Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Home Museums

It's funny to me that Sophie and I have such different museum methods. Do we all? The fingerprints of the art world, each one unique?

Me, now, I don't like to plan a museum. I like to stumble upon them, in the same way I like accidentally finding a great coffee place, or a beautiful spot in a park. I don't like the expectations a Good Museum has of me -- I don't know how long to stand in front of each painting, and it always seems like I'm going against the flow of other people. I linger in front of odd paintings where no one else even pauses, and I don't feel what I think I'm supposed to feel at the work in front of which people are queued for a glimpse. (It sounds as if I'm trying to be contrary or even pretentious, and I swear I'm not.)

I love modern. I love weird and mind-bending art, and there's nothing I like more than staring at a piece and having those two opposite thoughts run through my mind: My cat could do that! and Oh, my god, it's the most incredible thing I've ever seen! I like how that makes my brain feel like a collection of rubber bands, all sproinging off each other.

My favorite museum (one I go to on purpose, in fact) is the Peggy Guggenheim in Venice. It's actually her old home, filled with her favorite works, and I love it for its quirkiness. Inside, the most beautiful piece of art (I think) is the way the Grand Canal is framed out its metal-grate covered windows, and I would bet that Peggy felt the same way sometimes. She buried her dogs in her garden and then had herself interred there, too.

Married to Max Ernst (her money came from her father and uncle who perished on the Titanic), the home is full of works by his contemporaries, Dali, Picasso, and Pollack. My own favorite room is the Bosch room -- oh, those tiny wicked scurrying creatures, all doing nefarious things. I could stand in there all day looking at their little evil faces.

But it IS, of course, a Good Museum, and therefore, it is full of people who "know" things and speak knowledgeably about art in hushed voices, so soon I always escape out to the front, where the most infamous piece of art stands proudly in view of all passing water traffic: Marino Marini's Angel of the City. Completed in 1948, he was asked to sculpt it with a detachable penis (the song gets stuck in my head at this point), in order to avoid offending young ladies passing by, but it's reported that Peggy would remove it and chase guests around her home with it during parties.

Ol' Peggy had PLENTY o'love and lovers in her life, detachable penis or no, and I'm as intrigued by her home and her stories as I am by the art with which she surrounded herself. To me, THAT'S a good museum, all right, full of life and ribald humor and pathos and beauty. But then, that opens up the definition of museum to include all of our homes, don't you think?

I like that.


Sophie Littlefield said...

i want to go to a museum with *you*. And I love how you and Peggy have become friends, even around silly obstacles like time and death. Lovely.

Unknown said...

Love this. I so want to go Venice with you. :) I really like museums in homes too. It makes it all seem more personal. And of course then you can imagine the scenes and the stories that took place there.

Mysti said...

Wowzer! Expats are always so quirky ;)

Now I have a reason to go to Venice, thank you!!!

My fave museum (so far!) is the very small German one that houses the Nefertiti collection. They built the building around the collection. I love how the building caresses the art contained within.

Jeanne B. said...

Oh my goodness. Bosch AND "Detachable Penis" all in one post. This is how I know we'd be best pals (said in a non-stalkerish way). I love museums and Bosch totally rules.

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