Museum of Modern Art

Edification value  
Entertainment value  
Should you go?  
Time spent 221 minutes (3 hours, 41 minutes)
Best thing I saw or learned It’s nigh impossible to pick a “best” at MoMA. But I feel a special love for Mark Rothko’s melancholy, soothing No. 16 (Red, Brown, and Black) from 1958. 

Museum of Modern Art, New York

UPDATE APRIL 2021: This review is obsolete, as it was written before MoMA opened its most recent expansion (which I talk about a bit in the review below). I will hopefully publish an updated review…soon. A lot of my take from a few years ago is still pertinent.

The walls at the Museum of Modern Art don’t meet the floors. It’s a minuscule  detail. I feel certain many visitors don’t even consciously notice it. I’m not sure why the architect did that. But think about the words that describe the collection:  “groundbreaking,” “earth-shattering.”  I like to think they decided MoMA’s treasures are too wonderful to touch something as mundane as a floor. So the art, and the walls on which the art is hung, don’t.

More mundanely, I also wonder whether (and how) they dust all those wall-floor cracks. Continue reading “Museum of Modern Art”

Judd Foundation


Edification value  4/5
Entertainment value  4/5
Should you go?  3/5
Time spent 104 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned Donald Judd’s dining table looks exactly like Donald Judd designed a dining table.

Utterly simple wood with chairs that seamlessly, create a box when its 14 chairs were pushed in. It reminded me of one of those wooden cube puzzles where you remove one piece and the whole thing falls apart— symmetric perfection broken.

And it is the exact size of the windows in the huge, open, “eating” level of the building.

In 1968 the artist Donald Judd bought a building in then-dilapidated SoHo. Five stories high, the building was used for light industry — small factories that my guide did not call “sweatshops” but that probably were.  Indeed, to this day some of the floors retain holes that show where an apparel manufacturer bolted down sewing machines.

Donald Judd Foundation

Judd, his wife Julie Finch, and their newborn son Flavin moved into the place, and Judd proceeded to remake the four upstairs floors to his own design. Judd changed floors and ceilings, installed fittings and fixtures, and designed both art and furniture specifically for the place. He also installed art from his friends and fellow SoHo Bohemians. He made the place their home, but he also made their home a work of art. Continue reading “Judd Foundation”

Fisher Landau Center for Art

**UPDATE AS OF 16 MARCH 2018.** I’m saddened to learn that the Fisher Landau Center for Art has closed.  It was off the beaten path and kept eccentric hours but I really liked that place when I reviewed it last July, and I’m sorry I only got to go once.  I’m leaving the review below, but please don’t try to visit it. 

Edification value  3/5
Entertainment value 4/5 
Should you go?  4/5
Time spent 52 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned Many of the pieces on display made me smile, one made me laugh out loud.

Diptych, Fisher Landau Center, Queens
Ricci Albenda, “Diptych,” 2005. Acrylic on wood panel.

I don’t know why I chuckled at a painting of the word “diptych.” It’s a fairly mild art joke. I was just enjoying the museum, rounded the corner, and appreciated the cognitive dissonance.

Fisher Landau Center for Art, Queens New York

The Parachute Harness Factory Museum

Here’s another novel adaptive reuse of a non-museum building into a museum.  The Fisher Landau Center for Art resides in a former parachute harness factory in a random and as-yet ungentrified part of Long Island City.   Emily Fisher Landau originally bought the building just to warehouse her huge collection of modern and contemporary art, but realized some years back that the place had character, and could in fact show some of that art off to the public.  So she had it painted white, created airy, beautifully lit, columned interiors, and opened it for free to anyone intrepid enough to find their way there. Continue reading “Fisher Landau Center for Art”

Whitney Museum of American Art

Edification value  4/5
Entertainment value  
Should you go?  
Time spent 176 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned Charles Demuth and Elsie Driggs Juxtaposed at the Whitney MuseumA juxtaposition of two pieces: My Egypt, by Charles Demuth, and Pittsburgh, by Elsie Driggs. Both from 1927, they present similar and yet extremely divergent visions of industrialized landscapes.  One is clearly prettier than the other, and yet, as Driggs said of her grey smokestacks and pipes, “This shouldn’t be beautiful. But it is.”

The Met’s Worst Mistake?

The Whitney Museum of American Art.  Yet another art museum in our saturated city. Why does it exist?  Mainly because the Met in the late 1920s didn’t care to own a vast collection of work by living American artists.  Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney had offered the Met her collection, with an endowment, even.  Yes, the Met’s Board wouldn’t take the art even though they stood to get paid to do so.

It reminds me of the scene in the movie “Pretty Woman” where Julia Roberts gets treated miserably by the snooty store lady on Rodeo Drive, only to return later looking fabulous to point out what a humongous mistake said snooty lady had made.  Which raises the question, which museum is Richard Gere? 

Anyway, I will say that if any member of the Whitney family now or in the future offers to pay me to take, say, a Hopper or a Rothko, I will gladly accept that offer.

Continue reading “Whitney Museum of American Art”