The week I started this blog, I flew across the country to the furthest, greenest corner to visit a university friend, Jane. She lives on San Juan Island, which is off the coast of Washington state and is so far north that its residents can see Canada.
After reaching the island by a teeny six-seater plane, I stayed in her cosy cabin, took hikes and boat trips, and generally marveled at the beautiful, still life she has there.
Earlier this month, Jane made the reverse trip and landed in New York for the weekend. And for some reason, we agreed it would be a great idea to take her from that quiet, gentle life and drop her slap bang in the middle of Midtown. Around noon. On the weekend. She actually had to hold on to me.
But the pain was for a gain. We were heading to the Museum of Modern Art on 53rd Street to see Henri Matisse’s cutouts, a much-anticipated exhibition that opened at the start of the month and runs through February.
I haven’t been to MoMA since I pretended to be The Scream last year, but part of the draw for me is always the amazing building – its sheer space and the views it gives you of the surrounding streets.
For Matisse’s show, we had to order tickets online and once there, we joined a fast-moving queue.
The cutouts were a colorful sight to take in on a grey day, but the most interesting part for me was learning how Matisse put them together.
After a brush with cancer in 1941, he was confined to a wheelchair but quickly found his ‘seconde vie’ – second life – through this new project. From his wheelchair, he sliced and diced paper to create cartoonish plants, animals and figures. He then instructed his glamorous Russian assistant (named Lydia, incidentally) to move the paper shapes around for him until he was happy with how they sat.
The new mode – which he called ‘painting with scissors’ – gave him freedom he’d never allowed himself before. And the results were simple but uplifting.
I liked this one best:
Afterwards, we popped our heads into a few other exhibits, where I had a good laugh at people taking life far too seriously –>
As the winter draws in, this is a perfect rainy day activity. But make sure it’s a rainy week day – MoMA is always packed at the weekends. It was overwhelming for me, so I’ve no idea how Jane dealt with it. Next time I think we’ll meet back in Washington.
For more info visit MoMA here.