A short week in Manhattan gave me a chance to catch up on some shows between the fall and spring blockbusters. I was looking forward to “Beyond the Light” at the Met, because I’m a recent fan of the Danish 19th century, the Golden Age of Eckersberg, Kobke, Rorbye and up to Hammershoi. Unfortunately, the only paintings by these masters were from the Met’s permanent collection. The bulk of the exhibition was graphic work from SMK-the Danish National Museum. Nice, but nothing memorable. I was also hoping to see something from Peter Ilsted, whose print we had just hung in my NY bathroom. He was there, but only with a small portrait of Hammershoi, his brother-in-law. The big show at the Met, “Lives of the Gods: Divinity in Maya Art,” was also disappointing. It had academic/educational appeal, I guess, as it was organized thematically, showing how the Maya represented their most important gods, which also shed light on their culture. Most of the pieces, largely borrowed from provincial museums in Mexico with isolated loans from American institutions, were damaged, which is understandable but esthetically disappointing. There were only two works I felt like photographing, and one of those had been reconstituted.
The Neue Galerie had extended its display of Ronald Lauder’s personal collection, so I felt fortunate to see that. The main impression it left, however, was how much money Lauder had to spend on art. The fact that he had amassed his collection in the last ten years underlined that fact, but also meant there were, necessarily, few masterpieces. There also wasn’t much connection between different parts of the collection, which included armor, gold ground paintings, Roman busts, posters of Casablanca and the more expected German Expressionist paintings and drawings. Carl Moll’s White Interior was the most striking painting, and I enjoyed seeing the original drawing for an Alfred Kubin print now on view at SBMA.
I should note that I made my third visit to the Hopper show at the Whitney, this time to take an Andover-sponsored private tour with the exhibition curator, Kim —. She gave a wonderful tour, adding a fact here and there to my understanding. We had an interesting chat about the Hopper on loan from SBMA–a painting that Eik Kahng, understandably, said she didn’t know what to do with–and she confirmed me in my belief that the Addison loan was about the best thing in the show (and is on the catalogue cover). When I said how little I liked the last room with repetitive scenes of a woman alone in a sun-slanted room, Kim commented that while many visitors said the same thing, for others it was their favorite!