After the World War, the masters from different art phalanxes re-established a new standard of contemporary art in the United States, a land full of “machine civilization.” Among them, Duchamp was excited to say: “New York itself is a work of art.”
New York is an absolute newcomer compared to those ancient cities that have been called “the history of thousands of years”. It has no history, if any, that it tries to bring all the history and culture of the world into the bag. In such a mixed and contradictory city, it has the dirtiest subway and the most luxurious apartments; it can accommodate all kinds of freaks, and it can also win the unparalleled genius. In this melting pot, culture is colliding and producing every day. If you want to quickly learn American art, there are several places in New York that must go.
“treasure box” metropolis
If the American art museum is “stars”, then the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the brightest star in the night sky. And when you look at the star at a close distance, you will be amazed at its splendour. As one of the world’s four major art galleries, the Metropolitan Museum of New York has more than 2 million pieces of artifacts and art, covering cultures and art from all over the world and from different historical periods. It is an encyclopedic museum.
The origins of the Metropolitan Museum of Art can be traced back to an American Independence Day celebration in 1866 in Boulogne, Paris. John Jay, the grandson of the first US Supreme Court justice, declared that it was time for Americans to establish their own art museum. The promoters at the time included businessmen, wealth managers, outstanding artists and thinkers. Finally, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened in 1872.
At present, the museum is located at No. 1000, 82nd Street, Fifth Avenue, New York. The total length of the building is about 400 meters, covering an area of 180,000 square meters. It is 20 times larger than the site in the 1880s. The existing collection is over 3 million pieces, with Central Park. The American Museum of Natural History and the Planetarium on the west side echo each other.
In addition to the five main exhibition halls – European paintings, American paintings, primitive art, medieval paintings and Egyptian antiques, the Metropolis has nearly 300 showrooms, large and small – including costumes, Greek and Roman art, primitive art, weapons and armor. European sculpture and decorative arts, ancient Near Eastern art, medieval art, Far Eastern art, Islamic art, Chinese art, prints, drawings and photographs, 20th century art, etc., are still enriched.
When I first visited the metropolis, faced with such a large number of artworks, there was always a feeling of lack of oxygen after excessive excitement.
In addition to the shocks brought by the large number, huge span and excellent quality, it is admirable that it restores the ecology of art as much as possible. So, you can see not only a statue, but also an Egyptian temple; therefore, you can see not only a painting, but also a room for painting. As a viewer, you can immerse yourself in it and imagine the past.
Chinese tourists to the metropolis must see the Guangzhao Temple Yuan Dynasty mural “Pharmacist Change” originally located in Hongdong, Shanxi. In 1929, the monks in the temple sold the murals to two Americans for 1,600 yuan, and the proceeds were used to repair the temples. “China: Mirror Flower Water Fashion Show” once used this as the main exhibition hall. The exhibition is directed by film director Wang Jiawei as the artistic director, presenting the influence of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion and exploring how China has catalyzed fashion imagination for centuries.
This exhibition has caused a lot of discussion, and many people criticized the metropolis for distorting the image of “China.” But Andrew Burton, curator of the Museum of Fashion, explained: “In a way, what we want to show is not the real China, but a fantasy about China, a kind of mutual sharing between East and West.” Flowers, water moon, we can see the different bloom patterns of China here.
In addition, the Metropolis has also held many theme exhibitions related to China, such as “Qin and Han Civilization”, “Magic Creatures: Chinese Silk and Painted Animal Exhibition”, “Ink Painting: Chinese Writing Art”, “Silk Bamboo: Chinese Music and Art” At present, the exhibition “Xishan Endless: Chinese Landscape Painting Tradition”.
Located at The Met Cloisters in the North End of Manhattan, New York, the building is an old castle with many building materials from five medieval monasteries in southern France and Italy, even the pottery pots in the botanical gardens. And plant samples have also restored the medieval flavor. This idea comes from American philanthropist and collector John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller’s life has been closely linked to the monastery branch. Among his series of donations, the most famous are the six “unicorn” tapestries, woven in the 16th century in the Netherlands, depicting the scenes of medieval hunters hunting unicorns.
The monastery is full of sacred atmosphere, and what kind of spark will it be when the sacred and fashion collide? In 2018, the exhibition “The Celestial Body: Fashion and Catholic Imagination”, which explores how religious images and symbolic meanings influence contemporary haute couture and ready-to-wear designs, reveals a corner of the answer.
At the Brauer branch on Madison Avenue, less than one kilometer from the main venue of Fifth Avenue – the famous inverted tower-shaped building designed by Marcel Breuer, the flow of people is obviously much less. The curator is Sheena Wagstaff, former curator of the Tate Modern, under his leadership, dedicated to presenting contemporary art. “Everything is connected: art and conspiracy” is on display here. The exhibition boldly explored the relationship between art and politics from 1969 to 2016.
In 2014, the Whitney Museum of Art moved out of this Fauvist building, and the Metropolitan Blauer will also move out in 2020. On September 23, New York time, the Metropolis announced the transfer of the Brauer Building to the Frick Collection.
“American Style” Whitney Museum of Art
The Whitney Museum of Art was founded in 1931 and moved from the old site of Brauer to the new building. It is a nine-storey FRP structure and a 220,000-square-foot building designed by the famous architect Renzo Piano, located on the Hudson River in Chelsea, Manhattan.
The founder of the museum, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, was born in the famous Vanderbilt family, and his father was a maritime and railroad tycoon. The establishment of the Whitney Museum of Art, the Metropolis played a catalytic role. In 1929, Whitney donated 500 pieces of American modern art to the Metropolis, but was rejected because “the modern art of the United States has no collectible value.” Later, Whitney’s ambitions changed from “making American modern art into the highest art palace” to “being an art museum related to the future of the United States”.
When the public praised her foresight and enthusiasm for modern and contemporary art, few people knew her suffering. The original intention of Whitney’s investment in the art museum was actually to find a distracting cause after her child’s abortion and marriage breakdown, and to get out of the pain. Gradually, she also truly discovered the enthusiasm and the life is more complete.
Perhaps because of the sympathy and dissatisfaction with the female situation, at the beginning of Whitney’s preparation, she had the ambition to support female artists, not only their works, but also set up special art education courses. Among the Whitney artists “clubs”, there are several famous female artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe. But at the same time, Whitney has always advocated “the first artist status, the second gender identity”, and never put the name of female art in the mouth.
In the first half of the 20th century, the works of female artists were only considered “second-rate” at the time, but from the exhibition “About American Culture and Whitney Collections from 1900 to 1960”, we can see the condensed theme in this historical theme. Next, it presents the works of many female artists, but also shows the multidimensional face of modern women. Whitney’s ambitions have basically been realized, but with the replacement of personnel for decades, the concept of operation of the museum has also fluctuated. In the 20th century, even groups visited the Whitney Museum to protest its unfair treatment of female artists.
Currently, the Whitney Museum of Art has launched the retrospective of the first large-scale pop artist Andy Warhol in New York City in the past 30 years. “Andy Warhol: From A, to B, and then back.” In this retrospective, you can see the “Mr. Chairman Mao” series of screen printing prints. Earlier, Andy Warhol’s painting “President Mao” was auctioned at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong and sold for 98.5 million Hong Kong dollars (about 38.81 million yuan), refreshing the Asian auction record of Western contemporary art. Whitney’s exhibition is undoubtedly a testament to his position in the market and art history.
MoMA: an art gallery that can dream
Compared to the Whitney Museum’s focus on American modern art, MoMA, which also loves modern and contemporary art, explores a broader field. The Museum of Modern Art, located on 53rd Street in West Manhattan, was founded in 1929. The main sponsors include Abby Aldridge Rockefeller (the wife of Little Rockefeller), Mary Kun Sullivan and Lily Bu. Rees, the main manager and funder, is the Rockefeller family.
In MoMA’s opening instructions, two revolutionary ideas were printed on paper:
Past museums have focused on past collections, and MoMA is committed to judging contemporary art;
In the past, art only included sculpture and painting in a narrow sense, and MoMA recognized the photography in modern art, as well as the architectural, industrial design, and stage design in the design as the category of collection art.
Therefore, if you go to MoMA now, you can not only see many master paintings in the annals of history, but also see the sculpture exhibition. “If anything is a sculpture, why do you still have to do sculpture? Artist’s choice: Pete · Fischli” “Constantin Brancusi Sculpture Exhibition”; Architectural Art Exhibition “Pots Isek Kyletz: Urban Dream” “Towards a Solid Utopia: Yugoslav Architecture of 1948-1980”; Dance Art Exhibition “Jadeson Dance Theater: Dance Does Not Stop”; Performance Art Exhibition “Bruce Nauman: The Behavior of Disappearance”.
There are so many good things here, but there are also many friends who spoke to me about the collection of MoMA’s collections: a modern and contemporary masterpiece that makes people’s eyes shine, so they hang on the wall like this; no focus, no rhythm, simple lighting. In fact, this also reflects the momentum of MoMA from the side.
The MoMA PS1 has always been at the forefront of the vanguard, and it has a more wild atmosphere than the slightly ruled atmosphere of the main venue. Bruce Nauman’s exhibition is better released here. In addition, it has a “sky meditation room” by James Turrel. The roof is a square hollow, inside which is temporarily isolated from the outside world. You can sit, lie down, watch the sun, watch the clouds, watch the stars, or simply dream. Art is sometimes so simple.
The three art galleries have different orientations, but they all play an important role in the art history of the United States and even the world. They have outlined a beautiful American vision – new immigrants, new trends, new standards.
In addition to these art galleries, there are visitors to the “Year of Life”, as well as visitors’ love for art – no matter how many gold coins they have in their pockets, they can’t stop a free heart.