On the Saturday of my New York trip, after a quick visit with the New York City Urban Sketchers (in Madison Square Park, where Fata Morgana by Teresita Fernández was installed) and a walk on the High Line (my first time!) I went to the new Whitney Museum of American Art. I was so excited! I spent about an hour on the 8th floor (starting at the top, working my way down), and spent some time with several paintings. One thing I love about the Whitney is that they tend to feature artists whose names are less well-known to non-art majors, or to some art majors because in my case I had not heard of Rice Periera or Oscar Bluemner, but I enjoyed spending time with their work.
Then I went out on the 8th floor terrace, which is when I fell in love with the new Whitney. Because of the relatively short buildings in the Meatpacking District and Chelsea, you can see layers and layers of New York Buildings. You can see a little bit of the Empire State Building. It's amazing.
I spent two hours on the 7th floor, discovering amazing woodcuts by Chiua Obata, and getting to see Jacob Lawrence's War Series (no text, still narrative, more painterly, more complex). I sketched the sad eyes of Arshile Gorky, and how Edward Hopper painted every upper floor window differently in Early Sunday Morning. Then I walked into the most beautiful museum gallery I've ever seen. I gasped! It was the total sum of the artwork, the way it was displayed, the size and scale of the room and the use of the size and scale, and the light coming from behind the wall where Lee Krasner's incredible painting was installed. Each room (or "chapter" of the exhibit - again with the narrative!) was named after an artwork in it, and this was titled New York, N.Y., 1955, after a painting by Hedda Sterne. The gallery really felt like the title.
Then I had a snack in preparation for the rest of it. I needed fuel before taking in all of that Pop art. The simplicity of some of that work astounds me. Some of my notes include:
“thinner underpainting under the big thick juicy strokes… it looks like the abyss down there,” (Wayne Thiebaud, Pie Counter)
“straight up red yellow blue” (James Rosenquist, Brook Street Trucks After Herman Melville)
“how is it so simple?” (Alex Katz, The Red Smile)
What occupied my mind for a good part of that day was: How do I go back? There is so much visual stimulation in New York, and I was able to appreciate it so fully being there by myself, I wasn't sure if I could be without it.
To be continued...