This last week was something of a blur. I was in New York for a couple of days seeing friends and art and product. I had not been to the gift show for a few years and it was good to run into colleagues and to see what will be filling shop shelves soon. The friend part is always tricky. I could spend whole days with the friends I was able to see and it would still not feel like enough. Even so, there were people I wanted to see and couldn’t. It’s a matter of too much goodness and not enough time. “Stay longer,” my at home friends advise, but it would take weeks, I fear, and not just another couple of days.
With only a few hours to dedicate to exhibits, I settled on Picasso and Pollock at MoMA. The Picasso show was packed and there was the most delightful group of school girls there with their teacher. I eavesdropped on her comments until I felt conspicuous, then I went on alone.
The first room is Picasso’s later works in metal; the next contains early pieces primarily in wood. They are smaller, mostly on pedestals and hung on the wall. This is good, because I could be close. I don’t know much about art. I know how it makes me feel. The energy comes to me in waves. I like to get as close as I can, to see the brush strokes or the texture of the canvas where there is none. I like to see the push of the clay or where the hammer met the metal.
In these early sculptures, I recognized Picasso. The work was consistent with what I knew. But what I loved seeing, was not the final form, but the random drive of the nails that held the rough pieces of wood together. I don’t know if the artist considered their placement; perhaps their seeming randomness was calculated. But it looked to me that the important thing was to make the pieces stick, just as my boys would have done building something in the garage. The focus was vision to reality; nailing was the rush to get it together.
I realized something as I studied those pieces. My writing has been stuck. For a long time it came out in a rush, a willy-nilly tumble of words that I could not get onto the page fast enough. I wasn’t as worried about the line of the nails. I just wanted to get the damn thing together. I am missing that juice.
Image, top, swiped with great appreciation from the MoMA site here. Photography Pablo Enriquez.