Sunday, October 9, 2016

August travels - part 1B (High Line/ Whitney)

I had heard quite a bit about the High Line, and I managed to get down to the 14th St. entrance at 6 pm.  That gave me a bit of time to check out the High Line and then to get dinner before heading over to the Whitney.  I figured I might as well wait until 7 pm to get in on the Pay What You Want deal.

I had sort of thought that after the visit to the Whitney, I would then walk back on the High Line all the way to Hell's Kitchen, as I then wouldn't be all that far from my hotel (which was slightly west of the Port Authority Bus Terminal).  Not to give too much away, but my feet were absolutely killing me after another couple of hours walking through a museum (the third museum of the day) and it had gotten really dark by that point, so I ended up going back to the subway.  Also, while I liked the High Line, it was far more of a park with an amazing view, and much less of an efficient transportation corridor.  Chicago now has some elevated structure called The 606 (a few more details here) and its primary focus is on being an elevated bikeway and is a park second (not that I don't expect there to be some conflicts around these uses down the road (or bikepath).)  Cyclists aren't even allowed to ride their bikes on the High Line, which I thought was quite unfair until I went up there and saw that it really was not appropriate for going fast but rather for meandering and just taking in the view.  So without further ado, here are a few of my pictures of the High Line.


Traffic watching...

Everyone's gotta hustle, even on the High Line

As I said, the views are quite stunning, and perhaps on my next visit I will pace myself better so that I can walk the whole thing.  Anyway, I got to the Whitney at about 7:10 and the line was quite long see below).  It felt longer than the lines used to be at the old location, but maybe that is just my imagination.  It moved reasonably quickly, however.

I was there primarily to see the Stuart Davis exhibit, but I checked out the art on all the other floors as well.  I don't have the floor plan or anything, but it felt to me that this was a real wasted opportunity and that the Whitney actually has less space for its permanent collection than before.  It isn't quite as bad as the MCA in Chicago (which I feel is a completely unforgivable waste of the available footprint) but I was expecting they would have doubled the exhibit space, more akin to where the MoMA ended up.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Portals (detail), 2016

Susan Hall, New York Portrait, 1970

Urs Fischer, Standing Julian, 2015

It's a little hard to see from this photo, but Standing Julian is actually a larger-than-life-size candle in that doubles as a "portrait" of Julian Schnabel.  Over the course of the exhibit, it will burn down perhaps as low as the torso.  (I would expect the legs would not stand on their own and become a fire hazard, but perhaps they will brace them somehow if the candle actually does burn down that far.  Actually, it is only today that I noticed the fire extinguisher back by the window!)

By now, I was quite prepped for the Stuart Davis exhibit.  It really did cover all the major bases with quite a few of his early Paris scenes and then the major paintings held by the Met and the Whitney and the Brooklyn Museum.  I was pleased that this painting in the Cornell University collection was included, so that I don't have to road trip to Ithaca just to see one painting.  (I probably would never have gone to Lincoln, NE to see Arch Hotel, so that was another bonus.)

Stuart Davis, Place des Vosges No. 2, 1928
Stuart Davis, Arch Hotel, 1929

The major paintings were all there.  For some reason, The Mellow Pad (owned by the Brooklyn Museum) didn't grab me as much as Report from Rockport (owned by the Met), perhaps because it felt like marginally more controlled chaos.

Stuart Davis, Report from Rockport, 1940

The Whitney itself owns two of the more important paintings in the show -- Owh! in San Pao and The Paris Bit.

Stuart Davis, Owh! in San Pao, 1951

Stuart Davis, The Paris Bit, 1959

I was impressed that they had managed to borrow Stuart Davis paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, and even the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.  The latter museum had requested that no photos be taken of their painting (Pochade), not that this stopped most visitors and the guards seemed fairly indifferent, but I will respect their wishes here.  I actually bought Pochade on a refrigerator magnet on my trip to Madrid, though I haven't been able to turn that up.  One day...

In terms of paintings that were completely unfamiliar to me, I think my favorite was For Internal Use Only from the Wake Forest University museum in Winston-Salem.

Stuart Davis, For Internal Use Only, 1944-45

One thing that I particularly liked about the second part of the exhibit is that it focused on the serial nature of Davis's art -- how he kept returning to compositions and reorganizing them and changing the color scheme.  I could only fit three of four into this photo (along with the disembodied arm of another art tourist).

The exhibit ended appropriately enough with Fin, which was Davis's last painting (itself in a somewhat incomplete state with masking tape still on the canvas).  I thought it was quite a privilege to see this in person, since it is in a private collection and is only loaned out on very special occasions.

Stuart Davis, Fin, 1962-64

As I mentioned before, the exhibit has closed in New York and will be reopening fairly soon at the National Gallery in D.C.  I hope to make it down there, but that is by no means guaranteed.

At the gift shop, I didn't pick up the catalog (In Full Swing), mostly because I have so many other ones covering his work, though it does look like a pretty decent one, and if I ever see one at a super discount, I'll probably bite.  I did get a small pin inspired by his art, and I probably should have gotten some hipster socks, but I passed.  (Maybe just as well, given how much I ended up having to carry back from Chicago.)  I was kind of astonished that they had quite a few copies of the Archibald Motley catalog that had gone out of print, so I went back and forth and finally grabbed one.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was part of an unannounced sale.  Score!

All in all, it was a very enjoyable visit, though a bit exhausting overall.  I made it back to the hotel and read a bit and got ready for another half day in New York.

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