Artists I liked at the MoMa and why personal taste is important

Finally time has come for that article, I have been busy with work and my thesis and the rest of the time, well I got lazy. Honesty first right.

So today I am going to introduce you to a few artists I did not know and struck me during my visit of the MoMa. You may not like them like I did but I think it is always interesting to look around.

Since they were exhibited at the Museum I assume they are pretty known but as I always say “there are so many artists you just can’t know them all”. You can try of course. However for me you need to remember a few ones important for Art History who triggered something so you have some benchmarks. The rest it depends on what you like because if we are still being honest even if you work in the Cultural Field, your taste will always be the first criteria. It is natural, organic, human also it does not mean it cannot evolved.

Also taste is not always about something nice or pleasant. Let me give you an example : a few years ago I went to London, precisely the Tate Modern I think. During my visit I encountered the works of Francis Bacon. I hated it and that was what I liked about it. The idea that it gave me a reaction of repulsion and strangeness was an emotion, a very interesting one. Proof is years after I remember his name, the style of the painting almost the shapes of it, the way the room was displayed and the feeling it gave me.

I don’t like art that don’t make me feel anything. I think the worst comment you could make about a work of art is “boring”.

Actually there is an artist in the following who disturbed me and I found him interesting I’ll let you guess which one.

Just a reminder the way these artworks make me feel are personal and if you have a different opinion I, of course, agree to disagree.

Elie Nadelman, Man in the Open Air 1915Elie Nadelman, Man in the Open Air, 1915, bronze.

I liked thie one because I got two paradoxal feelings from it. The first one was a man, I dare to say English thanks to the bowler hat, who seems peacefull with his feet crossed and his arm resting on a tree. The other feeling was I don’t know why but much more related to the military, his posture, his shoulders, and the tree looking like a blunderbuss gun upside down. He looks like he is almost at the review in the morning.

Charles Burchfield, The night wind, 1918 Charles Burchfield, Pippin House, East Liverpool, Ohio, 1920Charles Burchfield, The Night Wind, 1918 (on top), Pippin House, East Liverpool, Ohio, 1920, watercolours and gouache.

These struck me because they almost look cartoony, and also scary. The two yellow spots in the first one look like eyes glowing in the dark, and the shape he gave the wind makes it look like a monster or a ghost with its arms closing on the house. It is the same with the second one with also the feeling of loneliness in this large empty space. The color scheme he used for both of the paintings reinforces those feelings as well. It is all in shades of dark, grey, beige, sand.

Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (Nets), 2002 Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (Nets), 2002, (detail)Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (Nets), 2002, Series of five etched metal sheets.

Here I was not struck by emotion, repulsion or else. I was astonished by the aesthetic of the work. It does not show accuratly in pictures but the metal shines so when you move in the room you see the shine moving. There is a glimpse of movement in the stillness, it is also metal but look so fragile almost ephemerical.

Here is what it said about the process of creation, the artist was passionated about lace :

They share a similar focus on negative space with her best-known sculptures, cast from the area around domestic objects and interiors. To make this series, five drawings of discarded lace were etched into metal sheets, which were then exposed to acid that dissolved the negative spaces in the designs. The resulting objects represent an inversion of the traditional etching process: no ink was used, and the plates themselves, usually the vehicle of the printed image, are the works of art.

Mona Hatoum, Silence , 1994Mona Hatoum, Silence, 1994, Glass

This one was really disturbing. You see the crib and first you think of plexiglass for the material or plastic. But then you realize it is glass, so fragile, so dangerous, for everyone around it. Here what the cartel said :

the translucent glass tubes evoke the medical paraphernalia and the human circulatory system; Hatoum has an ongoing interest in the vulnerability of the body. She has said, “I see the furniture as being very much about the body. It is usually about giving it support and comfort” but Silence is part of a series of furniture pieces the artist made “which are more hostile than comforting”. Here, as in much of her work, Hatoum seeks to strike a balance “between beauty and danger”.

Richter, October 18, 1977Richter, October 18, 1977, (Cell), Serie of fifteen paintings.

The serie is based on photographs of moments in the lives and deaths of four membres of the Red Army Faction (RAF), a German left-wing terrorist group that perpetrated a number of kidnappings and killings throughout the 1970’s. The title refers to the date on which the bodies of three principal RAF members were found in the cells of the German prison where they were incarcerated.

Officially they commited suicid but a lot of rumors say they were killed. Both ways this is a sad true story. THe room filled with these photographs shows that emotion, but also something else like they left a trace, the effect given to the subject shows like they are wiped out, forgotten but some part of them is still there like a blur.

Tom Wesselmann, Mouth 7, 1966Tom Wesselmann, Mouth 7, 1966, oil on shaped canvas.

Pink Lips, exhaling. All there is to say.

The last image could shock you and disturb you because it is violent.

Philip ZimbardoI don’t exactly understand how it works for this artworks, it was in a book the person who took the picture is Philip Zimbardo but I don’t know who made the book. It is a serie of photographs bewteen present and past, and it shows the violence among humans. It is impressive, disturbing and really welldone because it does not show voyeurism but information with the emotions that come with it.

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