One New Thing: December 2012

Fearful that I was becoming horribly dull, I committed to Do One Thing I Have Never Done Before (“DOTIHNDB” for short) each month in the New Year. Because I am me, I started in December.

The always game Miss Karen and I decided to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Warhol, Matisse and Bernini exhibits (a.k.a , From the Ridiculous to the Sublime).

Let me to start with the sublime. The Bernini exhibit consisted of sketches and small terra-cotta models of some of the artist’s greatest works, including the Four Rivers Fountain in the Piazza Navona and the Chair of Saint Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica, both in Rome. It was absolutely breathtaking. Motion and emotion frozen in marble. Such attention to detail. I was particularly struck by a sketch Bernini did of the back of an angel later carved for the Tomb of Pope Urban VIII (see below) – probably something no one has seen for centuries except the Vatican cleaning lady.

The Warhol exhibit included not only Warhol’s works but the works of some of Warhol’s contemporaries and artists influenced by him. On some level I get Warhol, there is a whimsy and mirror-to-society self-consciousness that works. Warhol was notoriously coy about the meaning of his art and I think I understand why: he was suppressing a giggle that the world was taking him seriously. But the exhibit occasionally went off the rails. For example, one work (cross my heart) was three bundles of newspaper titled, “Lithograph and Twine”.  I know it was an exhibit and not recycling because there was tape on the floor. Another goofy work was (allegedly precisely) 175 pounds of colorful, individually wrapped hard candies. On the floor. In a corner. With a sign saying, “Take One”. It was hard to tell if the museum was pulling our leg and a later exhibit would be titled, Video of Pretentious People Looking Seriously at a Pile of Sweets.

The museum itself is astonishing. Sculptures by Rodin and paintings by Picasso and Renior are almost part of the furniture. It is a walk through greatness.

A travel hint: when you arrive at the museum, buy your admission tickets and then go to the “Membership” table nearby. The Membership lady credited the admission purchase and charged an additional $20 for me to become a one-year member. This gave both Miss Karen and I discounts for the audio guides, access to the Member’s Dining Room and 20% off a meal in the dining room.

The Member’s Dining Room is on the 4th floor. It is beautifully decorated and furnished and overlooks Central Park. We did not have a reservation, so we had to wait until 2 p.m. for a table, but it was worth it. There is a prix fixe three course menu on Sundays (served with a complimentary Prosecco) and the food was absolutely delicious. The 20% discount on the check paid for the $20 Membership Fee. Sweet! Just like my Panna Cotta dessert.

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