Friday, July 13, 2012

Untitled Works

Note to burgeoning artists: If you want your contemporary artwork featured in a museum, don't title it. Leaving something untitled basically guarantees its success. That's science.

It's been years since I've written about going to a museum. Seems like a random thing to think about, but I love them; I used to revel in picking out my favorite pieces and documenting them here. (Check them out in these posts of yore: Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art in NYC; Le Louvre in Paris; the National Portrait Gallery and Tate Modern in London. Side note: Please ignore that Blogspot went inexplicably ape-shit on my formatting.)

Since that time, I've gone to many museums (Seattle was chock full of 'em!), but ne'er have I talked about it here. Time to change that.

Last night, Jon and I had a semi-spontaneous date adventure into the city, which was really about taking advantage of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's Thursday half-price happy hours, and not so much about us having romantic fun times. But looking at art is always fun, right? You betcha.

Which leads me to the best part: sharing stuff I like with you, my four faithful readers.

Currently at the SFMOMA is an exhibit by crazy genius, Cindy Sherman—an acclaimed photographer who has been working since the 70's creating vibrant and shocking "self portraits" as social / art / pop culture commentary.



OK, this one isn't so shocking. Part of a series called Film Stills (this one is Untitled Film Still 58) Sherman created dozens and dozens of character portraits, which showcased the clich├ęd cinematic roles for women. Of the whole series, this one stood out to me as the most vulnerable and beautiful. Perhaps it was because the rest of her 150-photo exhibit focused on work like this:



Clockwise from top: Untitled 299 (1994); Untitled 408 (2002); Untitled 405 (2000); Untitled 205 (1989)

This is the tip of the iceberg. The portraits are all giant, breathtaking and unnerving. She uses elaborate costumes, make-up, wigs, and props to depict stereotypical "white women" and satirize classical portrait art.

Cindy Sherman seems ageless. She might be a ghost.

Since portraits (photography or not) are usually not my slice of banana bread, I was pleased to find the abstract / expressionist floors. Here are a few of the paintings that stood out:

Untitled 1957 by Clyfford Still


Untitled 2010 and 2005 by Richard Aldrich

Whose Blues by Leo Valledor

Untitled (ANT 154) 1961 by Yves Klein

Those look more like me, right? I can never get enough of beautifully chaotic abstract art.

Next week, Jon and I are going to New York City for vacation, and I plan to visit the MOMA again, as well as a few new museums, if I can manage it. And now that we're moving down to Orange, we'll have access to all the wonderful museums that LA has to offer.

When I was in Seattle, living by myself and fortunate enough to have at least one friend in the area, I would go to the Frye Art Museum (which is always free!) to browse around the small exhibits, see a movie screening, or listen to a guest lecturer. It was remarkably therapeutic, and I loved it. When I got busier, I stopped going; I'm not sure I went one time in the last year I was living up there. Sad. I was so very grateful for the mental clarity and peace of mind that museum gave me. Go there, if you're ever in Seattle. It's wonderful.

Speaking of which: Does anyone have any favorite museums? How about particular pieces of art that you've seen in person and can't quite get out of your head? Are there any places I need to make sure I visit in NYC? How about LA? Are there any happy hours or other tricks to getting in for cheap, or free?

While you ponder that, I'll leave you with this wonderful display by Barry McGee, who could come over and draw caricatures and cartoons for me all day long.



* Art work images property of their respective artists
* Barry McGee display image property of SFMOMA, via their Instagram

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