Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Museum, museum

On Saturday, on a visit to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, I stopped at two art museums there, for a couple of hours each:

  1. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (The Clark), in Williamstown
  2. Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), in North Adams

The Clark was a delight! From the design of the buildings to the artwork inside, I enjoyed it completely. The new building housed two special exhibitions: one of Gainsborough, Constable, and Turner, and one of eighteenth-century French painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard. In the original building is the permanent collection, including a good collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art — my favourite era — as well as important American artists such as Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, and, Frederic Remington.

MASS MoCA was significantly less delightful. I’m a big fan of some types of modern art, but not the industrial sort of stuff that’s on display there, I’m afraid. You might remember my comments on the Dia Beacon museum from two months ago. MASS MoCA is rather similar, with “art” made from broken slabs of concrete, and from stacked-up box fans, with “art” presented as a video of the artist telling you that he hates his mother. There were some things of interest there — Spencer Finch’s What Time Is It on the Sun? is interesting, for instance — but overall, I was very disappointed, having wanted to visit this museum for quite some time. I’d expected it to be less like Dia Beacon, and more like MoMA (maybe because of the name, MoCA/MoMA). So, yes, very disappointed.

Of course, how could I not have checked out the web sites ahead of time, and known what to expect? D’oh!


Katie said...

Hmmmm. Would have thought you also actually liked Anselm Keifer.


Barry Leiba said...

I did like the Keifer paintings, actually... just not the "sculpture", here, the concrete-and-rebar thing.