For the most part, they don't get it, Jen. You probably have a sufficient number of artifacts on your desk to be an encyclopedia of art history. Maybe I'm wrong, I have a Lempicka print! Besides, urinals are practically everywhere; chessboards are around too.
Contemporary galleries, lofts, installation sites, graffiti walls, on and on, are where it's at, for the most part? Did you see the faux-house being built on Pike St? Last weekend I walked by it, they had a huge projected film on the side of a wall next to the house. It was nice, since a lot of people were in the U-District partying. It's 'opening' is tonight.
It's a great comment on Duchamp, the ultimate artist-unartist, who gave up art to play chess (all a joke, of course) that the Met doesn't have any of his work.
Of course, when viewing the bicycle wheel installed in a stool at MoMA about 20 years ago with a friend, she grabbed the wheel and gave it a spin. A security guard swung around, but we'd already moved on. Duchamp must have smiled.
Wasn't there a gentleman's agreement for most of the last century that the Met wouldn't intrude on MoMa's territory? It's kind of pointless for them to play catch-up now. I mean, where does the Met go to get a Duchamp? Is it going to be an important work? No, because the important works are few, well-known, and not going anywhere. And why? Just to check another box on their list?
My favorite Duchampian reference is on the artwork of a Gang of Four album. A friend lent it to me about five years ago, but they already had broken up. I surprisingly became a big fan of their music. I hear them sometimes on KEXP and according to the station, the band has reunited.
There is no agreement between the Met and MoMA. [a popular myth] The Director of the Met has a documented aversion to living artists. The institution is structured in such a way that they are only now begining to understand early twentieth century art. There are also major gaps in the Met's collection of art made in the USA from 1914-1940. The institutional belief at the time was that all the Modern art made in Europe was crap and all the Modern art made in the USA was an imitation of European crap. The lack of a single work by Duchamp speaks to the institution's lazy approach to collection building. They would prefer if yet another mega-buck gazillionaire would just give them what they lack.
Still the joint is worth seeing if only for the stuff that they do have.
I've been to the Met once. My uncle took me when I was a kid. Don't think I've been to MoMA. Last year, my girlfriend wanted to go the Guggenheim. I had a feeling it wasn't a great idea. She was a bit of a cynic, and perhaps was baiting my art interests. Sure enough, the winding platforms, either that or the abstract sculpture exhibit, caused her to spend some time at the 'urinal' in their restroom.
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