SFMOMA’s American Icons at the Grand Palais

Andy Warhol Elizabeth Taylor

Ce weekend j’ai visité l’exposition Icônes Américaines au Grand Palais. J’y allais plus par simple curiosité – et pour amortir ma Carte Sésame – que par amour de l’art moderne. Moi qui pourrais passer une journée au Musée d’Orsay, j’avoue être peu sensible à ce courant. Impression confirmée à la vue des premiers tableaux – des bandes arc-en-ciel et un cœur à l’envers – et qui se poursuit au fil des salles. Cette vilaine phrase me revient en tête (« Pfff, moi aussi je serais capable de faire ça. ») Et pourtant, en faisant le tour une seconde fois pour les photos et en lisant le guide bien pédagogique, je me surprends à davantage apprécier les œuvres. Le moderne, un art dont l’appréciation se mérite ? Disons qu’il n’est pas forcément évident tant qu’on ne connaît pas les intentions de l’auteur.

Jusqu’au 22 juin, le Grand Palais accueille les œuvres les plus emblématiques du San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, actuellement en rénovation, et de la collection Fisher. (Les Fisher étant nuls autres que les fondateurs de la marque Gap ! Quand on sait dans quelles conditions sont fabriqués ces vêtements…) L’exposition met en scène le travail des artistes suivants : Carl Andre, Alexander Calder, Chuck Close, Richard Diebenkorn, Dan Flavin, Philip Guston, Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, Cy Twombly et Andy Warhol.

Ellsworth Kelly SFMOMA 1

This weekend I saw the exhibition American Icons at the Grand Palais. I went there more out of curiosity than out of love for modern art, and I have to confess I was not impressed by the paintings at first sight. A second round to take pictures and reading the detailed guide convinced me otherwise. Let’s say it’s hard to appreciate this form of art when you are not aware of the artist’s intentions. The exhibition running through June 22nd shows iconic works from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art which is currently undergoing renovation. The featured artists are Carl Andre, Alexander Calder, Chuck Close, Richard Diebenkorn, Dan Flavin, Philip Guston, Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, Cy Twombly and Andy Warhol.

Ellsworth Kelly SFMOMA 2

Ellsworth Kelly

Philip Guston SFMOMA 1 Philip Guston SFMOMA 2 Richard Diebenkorn SFMOMA Donald Judd SFMOMA 1 Donald Judd SFMOMA 2 Donald Judd SFMOMA 3

Donald Judd, Untitled. Notice how the two columns create different impressions even though they are alike in form. The copper one seems light and fluid while the one in steel looks compact and heavy.

Roy Lichtentstein SFMOMA

Roy Lichtentstein. You can read my post about his exhibition at Centre Pompidou here.

Andy Warhol SFMOMA

Andy Warhol’s portraits of two American icons

Dan Flavin SFMOMA

Dan Flavin

Brice Marden SFMOMA My favorite painting of the exhibition by Brice Marden

A Brooklyn afternoon: cherry blossoms and Keith Haring graffitis

Last week I took the train to Prospect Park in Brooklyn to view the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, hoping to recapture a hint of my life experience in Japan. Sure enough, the Cherry Esplanade delivered its promise: bunches of pink cherry blossoms on the myriad of branches forming arches over the garden alleys; a rain of pastel petals whirling in the wind, dotting the field of grass.

Coincidentally I met my friend Carolyn from Ma Vie en Franglais there. We continued our tour of the garden together, wondering at the bright colors along the way. Don’t get me wrong, I hate gardening with a passion (I couldn’t even name the flowers pictured below) but if I need to relax, nothing’s better than a walk in a park.

Carolyn and I then made our way to the Brooklyn Museum to view the Keith Haring exhibition. One of the best-known American artists of the 20th century, Keith Haring was deeply inspired by graffiti. The exhibition focuses on the beginning of his career from 1978 to 1982, when his energetic street-art was ubiquitous throughout New York City.

A fixture of New York’s downtown culture, Haring befriended artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat. New York was quite a different city at the time: gritty, with a somewhat dangerous and creatively bustling energy. The amazing soundtrack of the exhibition stays true to the period with bands like The B-52’s, Blondie, Talking Heads and The Clash; you can listen to the iTunes list on the exhibition’s page.

The highlight of the exhibition was this impressively long mural. Carolyn wondered if Haring had painted it according to a plan or if he had improvised little by little given how detailed it is.

Apart from the background music, I really loved Haring’s sense of humor and his way of mocking the consumer society. I was also impressed to see how detailed his work could be. Finally, this quote from Keith Haring struck me as wonderfully true on art: “I am interested in making art to be experienced and explored by as many individuals as possible with as many different individual ideas about the given piece with no final meaning attached. The viewer creates the reality, the meaning, the conception of the piece. I am merely a middleman trying to bring together ideas.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour in Brooklyn! Now tell me, how did you spend your own weekend?

You can read Carolyn’s great post about our afternoon right here on her blog Ma Vie en Franglais.