This past Sunday, the wonderful, always energetic Dean Nazario took a group of Honors Students to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. An art enthusiast, Dean Nazario wanted students to participate on this trip to see the Francis Picabia exhibit. For those of you in colloquium, you missed out on a fun, HP-sponsored event which counts as one of the needed colloquium events.
Here’s a description of the exhibit from the MOMA’s website:
Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction is a comprehensive survey of Picabia’s audacious, irreverent, and profoundly influential work across mediums. This will be the first exhibition in the United States to chart his entire career.
Among the great modern artists of the past century, Francis Picabia (French, 1879–1953) also remains one of the most elusive. He vigorously avoided any singular style, and his work encompassed painting, poetry, publishing, performance and film. Though he is best known as one of the leaders of the Dada movement, his career ranged widely—and wildly—from Impressionism to radical abstraction, from Dadaist provocation to pseudo-classicism, and from photo-based realism to art informel. Picabia’s consistent inconsistencies, his appropriative strategies, and his stylistic eclecticism, along with his skeptical attitude, make him especially relevant for contemporary artists, and his career as a whole challenges familiar narratives of the avant-garde.
Francis Picabia features over 200 works, including some 125 paintings, key works on paper, periodicals and printed matter, illustrated letters, and one film. The exhibition aims to advance the understanding of Picabia’s relentless shape-shifting, and how his persistent questioning of the meaning and purpose of art ensured his iconoclastic legacy’s lasting influence.
I am not in colloquium, but I have not been to the MOMA since my freshman year, so I decided to go for the fun of it. The night before, I watched a brief video of the exhibit curator describing the artwork and the artist. I found this very helpful for when I went to the museum for I understood a little more about what I was going to look at.
As we get older, we go through different phases of life in terms of our perspectives on things, our jobs, our relationships, etc. And in the Francis Picabia exhibit, I loved how we could see how his perspectives and what he found important and focused on changed over the years through his artwork. Sometimes when we think of an artist, we think of their particular style, mistakenly forgetting that they may have experimented with a variety of styles over the course of their lifetime. Witnessing Picabia’s different styles, his growth, his transformation, was most enjoyable for me.
Other exhibits in the museum included a floor dedicated to artwork from the ’60s. Fun, funky, and full of color, my eye was constantly darting around the room. This floor had a few activities for little kids to work their imagination and creativity skills, which I found incredibly adorable and heartwarming.
Some forms of modern art I just don’t understand. It’s message often flies over my head and I just don’t understand how or why it was able to secure and exhibition room in the museum. It is because of my inability to comprehend and truly appreciate some forms of the more contemporary modern art that I find myself drawn to the more “traditional” paintings of the artists I grew up learning about in elementary/middle/high school art class such as Picasso, Matisse, Frida Kahlo, Van Gogh, et al.
I was so jazzed to see these artists and more in an ongoing exhibit on the 5th floor. To see paintings such as Starry Night right before my eyes was unreal. I’ve seen this piece in every year of art class since I was 5; I’ve seen someone do their own version of it by swirling paint in a container of water; I’ve even seen a cake’s attempt to mimic this famous painting.
I’ve never been so excited to be at the MOMA. I think it has something to do with being older — I appreciate it more.
Whenever you get the chance, I recommend going to the Museum of Modern Art because it is a great place. You will have a good time, perhaps not as good of a time as Francis Picabia riding a little cart.