October 25, 2008

Another day at the museum: The BMA, 10/25/08

Rainy day today, so I hit the Baltimore Museum of Art again. Since "a picture's worth a thousand words", I'll throw up a bunch before I toss out much in the way of my own words... (Be forewarned, this is a long'un)

The Visitation

Four-panel folding screen depicting the effects of the phases of the moon by Dario Cecchi, 1948

One of the coolest watches I've ever seen: Skull-form watch, ca1637-1658, French, steel

Head of Medusa door knocker, Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, ca1861-1929

Assorted landscapes, in oil (Jacob Van Ruisdael, Dutch, ca1628-1682)...

...and lithotint (James Durfield Harding, English, ca1854)...

...and crayon lithograph (Richard Parkes Bonington, English, ca1824)

One of the current special exhibits features the artist Franz West. The description of his work was, for me, more compelling than most of the actual pieces. As I wandered through the exhibit, I found myself repeating "what the fuck...?" over and over.

But then I got to the focal point of the exhibit, a work entitled "das Ich und das Es" (The Ego and The Id), which was designed and built specifically for the room within the BMA in which it was displayed. Note: Photography is not allowed in BMA special exhibits, so I nicked this shot from the museum's page about West.

This piece definitely intrigued me. The scale just isn't evident in this small image. And it's actually thought-provoking. From the description: "...the Latin term "ego" [das Ich]... means "the I". The task of the ego is to find a balance between primitive drives and reality. The term "Id" (inner desire) is a Latinized derivation of das Es, and translates into English as "It". The id is dominated by the pleasure principle." But which is which? Is ego's balance reflected in the uniform, soothing pink loops and id's chaotic drives in the riot of multiple colors? Or is it the reverse, ego finding its balance in a melding of colors, and id focused on throbbing pink pleasure? West apparently hasn't specified.

Moving on to the moderns: Man Pointing (Alberto Giocometti, bronze, 1947)...

...and There is No Finished World (Andre Masson, 1942)

The Three Rings, Henry Moore, red soraya marble, ca1966 (Both times I've seen this piece, I've wanted to put my hands all over it)

Modern, abstract art has always been a mystery to me, something that my visits to the BMA are helping me learn to appreciate. This piece is a prime example. To my uncomprehending eye, it's just a bunch of black smudges on a bright green background. Apparently, there's much more to it:

Metaphysical, huh? Who'da guessed?

And finally, The Baptism of Christ, by Louis Comfort Tiffany, ca1890-1899

After the museum closed, I headed over to the Papermoon Diner to fill my grumbling belly. The place is a riot, in more ways than one. It was hard to concentrate on the book I was reading, with so much stuff to look at around me. But the Eggs Benedict with ham and avocado were freaking fantastic.

Stopped for gas on the way through the city. As I got out of the car, a guy approached and asked if he could pump my gas. I'm probably a sucker, but after only minimal hesitation I said ok. He launched into a story about having just arrived from eight years out in Cumberland. Interesting coincidence, as I'd just vacationed out that way. His time there was apparently no vacation, as he'd just been released from prison and was only given a bus ticket as far as Baltimore. He was trying to raise enough cash to get some dinner (real food, not the prison "suey" he'd been living on) and a bus ticket to Glen Burnie and his grandmother's house. After the tank was filled, I gave him $5 and drove off wondering if I'd been swindled. Meh. There are worse things than being ripped off for $5. And if the guy was genuine, I wish I'd given him more.

Today was one more day in my love affair with Baltimore, a city that is terribly unappreciated. Following my tendency to associate music with places, I've come to identify Baltimore with the same elements I love about Maynard James Keenan and Tool, specifially their masterpiece album Aenima. Like that album, Baltimore contains some things that are beautiful, some things that are humorous and quirky, and some that are seamy, edgy and dirty. And all of those elements are shoved tight up against each other, often within the same song or neighborhood. It makes for a whole that is incredibly stimulating, if you take the time to really listen and look.


Something has to change.
Undeniable dilemma.
Boredom's not a burden
Anyone should bear.

Constant over stimulation numbs me
and I wouldn't have
It any other way.

It's not enough.
I need more.
Nothing seems to satisfy.
I don't want it.
I just need it.
To feel, to breathe, to know I'm alive.

Finger deep within the borderline.
Show me that you love me and that we belong together.
Relax, turn around and take my hand.

I can help you change
Tired moments into pleasure.
Say the word and we'll be
Well upon our way.

Blend and balance
Pain and comfort
Deep within you
Till you will not have me any other way.

It's not enough.
I need more.
Nothing seems to satisfy.
I don't want it.
I just need it.
To feel, to breathe, to know I'm alive.

Knuckle deep inside the borderline.
This may hurt a little but it's something you'll get used to.
Relax. Slip away.

Something kinda sad about
the way that things have come to be.
Desensitized to everything.
What became of subtlety?

How can it mean anything to me
If I really don't feel anything at all?

I'll keep digging till
I feel something.

Elbow deep inside the borderline.
Show me that you love me and that we belong together.
Shoulder deep within the borderline.
Relax. Turn around and take my hand.


BettyBetty said...

The skull watch and medussa head door knocker are out of this world! Did it say where the door knocker was used? Love me a good lithograph. I would never leave my house if I had such talent. Amazing amazing stuff.

KaliDurga said...

Yeah, I think there was mention of where the Medusa knocker had been used. I'll have to check on that next time I go.