Visual Art And Now for a Little Safe-for-Work Art History on Slog
posted by July 16 at 17:39 PMon
This was going to be a post about the worst vacation I’ve ever had in New York City; the hazards of falling for people electronically; the power of great art to lift you out of yourself, especially when you’re feeling unbelievably shitty for traveling clear out to New York City to see someone you haven’t spent much in-person time with; and men’s calves. But most of that is none of your business.
So let’s just focus on the calves. I mean, look at them. Has there ever been a better depiction of men’s calves in the history of art? (Anything come to mind, Jen?) This guy stopped me cold on a sad night at MoMA. (MoMA stays open until 9 pm on Thursdays all summer.) He is The Bather, brought into this world by CÚzanne in 1885-1887.
I just showed this guy to Jen Graves and asked her to free associate. “This is a painting about paint.” And also: “The thing that CÚzanne’s known for is the heaviness of the objects. An apple weighs a hundred pounds. A person weighs a ton.” Wikipedia will tell you all about CÚzanne as the bridge from Impressionism to Cubism. None of these things really occurred to me as I was standing there, looking at it, next to some strangers. My thoughts were more like: Calves! What a shape they are!
I was starving, and MoMA lets you re-enter as much as you want, so I went outside to buy a hot dog from a hot dog stand, only it was late enough that I had to walk a ways to find a hot dog stand that still had hot dogs. On the way, I walked behind these three Eastern European guys with six excellent calves.
Ate, got rained on, went back in side, saw the Richard Serra show—unbelievably great, especially the huge, slightly oxidized metal ribbons that you walk along as they turn in and out, presenting a constantly unfurling vertical horizon (nice to be so far from home and be confronted with a piece literally about perspective)—and as I was leaving MoMA, passed a bank of brochures. One of them was a membership brochure. Lo and behold:
Then, two days ago—clearly still obsessed—I took a long walk to Lake Washington, and for a couple blocks walking through the Central District ended up behind a guy listening to his iPod and carrying a bike helmet. I snapped this shot.
I call it The Biker.