Sunday, July 19, 2009

My feet hurt

I had a few more things on my "must see" list, and they included the two great art Museums of New York City, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met). However, the first stop on my hike uptown was St. Patrick's Cathedral.

I've always loved Gothic cathedrals, so I was very eager to see one of the more famous American examples. Being that it was Sunday morning, mass was already in full swing when I arrived. I took a few discreet photos, listened to a reading, and then slipped away from the tourist area they had set up at the rear of the church.

I have never been a fan of Modern Art. I often find it more interesting than beautiful, and I personally look for beauty in art. However, the MoMA is home to Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night, which may well be one of the most famous paintings in the world. This alone was enough to convince me to make the trip.

Sadly, when I arrived I found that Starry Night was on loan to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam! I still went in, and was glad that I did. While I may never really like modern art, I certainly gained an appreciation for the skill of the artists represented there. One exhibit that I did enjoy was devoted to Russian artists around the Revolution, and how they got caught up in the heady rush of early communism and how they adopted their "bourgeois" art to a more "people" oriented outlet for their creativity. One oil painter began designing furniture, and some worked on propaganda for the new regime.

From there I hiked up to the Met, and was glad that I did. If there is any collection that could rival the Louvre it lives here, off of Central Park. The first area I went to was the extensive Egyptian collection, which is perhaps the finest in the world and certainly the best in North America. Like many people, I've always found the culture of ancient Egypt absolutely fascinating, and the vast numbers of artifacts, statues and inscriptions on display kept entranced.

You can't have an art museum without art, and so from the Egyptian area I made my way to the opposite wing of the Met for a look at their European collection. They have an amazing selection of Impressionists, including some Van Gogh's to take away the sting of the missing Starry Night.

I really enjoyed each of these paintings by Monet, especially the winter chill that you can feel looking at the one on the left.

I also really liked these painting for their sheer size and romanticism.

The Met also had a large collection of Asian art, including a bunch of Japanese wood block prints and a few huge examples from China. I've obviously seen a lot of Japanese art in my time, but the styles of the artifacts and statues from China were all pretty new to me.

I filtered out of the Met shortly before closing time, after having walked from the Port Authority bus terminal on 42nd street to the Met on 83rd street. Phew. However, my day was over, but the night was just beginning, so I made my way to Times Square to meet up with my hosts for a night on the town!

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