Tag Archives: picasso

Lame Adventure 369: What a Scream

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.

Nice price.

Nice price.

Milton’s favorite four-letter f-word is:

Milton: Food.

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.

Return I

Return I. 1964-65

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.

Anna Zborowska. 1917

Anna Zborowska. 1917

I photographed the one next to it to placate my readers who are always salivating for some nudity. You know who you are.

Reclining Nude. 1919

Reclining Nude. 1919

A guard told us to cut through the gallery showing Monet’s water lilies to reach The Scream.

Water Lilies. 1914-1926

Water Lilies. 1914-1926

Then, head for the clusterfuck. She did not use the word ‘clusterfuck’, but she told us what we anticipated: that it would be crowded.

Scream mania.

Scream mania.

When we found it we first saw the throng standing before it, some as if they were in a trance.

The Scream. 1895

The Scream. 1895

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.

The Storm. 1893

The Storm. 1893

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.

The Scream. Lithograph. 1895. Signed in 1896 (Guess Munch had higher priorities before he got around to signing.)

The Scream. Lithograph. 1895. Signed in 1896 (Guess Munch had higher priorities before he got around to signing it.)

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.

Self portait of Munch at age 31. 1895. Signed 1896.

Self portrait of Munch at age 31. 1895. Signed 1896.

Next, we glimpsed a Van Gogh.

The Starry Night. 1889

The Starry Night. 1889

We caught some Brancusi sculptures that irritated Milton. He particularly hated a piece in wood.

Milton: What’s this called?

I relished my response.

Me: Cock.

The Cock. Paris 1924

The Cock. Paris 1924

Milton gave me the hairy eyeball.  I added:

Me: It does look kinda chicken-y.

When we entered the gallery displaying Mondrian, Milton groaned.

Composition in Red, Blue, and Yellow. 1937-42

Composition in Red, Blue, and Yellow. 1937-42

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.

Painting. 1929-30

Painting. 1929-30

We savored one of Milton’s all-time favorite paintings, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. 1907

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. 1907

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. 

Untitled. 1968 What Becomes of Sweaters. 2013

Untitled. 1968

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.

Twin. 1966 (Or, Why Didn't We Think of This 1? 2013)

Twin. 1966

This ten-foot-tall plywood plank by John McCracken called The Absolutely Naked Fragrance.

The Absolutely Naked Fragrance. 1967 (Or, Why Didn't We Think of This 2? 2013)

The Absolutely Naked Fragrance. 1967

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.

Primary Light Group: Red, Green, Blue. 1964-65

Primary Light Group: Red, Green, Blue. 1964-65

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.

Empress of India. 1965

Empress of India. 1965

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

Delineator. 1974-75

Delineator. 1974-75

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.

Delineator origami a.k.a. "What the hell is that?"

Delineator origami a.k.a. “What the hell is that?”

We nearly missed seeing the piece suspended from the ceiling. Fortunately, Milton noticed it and he asked:

Milton: What is that, mold?

Delineator ceiling sculpture.

Delineator ceiling sculpture.

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.

We should have read this.

Milton and I missed our opportunity to Riverdance on a MoMA installation!

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.

Lame Adventure 77: Weekend Getaway!

As mentioned in my previous post, my friends, Ulla and Charles, invited Milton and I to spend the weekend at their lovely home in Hampton Bays.  According to Wikipedia, Hampton Bays is a hamlet in Suffolk County, New York in the Town of Southampton.  Or, as Milton said, “You figure out how we’re going to get there.”

On Saturday morning, we rode the Long Island Railroad from Penn Station to our destination. The train ride took a few hours.  For much of our journey, the passengers sitting across from us talked loudly and incessantly about numerous grisly murders.  Exasperated, Milton muttered, “How many murders are in this conversation?”  This made me laugh and in doing so I accidentally squeezed the polka dot bikini clad rubber chicken squeaky toy we had brought for our friends’ border collies, Tulip and Astro.

Tulip wanting to play.


This momentarily silenced the murderers row narrators and caused the guy sitting in front of us reading his iPad to jump about fifty feet.  Milton recommended that I muzzle the chicken or face the consequences of getting our throats slit possibly with a new iPad app.

Ulla was waiting for us at the station in her air-conditioned car, which was brilliant since we both nearly suffered heat stroke upon exiting the train into the blast furnace-like temperature outside.  She had to work a few hours more, so she drove us to Sag Harbor where Milton tried in vain to scarf a rum raisin ice cream cone that was determined to drip on his hand and shoe in a melted mess in the searing afternoon heat.  Since I’m brutally lactose intolerant, I had a synthetic flavored watermelon ice, which apparently no customers have ordered since 2003, so it had the capacity to remain igloo wall hard even in the fires of hell.

Sag Harbor Ice Cream store

Sag Harbor boats

To further escape the heat, we dove into a wonderful bookstore called BookHampton.  It reminded me of Endicott Booksellers, a booklovers oasis that I used to frequent on Columbus Avenue in the Eighties and Nineties.  I remember getting the homina, homina, hominas when Susan Sontag walked past me, but I held my own when I encountered Camille Paglia at a book signing.  Endicott closed in 1995; a few years after a Barnes & Noble Superstore opened nearby that essentially devoured the little guy.  <sigh>

Milton has never heard of this author, but he likes this book's cover.

After killing about an hour in BookHampton, much of it spent turning the pages of a coffee table book edited by Picasso’s granddaughter called Art Can Only Be Erotic or Make Sure the Kids are Not Around When You Look at This, we next ventured up the street to a hardware store in search of our favorite drain cleaner, Pequa, not that we needed Pequa at this time, but we just wanted to see if they had it in Sag Harbor.  We couldn’t find it.  Then, Ulla met us again.  She asked us what we did during our visit to this picturesque town.  We mentioned the ice cream and BookHampton, but left off the part about our drain cleaner hunt, not that that would have surprised her.  She was born and raised in Sweden.

Ulla then took us on a scenic ride of the area showing us where the swells live as well as a number of McMansions.  I became fixated on a cornfield and a row of birds perched on street lamps.  Even though we were barely a hundred miles out of the city, I momentarily thought we had entered the Twilight Zone.

Birds perched on light posts.

We then went to an outdoor bar where we met our mutual friend, Coco, for a relaxing drink before heading back to Ulla’s house where we were greeted by Charles and their energetic canine comedy team, Tulip and Astro.

Ulla grilled a delicious marinated flank steak for dinner.  Coco brought excellent raspberry and chocolate sorbets with cookies for dessert.  In between we drank copious amounts of wine over the course of several hours.  Electronics wizard Charles has a state-of-the-art sound system where you name any song playing in the iPod in your head and he programs it so it plays.  Milton wanted to hear the R&B artist, Bettye LaVette, and Charles was game to accommodate his request, but was stumped over not being able to access her music.  As it turns out, we were misspelling her name!  Equipped with the correct spelling, Charles found her in his system in a nanosecond. Very cool.

The next day Ulla and Charles asked us if we wanted to go to the beach.  The consummate city slickers that neither swim nor drive, our first thought was “no.” We were both perfectly content to play with the dogs and lounge by the pool we would never dare enter.

Back yard paradise

Back yard paradise hammock

Not wanting to appear like the lumps we are we said, “Okay, sure.”  We piled into Charles’s SUV and headed to the beach.  When he stopped at a 7-Eleven store to pick up a newspaper, Milton and I assumed we were at the beach.  We looked around and wondered where the sand and ocean were hiding.  Milton opened his car door to exit.  Ulla patiently shed daylight on the situation, “Guys, we’re at 7-Eleven.  This isn’t the beach.”

The beach itself really did look like the beach.  The sand was hot as we trekked towards the ocean, both wondering, “This is so much work. Where’s the fun?”   My assignment was to carry the bananas.

Banana ass shot of Ulla and me.

Both Charles and Ulla are either people with phenomenal inner GPS (something neither Milton nor I have at all, especially if we both can mistake a 7-Eleven for the beach) for they instantly found their very cool friends from Brooklyn, D&G.  I was awestruck that people from Brooklyn cannot only swim, but swim in the ocean.  Then again, we’re from Manhattan and can barely handle sitting in our bathtubs without water wings.

D&G and Charles

After much cajoling, Ulla finally managed to get Milton and I to take a walk along the ocean’s edge where, naturally, it is so much cooler.  The surf rolling in and out felt great on our feet.  Milton was certain that the lifeguards had their eyes on us the entire time and said to each other, “Those two down there; the awkward uncoordinated ones.  Code red.”

Just another day at the office until ...

"Look down there. See those two stumbling around? Bad news on feet."

Better keep an eye on them.

I was worried that the surf might knock me down.  Milton assured me that fear was unfounded.  Then, the surf knocked him down in front of a two-year-old girl that was standing in front of him.  Milton is still baffled how a pint-sized person that weighs about as much as his right elbow did not fall down.  Even Milton’s significant splash did not knock down that little kid.  After spitting out a salmon, Milton told me that the Atlantic does indeed taste salty.

Look at me, Mister! I'm still standing!

Back up on dry land, we were feeling pretty tranquil.  Sitting on the beach in the company of good friends staring out at the ocean is quite nice.  When we headed back to the car, the sand had even felt reduced from third degree burn level to second.

At Ulla’s house, we sat around the pool, sipped beers with Charles and played with Tulip and Astro.  Coco joined us since she was driving us to the train station. Before leaving, we showered in the outdoor shower Charles built (we determined that he and Ulla are capable of doing anything; had they lived in the Gulf, they probably would have solved the oil spill down there in a week).  Then, we bid our fond farewells to our wonderful hosts and headed back to Gotham.

On the LIRR heading back to the city, two very polite middle aged women sat across from us speaking Italian the entire time.  Every so often words in English would pop up such as “Six Flags” or “Bridgehampton.”  I did not have the impression that they were talking about murder at a Six Flags in Bridgehampton.  Milton said that sitting across from them made him feel like he was in a foreign film.  He added, “I wouldn’t change a single minute of this weekend.”  Neither would I.

Goofing around on a sand dune.