Putting velvet behind and a bright light on a MoMA visit

I know it may be difficult to believe, but every and now then I catch some riffs of culture. After all, there is a world besides sports and trash TV to dip our toes into. And since those two aspects of the world tend to be a tad shallow, it can be rewarding to step into a deeper wading pool.So perhaps propelled by the injunctions of the stars, the wind and the tide, I found myself Sunday in The Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. And yes, the cultural waters were over my head at times. Because when it comes to graphic arts, my mind can be a disaster area where parts are blown into an unsolvable jigsaw puzzle. Consequently, some things I saw seemed to be somewhat silly or simply hieroglyphics.Nevertheless, I found the visit to be surreal and sublime … a wonderful experience I won’t cease to feel for sometime. The Museum of Modern Art, affectionally known as MoMA among we art lovers, is an exquisite smorgasbord abounding with magnificence.MoMA’s collection includes a staggering 150,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, architectural models and drawings, and design objects. There are so many images to scan and process, you find yourself and others biting bottom lips in reflection and retrospection. You could strike a match on everybody’s concentration. And the concentration is intense because visual delights are everywhere.The museum boasts the world’s largest and most inclusive collection of modern painting and sculpture comprising some 3,200 works dating from the late nineteenth century to the present. It provides a comprehensive selection of the major artists and movements since the 1890s, from Paul Cézanne’s The Bather and Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night to masterworks of today.Fifth-floor galleries survey the 1880s to the 1940s, with works by Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian and Salvador Dali, among others. Fourth-floor galleries showcase masterworks from the 1950s to 1970s by such artists as Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Donald Judd and Andy Warhol. I was awed by the works of Picasso and van Gogh, amused by Warhol’s and confused by Pollock’s. But I guess you don’t have to understand art to appreciate it. And I also appreciated all the benevolent benefactors with deep pockets who have made MoMA possible.One of the museum’s current special exhibits is Groundswell: Constructing the Contemporary Landscape. This epic exhibition presents 23 landscape-design projects that reveal the surge of creativity and critical debate in the design of public spaces, from small urban plazas to large parks for post-industrial sites to long-range plans for entire urban sectors. Since there are many among of us who want to recast the look of Reading, this marvelous exhibit should be a required field trip for all would-be city planners.Yes, even to an untutored mind like mine, spending several hours browsing and savoring the spectacular MoMA treasures truly is a glorious, uplifting expenditure of time. In fact, I was so smitten by art that I soon may start sporting a beret and wearing my coat draped over my shoulders. I guess getting swallowed up in the mystique of culture can give one an attitude.

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