A Taster's Journey is a newsletter on food, wine and travel. After 15 years of studying, tasting, teaching, and selling wine, I created this newsletter to not only share my passion about wine, but of food and travel as well. Each month I hope to share wines that I am drinking, food that is in season, restaurants that I have enjoyed, and places I have traveled. Enjoy!"

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The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)

March 21st, 2005
Matisse's Dance

Matisse’s Dance

MOMA in N.Y.C. reopened this past November after a 2 year renovation. Japanese architect Yashio Taniguchi was selected for this design. The new space is nearly twice as large as the prior, allowing the museum to expand its collection, in addition to hosting more special exhibitions. This new design is crisp and clean, with white walls, large open atriums, and a huge glass wall that opens onto the Sculpture Garden. Although there may be many aspects of this architecture that are worthy of attention, I found that the design blended into the background, providing a clean white canvas which showcases the artwork.

This new museum contains over 150,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs, and design objects. The focus is on art from the very late 19th century to the present, and the result is one of the most comprehensive modern art collections in the world. The earliest artwork is from Paul Cezanne and Vincent van Gogh, which is like a segue from the Impressionist era to the more modern era. There are over 3,200 paintings and sculptures by such artists as: Picasso, Matisse, Pollack, Warhol, Miro, Dali, Johns, and Rauschenberg.

The building has six floors, with the fourth and fifth dedicated to paintings and sculpture. The fifth floor contains the earliest works, from 1880 to 1940. Here there is considerable attention given to Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. From this point, Modern art took several different directions and the museum tries to capture this by showcasing artists from different movements. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian, Joan Miro and Salvator Dali are all represented.

The fourth floor galleries present artwork created between the early 1940s and the late 1960s. Here is the most modern interpretation of art. Artists such as Jackson Pollack, Barnett Newman, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg are well showcased. Andy Warhol is another featured artist with a wall dedicated to his paintings of Campbell Soup cans. Actually there are 32 separate canvases representing the 32 varieties of soup available in 1962.

A few weeks ago I was reading an article in the N.Y. Times about an investor that bought several paintings. The two most expensive paintings were a Monet for $20 million and a Pollack for $ 58 million. Jackson Pollack was the first artist to utilize a new painting technique, he poured paint onto the canvas rather than using the more conventional paint brush. Obviously many in the art world admire Pollack for his “drip” technique, and characterize his work as “action painting”. I personally would have used the $58 million in other ways. For the Pollack fans, his One: Number 31, 1950 painting is showcased here at MOMA.

I must admit that I do not fully appreciate or understand all the art exhibited at MOMA, but am certainly impressed by the breadth of this modern art collection. Every time I return to MOMA I learn something new. Whether MOMA shocks you, educates you, or exhilarates you, you must go because it will certainly stimulate your senses.

Eating at MOMA

Although there are a couple cafes within the museum, I would recommend a more proper meal at The Modern, the restaurant on the first floor. The Modern was opened by famed restauranteur Danny Meyer. The chef is Gabriel Kreuther, who earned three stars for his French cuisine at Atelier. His background is Austrian, and you can see an Austrian/Alsatian influence in his menu. The appetizers were creative and diverse, ranging from homemade liverwurst to tagliatelle with chanterelle mushrooms and black truffles. The entrees were equally as good, the salmon with a horseradish crust being a personal favorite. The food was certainly above average, and surprisingly the price tag was very fair considering the midtown location.

The space is divided into two restaurants, decorated in a sleek minimalistic style, which seems appropriate being housed within MOMA. The front restaurant is is the Bar Room, which is filled with dozens of small tables, and is packed from noon till well after three. The back room is more formal, with larger tables and white tablecloths.This room has a huge plate glass window looking out over the Sculpture Garden. Presently this room is only open for dinner.

I feel the space is too cold, and is extremely hectic during lunch. I will return though, because with time, the crowds will ease, and the food was innovative and very well prepared.

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