Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Art- But Not As I've Known It

We arrived in New York Monday at the start of a two week family holiday. So far it has been rather eventful, with my husband still having to take business calls quite regularly, and the air conditioning in our lovely suite in the Waldorf Astoria springing a copious leak and forcing us to move to another room. Although I am less than happy about the business call side of things, the fact that we have been moved to the 34th floor of the Waldorf Towers has made me very happy indeed. Our suite is even nicer than the one we had on the sixth floor, and the view is unbelievable.  I’ll post some photos tomorrow.

I’ve always wanted to visit the Guggenheim Museum to see the building itself, but I have hesitated as it features modern art. Aside from the relatively early moderns like the Impressionists, which I love, I always found this genre of art very hard to understand. We finally went along yesterday, and it was quite an experience. Unfortunately I did not get any photographs of the outside of the building as it was pouring with the kind of rain that soaks you right to the skin, but my son took a couple inside.

Sadly the beautiful domed ceiling is covered in to protect the current art installation, as are most of the windows overlooking Central Park, but it is still an amazing building.  Having, as I confessed earlier, always been perplexed by modern art, we decided to take advantage of the free tours offered - one at 11am and one at 1pm daily. It was an excellent decision.

Honestly, had we gone through on our own, this is the sort of museum I would have rushed through. As someone who was brought up to see art as something that answered questions and portrays a defined message, looking at art that asks questions of the observer makes me feel very ill at ease. Some of the images were disturbing, and it is not really the sort of place I would take little kids, although there were plenty of them around and they seemed to be having quite a lot of fun.

The tour, however, made our visit. Although I can’t say I like most modern art any more than I did before, I learned from our guide that seeking answers from this genre of art is not only futile, it isn’t the point. The idea of modern art is to more about the reactions it generates in you, and the questions it raises. It was an epiphany for me, and I finally understood how words pasted on to the walls of a building could be art, and the fact that I found it all a bit odd was not only totally okay, it was probably what the artist wanted anyway.

It also seems I am not the only visitor who goes along to the Guggenheim because he or she is interested in the building. The guide talked a lot about it, and said that as many as eighty percent of their visitors go along knowing very little of the installations they are exhibiting. Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed this iconic building, was not a fan of modern art either. The staff don’t mind why you are visiting or what you want to see, they are very happy to give you a warm welcome regardless.

To be honest, if you are travelling with young children, I’d advise you to enjoy the beautiful outside of the building and walk around in the entrance and foyer. However if your children are older or you are a real fan of modern art, then this is also definitely the place to go. Either way, if you are visiting New York, you really don’t want to miss it.


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