Blue Moon Friday. That’s right, a second chance this month to see that spacious pearl rise and reflect more glowing light to love by. Due to the calendar we’ve concocted and the actual lunar cycle, we get a bonus full moon today – happens every 2.7 years. Ok, so that’s mildly interesting. A good time to concoct a love potion perhaps.
This month’s two-moon tango reminds me of Blue Elegy by Robert Motherwell. I did a double take on this one. Only a pair of marks here, not an eye pleasing threesome. It’s repeated but not repetition. Just tandem. Why?
Powerful strokes that were originally the work of chance and subconscious, are now Motherwell’s signature mark. The strong downward stroke with the affixed oval shape (art critics say rectilinear and ovoid, ugh). He did about two hundred paintings in his Elegies series, mainly this same repeating mark in graphic black. A protest against the atrocities of the Spanish Civil war, as Picasso did in Guernica. See one here. http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/collections/collection-online/show-full/piece/?object=84.3223&search=&page=&f=Title
But this Elegy’s in blue. Takes on celestial feel instead of the dark, stagnated fury of the black ones. The stroke now softened by sky blue and gilded by a gold top line. This mark usually told of senseless death and war’s vengeful repeating. Now, it speaks of something more heavenly and I think more hopeful. The gift of second chance.
You struggle to say something important but you can’t quite get it out. You try again. You do something brilliant and then try it again – fear of failure be damned. You attempted life, but it didn’t quite work out. You look up to see that second beautiful chance you thought you’d never get.
Blue moon shining.
Remember, the whirlwind that swept Dorothy to Oz? Well, you will experience that same feeling as you enter the rotunda of the Guggenheim and behold the 128 swirling pieces of the Maurizio Cattelan exhibit hanging from the ceiling. He’s very fond of taxidermy so beware the dead horse hanging almost eye level as you buy your tickets. How else could you explain your hoof-to-the-eye shiner to the gang at happy hour?
Kandinsky – not high on my art must see list. Primarily because I really didn’t know anything about him or too much about “modern” art or the Bauhaus school, which he taught at before the Nazi’s closed it in 1933. However the Guggenheim has a whole floor devoted to him that might just turn you into a fan. You wouldn’t know it at first glance, but a tremendous amount of planning went into the painting below. It’s the first time that an artist didn’t attempt to paint representationally.
“The sun melts all of Moscow down to a single spot that, like a mad tuba, starts all of the heart and all of the soul vibrating.”
There are perhaps 3-4 color studies he did before painting this as well as a dozen or so sketches which show him trying to figure out placement of the elements. You can actually feel him struggling with what he wants to express and having a hell of a time working it out. I love it. He was trying to capture the soul of his native Moscow in an entirely new art language, abstraction.
I’m not the only one who does a napkin sketch of my life and know it isn’t quite how I wanted it to look. Struggling to “figure it out.” In the end he solved his problem by surrounding the core of the painting with a swath of white cloud. White space. I’ll take another serving of white space, please.
Also at the MOMA in a back gallery on the fifth floor is this monumental Picasso. It’s so huge, the women are likely bigger than you. No small feat for my SigO who is 6 foot 6. The thing that stops you about this painting is this delicate pink color like cotton candy, wrapping the ladies from floor to ceiling. It’s inviting and fleshy. These prostitutes are inviting and fleshy. Their stare is both a challenge . . . and an invitation. Although Picasso is playing around with the cubism thing here and there in this portrait, I can’t help but think this is a valentine to these women. The background is white and blue, cloud-like to me, and his normal thick black lines are thinner giving these women an ethereal, angelic nature. And then there is that whore with a black eye.
In contrast to these figures is a portrait of his peacefully sleeping lover seen at the Guggenheim in the Thannhauser Collection. Instead of the angular lines above, he is sweeping in his strokes. Her arms are wide arcs, quite different from those sharp elbows above. These curves offer an embrace, a hug to her. The violet color is so delicate you can almost smell the lavender wafting off her as she sleeps. She was 17 when they met and began their secret love affair. Secret. . . because he was already married.