February 03, 2008

Bigger than ourselves

White and black

At the Museum of Cool Contemporary Art, part of the fun was looking at the people who were looking at the art. Some would study each work seriously but briefly, while others moved rapidly, stopping only when they came to certain pieces. One couple kept turning to each other with incredulous looks. One young girl with her father was so excited when she came to a Rothko that she yelled to him across the room, disturbing the church-like hush that usually fills the space. The people moving through the museum, whether they were walking up staircases with glass on either side, or lying on black couches that can be seen from above, or moving their bodies through a room filled with crazy sculptures, became part of the art, part of the experience.

The one difficult part about this museum is that the art comes in all kinds of textures, and I find it hard to resist touching rough fabric or shiny metal. I could feel the eyes of the security guards watching me every time I edged near something woven or hammered: they knew I had sticky fingers, just dying to transfer some of my skin oil onto these precious works. Somehow, I managed to restrain myself. I wandered about for hours, without getting kicked out, and even saw only a fraction of the museum. It's a big museum with clean line and big empty spaces — long corridors of space, big white walls of space —room for all the art that hasn't yet been created.

Daughter and father

Father and daughter, looking at a Rothko.

11 comments:

Scrivener said...

Oh, love the father and daughter looking at a Rothko! I hadn't really thought about it, but with my copy of Rothko hanging in the living room, I wonder how my kids will react when I finally get them up to that awesome modernist museum in New York?

traveller one said...

Great photos!!! And interesting observations. I love going to museums/galleries alone and just looking. I'm jealous of your time in this museum :)

Cloudscome said...

I love how your words and your photos show the viewers becoming part of the art. You are so right about the spaces, the textures and the potential of the blank walls.

They ought to come up with a way for people to touch the art without harming it. It really IS part of the experience that we are missing. Maybe someone will invent a kind of photography that includes the texture of the subjects. Or a force field that negates the skin oil/dirt without blocking the senses?

BrightStar said...

Lovely shots! You really captured the moment with the dad and daughter.

It's funny... there is this ecumenical chapel in Houston made by Rothko -- all of the walls have field pantings in black-ish tones -- and it's so peaceful in there. What a contrast to the excitement of the child! I love that someone would get so excited about seeing paintings.

Amy said...

I love this post! As one who works in a contemporary art museum, I know that feeling of wanting to touch and not being able to. Texture is the biggest reason I continue to read the newspaper and not read online. I like feeling the paper. You have a great blog.

angelfeet said...

When you were writing about the museum the other day, I was put in mind of the people that you see in such places, so I'm glad you've posted about it.

Lovely to think of that little girl so amazed by the Rothko.

Sue said...

Lovely. So lovely.

kathy a. said...

love how you caught the interest and excitement of the people seeing the art. especially the daughter -- she may have been bored with everything she powered past until she saw the rothko, but that one piece caught her.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law are both artists, but they're west coast artists, by which I mean they have only been to Big City Like No Other one time. They would just about explode if they could see a Rothko in real life... My mother-in-law gave me a Rothko print when I first moved into this house, and it's always had a place of honor!

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Cool museum shots! I love museums!

((I've been posting lots of museum shots on my city blog.))

They just reopened the DIA.

Silver Creek Mom said...

I would love to touch some of the Art I see. I very seldom get to go to Art Museums. BUT when I do it is a HUGE Treat. I know how hard it is to keep our hands in our pockets.

Hugs