<< Back


Posted 6/9/2013 9:18pm by Eugene Wyatt.

As I'd promised myself I went to the Guggenheim to see New Harmony: Abstraction between the Wars 1919 to 1939 but I was disappointed in the display of 40 works assembled from the Guggenheim's permanent collection of Alberto Giacomettis, Fernand Légers, Francis Picabias et al; with the exception of a Piet Mondrian which I found myself standing before, acknowledging his greatness, and a Kurt Schwitters that made me want to see more of his work, I found the exhibition wanting. Every work was hard edged, an assemblage of pictorial ideas that seemed dated; what I was looking for was painting and I found that on my way out, on the floor below, in the Thannhauser Collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting which I'd seen before but by contrast they bore another viewing and a welcome viewing.

I'd likened drawing to prose for it's suggestion to the imagination and now I must liken painting to prose, particularly in the blending of colors of Manet, the rendering of form of early Picasso, the playing with space of Cezanne to name just several aspects and painters. I need realism to bend and the collection's paintings did it well, as does Proust in his writing, and they do not age, they are longer lived than I, they are eternal as far as one can know.

It was the carpets which, with a view to my parents' return, the servants had begun to put down again, those carpets which look so well on bright mornings when amid their disorder the sun awaits you like a friend come to take you out to lunch in the country, and casts over them the dappled light and shade of the forest, but which now on the contrary were the first installations of the wintry prison from which, obliged as I should be to live and take my meals at home, I should no longer be free to escape when I chose. ML p. 537

Little is not of value, except the redundant, whether it is art, writing, people or exhibitions; I wondered of the New Harmony... and of the Thannhauser, having left the Guggenheim as I walked down Fifth Avenue across from Central Park, what and who were responsible for that liking and disliking taste I'd had when viewing art separated by so few years. Questions or exhibitions to yourself are always of value.