New York - Times Square New York - Time Warner building New York - Columbus Circle from the Time Warner building

There I was – first time in New York city, where the skyscrapers were closing in on me and the black iron fire escape stairs on the apartment building were giving the city a rather gloomy look. The city where thousands of pedestrians never look at the traffic lights before crossing the street, where for every two-three New Yorkers there is a taxi cab. This was the city with hundreds of places that are known all over the world, and I was trying to capture and visit as many of them as I could in that short period of time I had after finishing my work and before going to sleep.

New York - Queensboro Bridge Needless to say that I had only 3-4 hours of sleep there, but at least I managed to walk across the Times Square, Columbus Circle, paid a visit to the Strawberry Fields in the Central Park across John Lennon’s Dakota building, saw the famous Brodway theatre and Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, and even visited my friends on the Roosevelt Island, by taking a ride on the cable car, 250 feet above the East River, going almost parallel to the Queensboro Bridge. Oh, I know, there’s so much more to see in the Big Apple, and I do hope I’ll have a chance to go there again.

New York - Times Square Ads I’ve never been bombarded with so many ads on the streets before. I’ve never even seen so many variations of the street ads on the city buildings. They were all there – the huge tall posters with celebrities and various endorsements, wide ads for the recent movie blockbusters, full blown commercials and news on the gigantic flashy screens. I was walking down from the 50th Street and Broadway to the 34th, looking for the Times Square expecting to see an actual big Square, but never finding it. Well, now I know that Times Square is not your typical Square (as in Moscow’s Red Square or Trafalgar Square in London), that it’s just a major intersection “at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets. The Times Square area consists of the blocks between Sixth and Eighth Avenues from east to west, and West 40th and West 53rd Streets from south to north”.

MOMA - The Museum Of Modern Art On my last evening in New York I did manage to go to The Museum Of Modern Art and spend almost three hours there after work before heading back to the airport. I guess this was the biggest highlight of my trip to New York. I even got a free entrance there by getting a Free Friday night ticket to the museum, sponsored by Target. Oh, you should’ve seen hundreds of people in the line up there, waiting to either check in or check out their backpacks. I wish I’ve had more time to explore all those precious gems of the modern art.

Van Gogh - The Starry Night Many years ago I saw hundreds of Van Gogh’s paintings in Amsterdam at the Van Gogh museum. I was looking for his most magnificent work of art – The Starry Night – but I couldn’t find it there, until I looked up in one of the books at the museum that said that this particular painting is featured in New York. I remember thinking back then – when will I be able to see it there. So when I got to the Museum of Modern Art in New York and saw in their booklet that The Starry Night is hanging on the 5th floor, I immediately went straight up, ensuring that this would be the first painting I look at in the museum. You could find it there very easily, as it was the only painting in the entire museum that was surrounded by a huge crowd of Van Gogh’s admirers.

Salvador Dali - The Little Theater I could’ve easily spend hours of soaking up the colours and studying the brush strokes of Vincent’s masterful hands, but there were so many other paintings that I was eager to see. One of them was The Little Theater by Salvador Dali. It was a stunning work of art – a multi-layered painting of a theatrical maquette, “composed of eleven painted glass panes that juxtapose several distinct and peculiar worlds”. The photo doesn’t do it a justice, you should see it in person in order to appreciate its magic essence and for a moment get transferred to somewhere out of this world.

Barnett Newman - Vir Heroicus Sublimis I was walking open-mouthed from one room to another, until I got to this huge red canvas, a painting called “Vir Heroicus Sublimis” by Barnett Newman. What is this doing here, among all those great paintings by Cezanne, Gauguin, Picasso, Léger, Chagall and others? I had to read the excerpt about the artist and the painting: “The very title of this painting—in English, “Man, heroic and sublime”—points to aspirations of transcendence.” Newman wanted the viewers to stand very close to the painting and see themselves in there. After researching a bit about the artist I found out that “Even when he was ignored, Newman aimed his art at museums. He promoted his monochrome fields of paint, which bear one or more of the vertical stripes that he termed ‘zips’, with grandiose rhetoric.” Turns out that Newman destroyed almost all his work produced before the age of forty, and started to paint in a new direction. Apparently the paintings of Barnett Newman are more frequently subjected to physical assault than any other objects in modern museums. It’s not that surprising if you can visualize a humongous canvas painted in a saturated red colour, wouldn’t you feel challenged like a bull when a feisty matador flashes the red handkerchief in front of his eyes?

Cy Twombly - The Italians Then there was another painting by Cy Twombly, titled “The Italians”. The only thing on this artwork linking it to Italy was the word “roma” written underneath the artist’s signature at the top right. The rest of it was nothing but childish scribbles that resembled the drawings of my not yet three year old daughter. The excerpt on the museum’s wall said that those graffiti–like marks revealed “the artist’s sensuous joy in manipulating his medium”. Wouldn’t you think that an artist could’ve learned his medium by the age of 33, that’s how old Twombly was when he did this drawing? Later I found out that in 1953 Twombly served in the army as a cryptologist. That definitely explains the artist’s style.

Vasily KandinskyDon’t get me wrong, I like abstract art. Take for instance Vasily Kandinsky. If you show me a three year old who draws like Kandinsky, then you’ve definitely found a genius in that child.
Yes, his paintings also contain no obvious objects (the artist himself even coined the expression “nonobjective painting”), but it’s that mastery execution of lines, the superb eye for colours that make me want to look at his paintings for a long periods of time devouring every inch of those spectacular works of art.
“Color is a means of exerting direct influence upon the soul. Color is a keyboard. The eye is the hammer. The soul is the piano, with its many strings”, said Kandinsky, and it is a pure joy to be listening the magic music that pours from those colourful canvases.

What do you think of the Modern Art? Who are your favourite artists and paintings?

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8 Insightful Bits in response to “A Canadian In New York”

  1. You brought up some memories for me. I haven’t gone to the Museum of Modern Art, but I’ve gone to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and it was a lot of fun.

    It is amazingly huge. I don’t remember many specifics because its been years, but I think I went and saw some Byzantine Art exhibit which was really interesting. Also had a chance to see some great paintings and sculpture.

    The one problem I have visiting New York is that driving/parking/navigating is so hard for me. I get lost easily even in small cities.

    It would be nice to visit the Museum of Modern Art sometime.

  2. Wow! Sounds like you had a pretty good time exploring “The City”. Times Square is a real trip sometimes — I always got a kick out of standing on the islands and just watching people go every which way. One time, I even got to experience the “Naked Cowboy” performance.

    I never did make it to any of the museums… I wish I had though. As far as modern art goes, I can’t say that I have a strong opinion one way or the other. I can appreciate most “art” that I encounter, and looking through tons of photos every day has definitely had an impact on my views of art. I’m finding that I’m more open to and accepting of different forms and styles of art as time goes by.

  3. Anne Campbell

    The Museum of Modern Art is a treasure of some of the world’s finest art. Personally I love Dali and black and white photos from the 1930′s.
    In the relatively small area of Manhattan lie some of the world’s greatest museums.

    You managed to see a great deal in a short time.

  4. Vivien

    Hi Chris. I also wanted to go to the Metropolitan museum, it was actually pretty close to where I was staying in NY, but just didn’t get the time for it :-( I got to MOMA just because on Fridays it’s open till 8pm, otherwise it was closing at 5:30pm, just when I was finishing my work.

    Brian, what means you “got to experience the “Naked Cowboy” performance”?
    I’m too open to different forms of art, but not necessarily accepting all of them. Sometimes I find it more interesting to learn about the artist then look at his art.

    Hi Anne. I too loved the b&w photography section in the museum, but unfortunately didn’t have much time left to check out all the gallery rooms. Yes, I did manage to see a lot in NY, though there’s certainly much more to see. So I definitely look forward to future trips to NY :-)

  5. LOL Vivien. Do a Google Search for “naked cowboy” and you’ll see what I mean. No joke, it was the middle of November and this guy was out performing.

  6. Vivien

    gosh… What’s next?… No, I haven’t seen that naked cowboy performing on Times Square, nor his half naked cowgirl. I guess he’s there during the day only, while I was getting out only in the evenings after work.
    So funny – turns out he didn’t pass American Idol auditions, nor America’s got talent :-)

  7. You seem to have a wonderful time in New York. You must have seen a lot of new things. Love the works of art. Van Gogh’s Starry Night is no doubt a classic.

  1. Inspired To Write A Song » Inspiration Bit

    [...] at the top of my all time favourite songs list. I’ve already written a bit about having a soft spot for Vincent Van Gogh, and this song like no other biographical book about the artist deeply touches my heart. Don [...]

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Hi, I'm Vivien. Thanks for visiting my Inspiration Bit. I often find myself scouring the internet looking for either answers to many questions I have or websites that inspire me, sites that I can learn from. On what topics you might ask — any topics that interest me, anything from web design to typography and art, from blogging to entrepreneurship, from programming to open source.
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When I'm not blogging, I design web sites, teach, play with my daughter and try to balance family, work, friends and a somewhat active social life on