Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Brooklyn Museum

I got a little ahead of myself, posting the video and mentioning the adventure I had driving to my hotel from Milwaukee. (Keep in mind I drive maybe 3 miles in a week, on city streets, in the daytime. I hardly ever drive on the freeway, even less on country roads, and rarest of all, in thunderstorms. It was quite the adventure.)

Earlier that day I had time in the morning to visit the Brooklyn Museum. I knew I wanted to thanks to the New York Public Library Blog. Did I mention that already? Unfortunately, I did not have the time to visit the tunnel from Brooklyn to London. That might have been fun, but more so with kids or at least with someone to laugh about it with. I heard about that from the same blogger who told me about the Murakami exhibit.

There has been very little about anime or manga that has appealed to me, so I thought this would be interesting but wouldn't necessarily hit me where art hits me, but it did. For one thing, I learned Murakami isn't just about marketed Japanese pop art, including mass-marketed stickers, but about deeper elements of fine art. One of the first pieces I saw were two anime characters, life-size male and female...he with...oh, just go here and click on exhibit 1. Really, go there. I thought, Oh, those poor inhibited parents who thought this was cartoons for kids. They'll be covering eyes today. The artist says something in the video about wanting to shock Japanese audiences. I saw those jagged white whirlwinds an abstract painting, and that bumped it up for me. How often do artists give you clues in one piece about the meaning of an image in another piece? (Maybe they do and I don't know it.)

I was impressed with the threads of Buddhist thought I saw in the art. I could not take photos in the exhibit, but Mr. Pointy was in the lobby.

Mr. Pointy is obviously a bodhisattva, but a bodhisattva unlike any I've seen before. I couldn't wait to share the photos with my Dharma school kids.

The museum has a neat time-lapse video of Mr. Pointy being reborn here.

Other stuff by Murakami made me think, well that's funny, this is Japanese psychedelia. There are mushrooms, distorted images, stuff coming out of heads, heads upon heads (that's also a Buddhist thing) and I liked it a whole lot more than American psychedelic art. I found it interesting there was no mention of drugs in the descriptions. It had to be there though, at the very least, homage to psychedelia. Taken as a whole, when I compare this to my impression of American psychadelia, I get the feeling Murakami is more comfortable with these natural forces of the internal human mind. He depicts them as teenagers. They can be raw, primitive, yet have a childlike innocence.

I liked his Warhol-esque treatments of some of his characters, and I really liked his series on Bodhidharma. They were selling limited edition prints, but the postcards worked well enough for me. Each print had a quote with it, too bad not all the postcards included the quote.

This one says, "That I may time transcend, that a universe my heart may unfold."

Regular readers must know why I like that one.

That wasn't all though. I was there just in time to catch the Utagawa exhibit. By this time I was a bit fatigued. I'd been walking everywhere, including a large percentage of the Met Museum the day before.

I learned in this exhibit that it was kind of common for big-name Japanese artists to create erotica. So that explains Murakami a little too. One that caught my eye was based on The Tale of Genji. Who knew that modern-day porn borrowed from Japanese art with their puns on well-known mainstream titles?

I quickly toured around The Dinner Party and Ghada Amer. A person could spend a day just on that, but I had a plane to catch. Of course I also visited the regular exhibits of the museum. I could take pictures in the regular collection. You can see my complete Brooklyn Museum photo set here. It includes some of the subway station art.

I was delighted to see a print I own in
the Utagawa exhibit. I won it as part of a fund-raising raffle. In the exhibit, I got to see three versions of it at different stages in the printing, starting with washes and ending with detail.

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