Thursday, July 30, 2009

Francis Bacon, Michelangelo, and Pearl the Possum

We're heading off for vacation soon, and I've put my vacation responder on, and we already started, yesterday! We went to the Metropolitan Museum, and walked back through the park with thunder threatening, a continuing sticky hot miserable day.

But the museum was cool, in all senses, and the subway and NJ Transit have air conditioning. Actually, in the 20 years since we've been living in the 'burbs, the NY Subways have improved their service a lot.

But I digress. We started with a Francis Bacon retrospective, which Andy really hated—saying all the people looked like open-mouthed lampreys, which is hard to disagree with. Open mouths and screaming popes. I was fascinated, but find Bacon very detatched, and a kind of silence surroundihg his screams. Does that make sense? The crucified sides of beef or maybe lovers have always seemed a little histrionic to me, but I was moved by the portraits, isolated twisted people with demoiselle d'avignon heads centered in the middle of nowhere. Also in the earlier paintings, the white and yellow lines suggesting boxes and prisons around the figures—anyhow, I was fascinated, Andy repelled.

I just read Wikipedia's piece on Bacon which sketches out a lot of what I wanted to know: sickly childhood, descendant of older half brother of Francis Bacon the Elizabethan scholar, self-made furniture designer and interior decorator. “Gentleman's companion.” Rough trade boyfriends (with a wiki link to “rough trade,” which apparently has more to do with class than style of lovemaking—who knew).

We tried out the new American Wing cafeteria, then stepped over to the Augustus Saint-Gaudens exhibit, which was a funny contrast to Bacon, although both were born in Ireland. Saint-Gaudens has some nice work, especially his relief portraits, and it's always fun to learn something about the makers of public monuments, but this exhibit was too aligned with the robber barons for my taste-- allthough I don't suppose there'd be my beloved museum without their rapacious collecting.

We saw more, a seventies and eighties exhibit with some fun Cindy Sherman stuff and others, and at the very end, “Michelangelo's earliest Painting.” What a trip! It was a Torment of St. Anthony recently cleaned in stunning clarity of colors, beautiful little piece, monsters and rocks-- a thirteen year old genius's work, so bright and happy and thirteen year oldly enthusiasm for the ugly! See the detail of some tormenters above.

And then! At home, rain! and on the back porch, sleeping between the porch screen and the outsdie banister from before the porch was screened-- a small opossum! I called her (just guessing) Little Pearl the Possum, and she opened her long pink mouth and hissed and then went back to sleep. Slept thorugh storm, me reading, and finally left when Andy sprayed her with water. Something very sweet about that rough prickly furred side rising up and down in sleep. So relaxed.

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