Daisy on NYC’s Modern Art

At the end of February, Documenting Fashion’s MA class took a study trip to New York. Homecoming for some and the first time in America for others, these few days were outstanding, and we are excited to share our highlights with you. 

One of the things I was most looking forward to about our trip to New York was visiting the city’s many amazing museums and galleries, and NYC did not disappoint! The Modern and Contemporary galleries at The Metropolitan Museum of Art absolutely blew me away. They have an incredible collection of works by Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard, which really complement the beautiful collection at The National Gallery in London. Having seen Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at The National, it was amazing for me to see how he depicted similarly vivid colours in Irises and Roses, both of which were painted whilst he was a patient at the asylum at Saint-Rémy. One of my favourite finds was a wall label for Cézanne’s Still Life with Apples and Pears, which detailed how he once proclaimed ‘with an apple I want to astonish Paris’. The Met also has a brilliant array of works by American artists, which you rarely get to see on permanent display in Britain. Having never seen a painting by Jackson Pollock or a Mark Rothko before (except in photographs) I now feel that I am a fully qualified expert! 

Left to right: Vincent van Gogh, Irises, 1890, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Apples and Pears, ca. 1891-92, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), 1950, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Having written an essay on Les Demoiselles d’Avignon in the third year of my BA, I couldn’t wait to see the original at MoMA. On my way to the Cubism rooms, I passed by Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory, van Gogh’s Starry Night and a Water Lilies series by Claude Monet – just to mention just a few!  Often seen as the first truly Cubist painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is monumental in real life, nearly filling the large gallery walls and attracting a huge crowd. It is interesting to observe in galleries how everyone (myself included) gathers around the most ‘famous’ pieces, but, while I loved seeing the famous names, it was almost more exciting to see and love work by artists I had never previously heard of. I feel like I only scratched the surface of what New York has to offer – The Met is absolutely vast – and definitely feel that I now have a valid excuse to make a return trip to explore further. 

Left to right: Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907, MoMA.
Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889, MoMA.
Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1914-26, MoMA.