maybe it's all the sunshine, but these LA artists seem so much more relaxed than NYC artists at that moment in time. They seemed to have made a move a little further than the other coast's post-post-war modernism.
By Carene Lydia Lopez