Last week, I suggested to Milton that after work on Friday might be a good time for us to visit the Museum of Modern Art. Every Friday between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m., admission is free — our second favorite four-letter f-word.
Milton’s favorite four-letter f-word is:
Time was running out for us to catch Edvard Munch’s The Scream for it is on display only until April 29. Last May, a private collector who is believed to be a businessman named Leon Black, purchased this iconic artwork to the tune of $119.9 million. Black’s net worth as of September 2012 is $3.5 billion, so he’s still living well within his means. Visitors are permitted to photograph it provided they turn off their camera’s flash. Museum-goers that fail to play by the rules are hauled off by security to the fourth floor where they’re forced to stare at this oil on canvas painting by Brice Marden for an hour as punishment.
When Milton viewed at it he declared:
Milton: I’d get more turned on looking at a piece of sheet rock.
MoMA is always crowded after 4 pm on Fridays. Many of the visitors are tourists as well as locals eager to pass on paying the $26 admission fee. We knew that The Scream was on exhibit on the fifth floor so we headed there first. We checked out a few seminal paintings in MoMA’s collection. Milton particularly loved this one by Modigliani.
I photographed the one next to it to placate my readers who are always salivating for some nudity. You know who you are.
A guard told us to cut through the gallery showing Monet’s water lilies to reach The Scream.
Then, head for the clusterfuck. She did not use the word ‘clusterfuck’, but she told us what we anticipated: that it would be crowded.
When we found it we first saw the throng standing before it, some as if they were in a trance.
When we finally reached it Milton was clearly unimpressed and was not shy about declaring that, but he kept his voice low so we were not beaten with an easel. We moved onto another Munch called The Storm.
This one rated Milton’s seal of approval. Besides creating four versions of The Scream, Munch also made 30 lithographs of it. Here’s one.
There was no crowd around it, so clearly the crowds are drawn to colorized terror. Before ducking out of the Munch exhibit, we also saw this self-portrait he painted in 1895, the year he made The Scream.
Next, we glimpsed a Van Gogh.
We caught some Brancusi sculptures that irritated Milton. He particularly hated a piece in wood.
Milton: What’s this called?
I relished my response.
Milton gave me the hairy eyeball. I added:
Me: It does look kinda chicken-y.
When we entered the gallery displaying Mondrian, Milton groaned.
Milton hates minimalism. When he saw an oil on canvas by Patrick Henry Bruce that took Bruce two years to paint that he called Painting, Milton said that the only thing he liked about it was the box frame.
We savored one of Milton’s all-time favorite paintings, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.
Then, we headed down to the fourth floor, the floor Milton refers to as:
Milton: The Joke Floor.
We took the stairs. Under the staircase, we saw this sculpture called Untitled by Robert Morris.
It’s made from felt, copper tubing, asphalt, steel cable, lead and double-sided mirrors. The architect Philip Johnson donated it in 1984, possibly after he did some major spring-cleaning. Milton came up with his own name for the piece:
Milton: What Becomes of Sweaters.
The Joke Floor pieces that have convinced Milton that he and I are in the wrong line of work, or we must be sleeping with the wrong people, include this oil on cotton by Robert Ryman called Twin.
This ten-foot-tall plywood plank by John McCracken called The Absolutely Naked Fragrance.
And Milton’s personal most-favorite-piece-to-hate, Primary Light Group: Red, Green, Blue by Jo Baer. Fortunately he did not read the description for these three panels actually belong in a series of twelve.
As we walked past a Frank Stella painting, Milton asked:
Milton: What is this, an airline logo?
Me: It’s called Empress of India. That’s apparent.
As I was photographing the Stella piece, I heard convulsions — coming from Milton. He was overcome with laughter when he saw a new museum purchase, Richard Serra’s Delineator.
This massive sculpture is comprised of two sheets of hot rolled steel. One laid out on the gallery floor and the other, overhangs the floor piece. What reduced Milton and then me, to two laughing fools, was the little origami sculpture lying in the center of it. It was hard to zoom in to get a focused shot.
We nearly missed seeing the piece suspended from the ceiling. Fortunately, Milton noticed it and he asked:
Milton: What is that, mold?
Later, I learned that the biggest joke had been on our fellow museum-goers and us. I had photographed the sign describing the piece, but didn’t read it. I’ll admit it, I was laughing hysterically as I snapped this shot.
Someone not only walked on it, but they placed that little sculpture on it that the museum janitor probably trashed later. It’s not part of the exhibit even though everyone viewing it with us assumed that it was, and of course, everyone played by the rules and we thought that included not walking on art. Now that’s a scream.