A first look at MoMA
Looking down from the fifth story towards the lobby of MoMA with Barnett Newman’s 25-foot steel Broken Obelisk in the foreground and Claude Monet's Water Lilies in the background. 2:30 PM. Photo: JH.

Yesterday we went over to MoMA for a first time look at the new building designed by Yoshio Taniguchi. I’d already heard all kinds of wonderful things about the place, and of course the occasional bits of not-so-wonderful criticism, but I hadn’t read any of the reviews of it, and so had really no idea what to expect.

As far as any criticism you might hear: forget it. It is sensational. A wonder. A fabulous, thrilling museum of space and light and great vistas of both the interior and the exterior, of the garden and the surrounding buildings. Mr. Taniguchi has created a masterpiece for us.

I tried to remember what the old MoMA was like in order to compare. But there is no comparison. Now there seems to be so much more to see and a much more wonderful environment in which to see it. Rodin’s Balzac presides over the interior terrace garden (named for Agnes Gund) with such command that it is the first time I’ve ever really stopped to take it all in.

Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans, 1962
JH and I went over at 11:30 for a tour given by Matt Montgomery of the museum staff. We’d planned to spend an hour (and of course planned to return to really see it at a later date). At 1:30 we went down to the restaurant on the ground floor (there are three, including a café and a wine and coffee bar) for an excellent lunch. We both had a soup – he, mushroom; I, butternut squash – and wild salmon with a horseradish glaze for the main course: $10 and $16 twice, plus Fiji and tea. Sixty dollars plus tax and tip for two. A real bargain for the quality, the quantity, the beautiful environment and in midtown Manhattan!

After lunch we returned to our viewing and JH working with the Digital. It was almost four o’clock when we left, and although we’d seen every room, we’d seen very little because we moved so quickly through the various exhibits. Yet all of it was pure pleasure. Even looking at the city outside from within the museum is a thrill. It is as if Mr. Taniguchi found a way to turn the museum inside out and outside in so that all of the art and artfulness of modern times and modern (and old) New York are accessible to our eyes.

The museum has had a little more than 200,000 visitors
in its first three weeks of being opened to the public. MoMA in Queens had 400,000 visitors in a year. There were lots of people visiting but the space has the most comforting way of accommodating the crowds that it’s even a pleasure to see them, along with the art. This is the greatest holiday gift, the greatest holiday show for New York and all of its visitors.
James Rosenquist's F-111, 1964-65
1945 Bell 47 D1 Helicopter
The Sculpture Garden
The Modern restaurant
A Miro in the lobby
Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, 1907
Zooming in from the sixth story
Ellsworth Kelly's Sculpture for a Large Wall, 1957
Picasso's Boy Leading a Horse, 1905-1906
Rodin's Balzac
A Calder mobile
MoMA Members check-in
Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk with Henri Matisse's "Dance I" (1909) above
A section of the MoMA's biggest room with Ellsworth Kelly's Sculpture for a Large Wall behind
Pop Art Gallery

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Walking through the Modern Paintings and Sculpture Galleries; A group of Brancusi sculptures.
L. to r.: Henri Matisse's Jeannette I, II, III, IV, V; Sol LeWitt's Floor Structure, 1963.
L. to r.: John Chamberlain's Essex, 1960; Looking out towards the Sculpture Garden.

December 17, Volume IV, Number 197
Photographs by Jeff Hirsch/NYSD.com


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© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/NewYorkSocialDiary.com