For writing my outside essay, I visited The Metropolitan Museum Of Arts and the Museum of Modern Arts. In general, I had four trips to the first museum and two trips to the second. There were great artworks that impressed me in both museums. It was powerful and immersive experience of watching them. My trips gave me an opportunity to see the great masterpieces and feel art instead of reading about it. My trips broadened and deepened my knowledge in the field of fine arts. In this report, I would like to share my significant experience of being there and reveal some thoughts about the artists whose paintings impressed me during my visit to these museums.
Metropolitan Museum of Art is situated in the heart of New York City at the so-called “museum mile” of Manhattan. It is one of the largest and most visited art museums in the world. Nowadays, the museum exists at the expense of sponsors and givers but it also has some government support. The interesting fact is that the entrance tickets are the small round colored icons. Their сolors change every day, however, they are valid during the week. The icons can be attached to clothing and taken as a souvenir, as countless tourists and native New Yorkers do. The entrance fee to the museum is non-fixed: one can give the cashier any bill or coin and buy a ticket. It should be mentioned that the Metropolitan Museum of Art is huge. It includes a number of parts, and each presents the special art direction. I had to submit the walking tour to be able to see as much as was possible with the help of experienced museum worker. I was able to see not only great pictures, but also amazing furniture from the 18-19th centuries, chests, cabinets, interior of entire rooms of the 19th century, Tiffany stained glass and lamps, dishes, old grandfather clock, and other amazing things. In addition, it was interesting to see weapons facilities. I can say without exaggeration that the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the most interesting museums I have ever seen. Without a doubt, it is the place that every art lover must visit. Its extensive collection consists of 19 different sections. I will describe only those that I visited and studied.
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The section of the American Decorative Arts causes an undoubful interest. It contains more than 12 thousand art objects of the 17th – early 20th centuries. In the center of this section, there is the richest collection of American glass, including an array of beautiful exhibits of Tiffany. A collection of Egyptian Art, Arts of Africa and Oceania is considered one of the most comprehensive and representative ones in the world. The collection includes such artifacts as cave paintings of Australian aborigines that were made more than 40,000 years ago, the group of posts of ancestors 4.6 meters in height and cut from wood by Asmat people as well as a collection of personal and ceremonial objects of the nobility of the kingdom of Benin. Considering the variety of materials from which the exhibits are made, the department undeniably takes the first place in the museum: the ancient masters used everything from precious metals to porcupine quills.
The section Islamic art, placed in a separate room deserves a special mention. There are 12,000 exhibits such as religious and secular subjects of the Islamic culture from Spain and North Africa to Central Asia in the collection. The exposition includes the items of different cultures and a large number of objects of the Bronze Age. In my opinion, the most interesting object is a set of lamassu statues guarding the northwestern palace of the Assyrian king.
On the roof, the exposition of modern art is presented. It is constantly changing. During my first visit, there was a huge glass and the models of dead crows as if they had broken out of it, were presented. The installation situated in the corner space drew my attention. The installation looked like a semi-circular wall made from the identical books. The books were put on each other with the spines forward. All the books were covered by green or gray covers, and that made them look like stones. The wall of the books was nearly one meter high and resembled a part of the medieval castle. In addition, I saw an alligator, spiked with sharp objects confiscated from people crossing the US border. Each time, it was exciting to visit the modern art section because the exposition on the roof is extremely interesting.
The section European Painting contains a relatively small number of paintings, but the value of this collection is incredibly high. The museum owns 37 paintings by Monet, 21 painting by Cezanne, and 18 works by Rembrandt. I saw these world-famous pictures with my own eyes for the fist time, and I can definitely say that the paintings of the greatest artists make an impression to the viewer that cannot be compared with anything else. I think the viewers experience a catharsis while watching them. That was what I had felt. I looked at Cezanne paintings and I was impressed by his inimitable technique and mastery. I believe that his experience reveals the nature of painting. He managed to achieve self-sufficiency of classical painting and capture simple things and the true nature of these things. The strength of his artistic personality lies in the ability of pure contemplation. This form of artistic vision is substantially inherent to the great artists. I think there are no lines or shapes, but only the contrasts in the paintings of this artist. These contrasts are generated not by black and white colors, but more by color sensations. The exact ratio of tones creates a form. When the tone is harmonically matched, the picture is created by itself. Many of Cezanne’s paintings have a remarkable quality – the boundaries cannot be indicated, but only guessed. Due to this, Cezanne’s pictures seem to be fashioned from a single plastic mass.
However, this mass is not amorphous and it looks dynamic. In my opinion, Cezanne’s artisanship can be determined as a mosaic technique of structuring of colors. Abstractly, one can imagine that the person or item is built of crystal and the space around it is constructed from invisible crystals. First, the subject receives the vertical and horizontal position, finds its place on the painting, and then receives its color. Some of these aspects inhered to the impressionistic manner of painting. However, I cannot consider Cezanne as an impressionist. I think his works are more a reaction to impressionism, although he uses the impressionistic technique of seeing and painting.
First, Cezanne does not dematerialize a form. Peace, nature, and a man are presented in their integrity and strength. He aspires to a wholeness of form, color, and visual space of their reunion. Cezanne’s paintings do not contain a complex content. Usually, they are the portraits of loved ones and friends, numerous self-portraits, landscapes, still lifes, and rarely – paintings depicting a simple human story or the world full of contemplation, meditation, and concentration. However, it should be mentioned that in all cases Cezanne’s paintings are not sketches but finished works.
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Moreover, I can note that Cezanne had lost some specific forms and feeling of their texture. In Cezanne’s still-lifes, it is difficult to determine which fruits are depicted; in the portraits, one cannot conclude, in which tissue a figure is clothed. In addition, the portraits of people reveal their heartlessness because the artist does not pay much attention to the spirit world and the character of the models. He is much more interested in the basic forms of the objective world, transmitted by color ratio.
In addition, I visited the Museum of Modern Arts. This is the first and the most famous museum of contemporary art the world. Later, the idea of creating such museums spread to other capitals of the world. The building, in which it is situated, is an indisputable masterpiece of modern art itself. During my first trip, I visited the top floor of the Museum of Modern Art. There, temporary, alternating exhibitions and expositions are held. Further below, on the 5th floor of the museum, a rich collection of sculptures and painting is presented. It should be noted that the post-impressionist works by famous contemporary artists prevail there. I was able to see the great paintings by Russo, Gogen, Kandinsky, El Lissitzky, Miro, and Degas. Among the most famous and unique paintings in the collection of Museum of Modern Arts one can find the paintings by Van Gogh The Starry Night, Picasso’s Avignon Girls and Malevich’s White on White. Separately, one can highlight that the world’s best collection of works by Picasso is assembled in the Museum of Modern Art.
The entire fourth floor is dedicated to the paintings and sculptures of the 1940s-1970s. In my opinion, it is one of the most interesting halls. Here, the paintings by abstractionists, expressionists, minimalists are housed, as well as the pop art works. There are many of the most famous works by Andy Warhol. In addition, I visited a sculpture garden, located in the atrium of the building, in the open air. There the famous sculpture Goat by Picasso was presented as well as a piece of Paris – the entrance to the Paris underground, the creation of Guimard.
The different directions of art are presented in the Museum of Modern Arts. During my first visit, I was able to study impressionism, post-impressionism, cubism, fauvism, and futurism. I was completely charmed by the paintings of impressionists and post-impressionists. Their technique gives the opportunity to depict the real world in the most natural way, reveal its mobility and variability, convey fleeting impressions. Furthermore, I was impressed by the speed, the movement, and the energy in the paintings by futurists. I believe they tried to convey their main artistic principles with relatively simple techniques. Their paintings are characterized by energetic compositions where the figures are intersected and split into fragments with sharp angles. Zigzags, spirals, and tapered cones dominate constantly. The movement is revealed by imposing of successive phases at the image. My second visit was devoted to studying abstractionism, dadaism, constructivism, suprematism, expressionism, surrealism, abstractionism-expressionism, minimalism, conceptualism, and contemporary art.
One of the most famous paintings by the artist Salvador Dali kept at the Museum of Modern Art, The Persistence of Memory caused many thoughts. The image that express a departure from the linear understanding of time can be very often found in Daly’s paintings. I think the artists’s wife Gala rightly predicted that no one would be able to forget it.
The thing I explored was GIF animation as an artwork. Many artists express their attitude with the help of GIF animation. The short videos are displayed on the big monitors, sometimes accompanied by the soundtrack. One should put on the headphones and carefully look at the monitor to get the author’s message. In addition, the picture from another exhibition called “Panopticon” impressed me. The picture was black-and-white and resembled an x-ray. There was a woman’s leg in the lace stockings with the knife attached to the shin. The knife on the women’s leg is the symbol of some secrets everybody has and which people around just cannot see with the naked eye. Thus, we never know what the person we communicate with keeps in mind and how dangerous he or she is. The picture was beautiful and thoughtful at the same time. It made me think about some aspects of my life, that is why I liked it.
Without a doubt, being at the Museum of Modern Arts I paid a huge attention to Picasso’s paintings. I can note some common features inherent to his creation. Fascination with African sculpture led him to his own completely new genre. Picasso can be considered the ancestor of Cubism. This artistic direction, which rejects the traditions of naturalism and figurative-cognitive function of art, is clearly reflected in his works. I can note that Picasso paid special attention to the transformation of forms into geometric blocks, increased and broke the volumes, dissected them to the brink of a plane and extended in space. The background is the solid body itself that is inevitably bounded by the plane of the picture. It is can be clearly seen in the Portrait of Kahnweiler and Factory in Horta de Ebro. The prospect disappears, the palette tends to be monochrome, and although the original purpose of Cubism is reproducing the feeling of space and gravity of the masses in more clear way than by traditional techniques, Picasso’s paintings often look like the incomprehensible puzzles. To regain a connection with reality, Picasso sometimes introduced typeface, elements and coarse materials: wallpaper, pieces of newspapers, matchboxes into his paintings. In addition, he used sand, posters, business cards and much more. A material, whatever it is, becomes alive in his hands, and it seems like he has breathed his own power into it.
In Picasso’s creation, still-lifes with musical instruments, tubes and boxes with the tobacco, notes, bottles of wine, and other attributes inherent to the artistic bohemian lifestyle of the century dominate. In the compositions, there is a ‘cubist cryptography’ – encrypted telephone numbers of homes, torn lovers’ names, street names, cafes. Collage technique combines cubist prism faces in a larger plane or gives events from human life in a relaxed and humorous way. In addition, there is the desire for harmonization of colors and balanced composition. I realized that virtually everything Picasso saw or touched had influenced his paintings. It can be the works of other artists, women, some things, or even garbage. Picasso undertook a systematic study of almost all of surrogate products that could be incorporated into the painting to revitalize its surface. He gives them the ability to transform into expressive color spots, creating his famous ‘pictures of the label’. Today they are considered the masterpieces.
The museums give a powerful experience since they challenge one to think about the different aspects of life with the help of art. The exhibitions allow one to look at the artwork and get its message. I changed my mind about some issues. Moreover, I believe that impressions I had after visiting both museums made me a different person than when I first came in. I have been four times at the Metropolitan Museum and twice at the Museum of Modern Arts, and I dream to go back there again and again because their collections are huge and extremely interesting.
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