Saturday, November 15, 2008

More Uncharted Territory, Giorgio Morandi, and a Pleasant Moment

Another short visit has me looking forward to devoting at least a couple hours sometime next week! But this morning I arrived just as the museum opened, so that I could get in and out by 10:30am to go to work. Walking through the European Decorative Arts wing today, I came across some unexpected treasures: little figurines in one room, ornately decorated wallpapered period rooms, a recreation of a medieval courtyard...

Then it was on to the Giorgio Morandi exhibition and the Robert Lehman Collection. I wasn't particularly taken with Morandi's work, save for a few jewels that stood out against his mostly earth-toned, muted still-lifes. His limited palette and geometric subject matter show his meticulous attention to composition and form. I can appreciate his experimentation with impressionism and cubism — sometimes emulating his contemporary, Paul Cézanne, sometimes breaking convention and further abstracting his geometric subjects, and always playing with the interplay between objects, foreground and background.

For every ten still-life paintings, there was a landscape, or a self-portrait that drew me in — and there was one painting: Roses, 1917, which won my favoritism. It was a study of positive/negative contrast between the pink roses and the gray background in the upper half and the gray vase and pink table in the lower half. I enjoyed the limited palette of this painting, and its departure from Morandi's browns, beiges and greens that filled his other canvases.

Next, I ascended the staircase to the main level of the Lehman wing and stopped opposite the entrance by the railing overlooking the atrium below. I noticed that the facing wall, on the East end of the wing, was the same original brick exterior façade I saw in Petrie Court earlier this week... Standing there, taking in the building itself, I experienced a pleasant moment: I looked up and listened to the rain tip-tap the glass ceiling above, while the fountain in the atrium trickled and gurgled below. I turned around and absorbed the colorful Impressionist works of Gaughin, Van Gogh and Chagall, among others — a nice contrast to the grays and beiges of Morandi's work below. Though I was running out of time, I had to at least walk through the wing, since I hadn't been before.

The small spaces made the gallery seem like rooms in a home (as was the architect's purpose I'm sure). The second room was illuminated from above, and there I discovered a beautiful Tiffany dome, which had originally been installed at the Lehman mansion above the sixth floor landing (oh, just imagine living such a luxurious life!) So it was with every intention of returning that I left the Lehman wing and headed off to work.


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