Journey in the Abstract

This was my third trip to New York since the MoMA launched the Abstract Expressionists New York exhibit.    I had run out of time on my previous two trips, but was able to get there this time.  (And, horribly, it has closed so I feel terrible about going on and on.  But I'm going to anyway.)

I dig 'em.  The Abstract Expressionists, I mean.

Big and graphic and bold, they jazz me right up.  It was terrific to see all of these paintings together.  I forget, so accustomed to their images, so familiar with their forms, how shockingly foreign they were at their debut.  Forget that contemporary eyes might have gazed upon them and thought, "What the heck?" Puzzled, as Bert Cooper's employees were with his Rothko.

Gottlieb's Man Looking at Woman gave me pause.  I occurred to me that it would be logical for the eye to be drawn to that orange smudge in the middle of all that black and white, but my initial focus, and where my eye was stuck, was on the figures.  She seems amused.

Willem de Kooning Woman 1.  Really, we're not all that bad.

I was there Good Friday and the museum was packed.  A swarming museum is an idea that delights, but a reality that detracts.  There were people moving everywhere, looking and talking and listening to audio tours.  But people were visiting Pollack like a rock star.

One, Number 31 was magnetic.  Its presence in the next room made it hard to concentrate on the works at hand.  Pollock seduces.  I stood here for ten minutes at least and this painting could not have lent itself to picture takers any more than a life-sized cut out of William and Kate.

But art is a singular experience and as I pondered Shimmering Substance I thought, "That is exactly the impression I'd like my house to make."

Images from top, Jasper Johns Flag, Andy Warhol Campbell's Soup Cans and Mark Rothko Number 1. Shimmering Substance is Pollack as well.