MOMA was the first art gallery I visited on my trip to New York. We took advantage of the UNIQLO Free Friday Nights, which gives visitors free entry to MOMA between 4.00 and 8.00pm. Of course this meant it was very busy, but that added to the atmosphere and I feel I got to see the works on display well, and enjoy them.
The collection is very impressive, and includes works by Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, to name but a few! Below are some of my favourite works from the collection.
Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night (1889)
This was the painting I was most looking forward to seeing on my trip to New York, and it was definitely the highlight of my visit to MOMA. There was quite a crowd around this painting, but I managed to get to the front and spent a while admiring Van Gogh’s brushwork. It was amazing to see this familiar artwork in person, to see how richly textured the paint is in some places, while in other parts of the painting the canvas is still visible. The sense of movement created by the swirling brushwork makes this a powerful and expressive image. Seeing this painting in person was a very emotional experience, and I was quite moved.
Georges Seurat, Evening, Honfleur (1886)
I enjoy Georges Seurat’s pointillist technique, and I loved that it was used here not only for the painting but for the frame too! The application of tiny dots gives the painting an interesting, shimmering technique from afar, the dots are only visible up close. I love the technique of pointillist works, but I also enjoyed the use of colour in this work – particularly the pale sky and the pink tones in the clouds.
Pablo Picasso Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon (1907)
Another painting with a big crowd! It was great to see this famous Picasso painting in person, especially as it has played such a pivotal role in the development of Modernist styles. A key Cubist work, it highlights the fragmentation and flattened perspective that were to become so characteristic of the movement. Picasso’s interest in African art can also be seen in the use of masks, which give an eerie atmosphere to the painting.
Naum Gabo, Head of A Woman (c.1917-1920, after a work of 1916)
This was one of the works I spotted wandering around the gallery, and thought was very interesting. At first glance, I thought it was sculpted from paper but it is actually composed of celluloid and metal. It is displayed high up in a corner, giving the impression that this woman is looking down at the viewer.
Frida Kahlo, Fulang-Chang and I (1937)
I greatly admire Frida Kahlo’s work, and this was the first work of hers I have seen in person. I love the intensity of her self-portraits, and how distinctive her style is. I feel her self-portraits are very striking and unusual, and give a real sense of her inner life. There was a quote from the artist on the information panel that I feel sums up her work very well: “I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.” The frame was also very unusual, it was made some years after the painting, from glass which was then painted.
Roy Lichtenstein, Drowning Girl (1963)
Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein’s works and their use of Ben Day dots are a familiar part of pop culture. I was surprised by the large scale of this work, but not by the melodramatic subject matter! This is an early work, and is based on imagery from a DC Comic. This use of popular imagery increased the appeal of his work. He not only sourced subject matter from comics and advertisements, but also copied commercial printing techniques creating a playful style.
Anselm Kiefer, Wooden Room (1972)
This large scale work caught my eye in one of the galleries for its masterful rendering of the texture of the wood. The unusual medium – charcoal on burlap – also added to its tactile appeal. The ‘wooden room’ is the artist’s attic studio, and this added to the interest of the work for me as it is such a personal and creative space. This, combined with the high level of skill evident in the work, made it very memorable and engaging.
Edward Ruscha, OOF (1962)
I enjoyed this work because it is good fun, something Ruscha has acknowledged when speaking about his work at this time: “I was interested in monosyllabic word sounds that seemed to have a certain comedic value to them.” It was another work that I just came across in the gallery – but it is certainly one that makes an impact!
Andy Warhol, Campell’s Soup Cans (1962)
It was really interesting to see two works by the famous Pop Artist Andy Warhol. The Campbell soup cans are so iconic and recognisable that it was strange to see them in person. Created using screen printing techniques, they offer a critique of advertising and commercialism. There are 32 canvases, each depicting a different soup flavour.
Andy Warhol, Gold Marilyn Monroe (1962)
Warhol’s Gold Marilyn Monroe is also on show, playing on the popularity of the star and how often her image has been reproduced. He creates her likeness in a Pop Art style, against a gold background.
Mark Rothko, No.3/No.13 (1949)
Mark Rothko’s work makes striking use of colour, and the large scale gives an enveloping effect. It is one of many works the artist created using these hazy rectangular bands of colour. The softened edges of the different blocks of colour gives an effect of blending or blurring.
This is only a small selection of the works on display at MOMA. It is a very interesting and varied collection, well worth a visit!