In a way, the day fit together ingeniously, like a Chinese puzzle should do. After dropping Rosie off at school, S1 and I went to meet my friend S. at the Opera House where she was working, to meet her happy recently born son F. over a cup of coffee (having failed to do so in Brussels for the last many months, San Francisco seemed a good place to finally meet). We had a glimpse in the rehearsal, then left S. to her finetuning, and we tuned into an exhibition at the Asian Art Museum as curated by and with work by Hiroshi Sugimoto entitled History of History. It was a masterpiece in understatement, and of just the kind of finetuning I imagined S. to be doing a couple of blocks away in the big orchestra run-through with the singers, in tandem with our viewing. I realised (perhaps a little late in life) that I would never fit in in the classical music world. Must be something to do with its formality, although I do think it is a prerequisite for getting great works of music on the road. S. on the other hand has great patience and insight at many degrees, as well as a vivid poetic imagination and a profound sense of beauty, and that's why I think she is good at her job. But I am still studying my friend and hope to come up with a more comprehensive description of her sometime soon. As I do of her sister who also does extraordinary things.
After the Asian Art Museum (boy, if the US was as hugely sensitive and together on the world stage as it is in museology, what kind of a world would we be living in?)we headed for SF Moma. There, Jeff Wall revealed himself to be much more of a romantic, absurdist with an art historical bent turning photography in its end, than I expected. The audioguide helped significantly in accessing the works, although I had no idea his work was so diverse and that it looks so different from the reproductions I have seen of it. Size does matter...when it comes to art in any case.
S1, you then scooted away in time for picking up Rosie. I stayed. I went to Joseph Cornell's exhibit; it was almost too much: room after room after room after room of his universe. While I thought the Jeff Wall show was just right, let's say even modestly sized, Cornell's had me saturated with his vision. This is not a bad thing, and I can understand the curators' desire for offering something comprehensive. After I don't know how many rooms of his boxes I just needed to get out for some air. Stendhal syndrome no doubt.
After having the strange experience of having someone ask me if I preferred my green tea "grassy or flowery?" (I wanted grassy and it was grassy) I went back in for more, this time for Olafur Eliasson's exhibition. One optical phenomenon after another. What I liked very much is that he did not hide the means by which these phenomena were created. Naked truths as it were: it's sheer trickery, but such beautiful trickery.
One room, black, and dark but for a spotlight, had a curtain of fine droplets descending, creating a diagonal rainbow. I noticed not many people walked through it, because they didn't want to get wet. I am glad I did, because I got the present: as you walk through it, the rainbow becomes whole: a perfect circle. This is another rainbow showing the same effect since I was not allowed to take pictures in the museum.
Later I hit the streets and realised that all the Joseph Cornell boxes with their glitter had spilled out onto the street and followed me.
A final little treat: I did not know that Cornell had made films. He had. Here, in part one and part two, is one of the most mesmerising, ahead of its time films I have ever seen. He originally projected it through a piece of blue glass, and Dali is said to have knocked over the projector during the screening..so aghast was he that Cornell was doing something that seemed to him to be JUST RIGHT.
Cornell has often been described as an "outsider artist"; but what I learned in the exhibition, is that he assisted Marcel Duchamp in making his suitcases, and was a sort of protégé of his (Duchamp is said to have called him a genius) and that he frequented many other artists throughout his life. So whatever denegrating undertone is held in that term, outsider, is plainly untrue. I also found the works to have great coherence. I shall be reading more about the man, but the work really does speak for itself; I would venture to say that it was simply, to use a worn phrase, misunderstood and ahead of its time. In a wholly refreshening way. Or, before I slip into hagiography, let's just say I really enjoyed discovering the work even though the volume of it was a bit daunting.
Ok I shall leave it at this. I think I shall have some tea to soothe my second brain. This has become a url-packed posting, it does not even start to describe the inspiration of a friday in San Francisco. I had written this a couple of weeks ago and thought it had not been saved. Thank goodness for autosave!
love from s2