Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Jacqueline de Ribes in New York Cottages & Gardens

I hope you can check out the new December issue of New York Cottages & Gardens magazine to see my latest "Divine Design" column, this one on Jacqueline de Ribes, "the last queen of Paris," who is now 90 and recently auctioned much of her family's collection of antiques and art at Sotheby's in Paris. I believe I met Jacqueline de Ribes in New York in the '80s or '90s when she worked as a fashion designer because I think she was a client of Eleanor Lambert, the fashion PR powerhouse, who often had parties in her apartment on Fifth Avenue. Jacqueline de Ribes certainly was a French style icon who was always covered in the fashion press. When I saw this auction coming up on the calendar I thought it would make for a good story.

Friday, December 6, 2019

A New Museum of Modern Art

Matisse sculptures in front of the Matisse painting Dance (1) at MOMA.
     I recently had the pleasure of visiting the new Museum of Modern Art in midtown, which opened recently on West 53rd Street, and it was a very successful trip. The museum recently underwent a big renovation and expansion overseen by the architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with the architecture firm Gensler. The expansion vastly increased the size of the museum. At the same time it offered the museum an opportunity to reconsider how the art was presented and installed, and create an alternative to the story that modern art has been created by white men from the Western world.  "The real value of this expansion is not more space, but space that allows us to rethink the experience of art in the Museum," Director Glenn D. Lowry has said. To that end, separating galleries by artist or by media has been done away with in order to blend everything so you'll find paintings and sculptures and videos all presented together. Galleries will continually change and performances are offered throughout the day. "At any given moment there will be something new to see," said Lowry. Which is all to say there was a lot to take in! 
     I did my trick with large spaces, which is that I took the elevator up and started at the top, the 6th floor, and worked down. The floors are much larger, longer, than they used to be so there was much to see. The juxtaposition of the art was interesting, like the Matisse sculptures and paintings above, or the futuristic Umberto Boccioni sculpture in front of a Robert Delaunay painting –

I found a cherished favorite - Monet's Waterlilies and they looked good in their new home –

As I made my way down I could see a dance performance happening on a floor below –

Around every corner was something new to discover. This wild room by David Tudo called Rainforest V was constructed of sculptures and found objects out of which came eerie sounds –

     Honestly I didn't make it through the whole museum - it was so big. I want to go back soon and see more. I loved the unexpected surprises throughout. The large, spacious, elegant galleries reminded me of those at the Whitney Museum downtown. And like the Whitney, a lot of the galleries had videos playing in them so you heard the noise or the music or the talking of the videos. They were not quiet, silent galleries like at the Met. It's interesting how museums change.
    The juxtaposition of different art and media was provocative, though I was wondering if all the visitors would understand the comparisons and combinations. And of course it opens up lots of room for debate.  I heard one woman say to her companion, "Some of the choices I question."
   A unique aspect of the MOMA is that it's smack dab in the center of midtown and you can see the city through the museum's windows unlike other institutions which are insulated from the outside.  On one high floor I stopped at a window to peer out. Across the street in an old apartment building a giant tv was broadcasting colorful cartoons in the dark. Next to the apartment building was an office building where workers toiled at desks in front of bluish white computer screens. Down below, the canopy of Connolly's Irish Pub was strung with colored lights and on the sidewalk two small Christmas trees flanked the front door.