The Kirchner opening at MOMA was a little confusing

July 30, 2008 at 10:00 am (Uncategorized)

I took off last evening to go to the Kirchner opening at MOMA with Diane and her husband Frank. I have to say that my expectations were pretty low for a Tuesday opening in the middle of summer for an artist who is long dead – I kind of expected it would be a mellow affair, one where we’d be in and out of the museum in maybe 15 minutes.

Winds up it was this incredible party – jam-packed full of gorgeous people, full open bar, DJ, and Dali films beamed in over the main entrance (ok, I get it – Dali’s films are being shown right now, but it was definitely a weird little touch given that it was Kirchner’s big night). Funny – I haven’t gone out to a party in ages and found this one a little over the top. With the purple lights beaming in everywhere and the music blaring, it was a little more like Miami in December than NYC in July.

I’m not a huge Kirchner fan. I get that it’s an accessible show for the summer (Berlin street scenes) but I’m just not wowed by the work and I was actually surprised to see this huge fuss being made over what is actually a pretty small show. I do like his claustrophobic sense of space though – that was nice to see and be reminded of. His use of color is of course really terrific to see in person. But it remained a small show – not a retrospective by any means – tucked away on the third floor, sort of behind where the Becher’s photo show is.

The accompanying wall texts were extra-breezy and disappointing. I really feel like I showed up not knowing all that much about the artist and left not really knowing that much more about him. If anything, I felt weirdly congratulated by the show, as in “Good job! you already know everything there is to know about this artist and there’s not much more we have to add!” which was a weird way to feel. And it’s wrong, too – I truly don’t know that much about Kirchner and it certainly would have been easy to give me a little more meaty info than what was provided.

So the show was kind of meh – ok for a summer show, but I’m setting my sights on Marlene Dumas (very excited for that) and not really getting too attached to what’s up right now. But the party was surprisingly great.


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