Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Hallo from the Weltuntergang!
Greetings from the end of the decade, and from the looks of it, the end of the world! Life at the close of the aughts (oughts) is an untenable place, but bittersweet like everything else. It was the best of times (my blog, the Jersey Shore) and it was the worst of times (Joe Lieberman, my station in life) Staring down the barrel of this decade shows us two undeniable trends, and not silly New York Times Style trends like beer bellies on men and nasaly voices on female twee icons, like Kristen Schall and Sarah Vowell... but really, what is up with that? Twenty first century female Castrati in the name of quirk, if you ask me.
Oh yeah, so the ubiquity of vampire romance and apocalypse in the cinema must indicate something sinister about our modern moment, and whatever it is, it's not looking good. Finally! Something herein you can relate to! Sexy vampires and 2012 conspiracy theories!
Another marked trend in contemporary museum programming is a fascination with art from the Weimar Republic, which is actually the precise intersection of vampires and the apocalypse. The MOMA is currently showing and exhibit on Bauhaus. Designy stuff always makes me feel like an aesthete failure because I think it's boring, and I'm all, "If I wanted to look at tables and chairs and shit I would've gone to IKEA!" But if you too want to get your Deiter on, then check out "From Klimt to Klee" at the Neue Galerie.
My last dispatch from the Neue involved me beating my breast and crying for mommy in the middle of a gallery, the pictures were so scary.
And little has subsequently changed. Although a guard did inform me thaat it is strictly verboten to drape one's coat jauntily across one's forearm while perusing the galleries. Patrons must either put on or check their outerwear. I know I look skanky and shabby and should probably wear a snowsuit or burqua at all times, but come on now! Then I remembered where I was, a museum dedicated to the Germanic arts, so fascism is just part of the experience. Although if you ever visit Germany, any hausfrau or hinterwaldler will quickly remind you that Hitler was Austrian and Beethoven is German!
They say that the symbols of post- World War I Germany are the war cripple and the prostitute and you will certainly see those two along with many other unsettling and pervy images. Ok, full disclosure, the works from this exhibit are Weimar- ish, dating from the late 1800s til like the late 1930s or a few months ago or whatever, but give me a break, I'm promoting a thesis here! At any rate, the German raison d'etre is a constant quest for rules and regulation, for creating order in chaos. Sustaining that kind of anal retentive zeal results in inscrutable artistic subversion, like depictions of nude preteens and men in ladies' undergarments, for example.
You can find momentary solace in the elegant Enrst Kirchner woodcuts. Although enjoying these prints is like reading Raymond Carver: it seems too easy, so you must be missing something. You mean it's not just a story about getting wasted and drawing a cathedral with some blind guy?!
I wish it wasn't the case, but when I look at works like this finger painting thing by Paul Klee there will always be a tiny philisitine in my ear whispering something to the effect of "I coulda done that in pre- K! Why is that piece of shit in this museum?"
That impulse reminds me of what Joan Didion said about the Getty Museum in Los Angeles: "The Getty collection is in certain ways unremittingly reproachful, and quite inaccessible to generations trained in the conviction that a museum is meant to be fun, with Calder mobiles and Barcelona chairs." Except I feel like a member of the generation that came before that one, people wanted to see "'fine art,' in the old- fashioned didactic sense."
Harumph! So, put your inner- philistine at ease and go see this exhibit, if only because you will see things by men with immeasurably awesome names, like Otto, Egon, and Max (pronounced Mocks). Nuthin' wrong with that. And frolich weltuntergang to you and yours!