NOTE: Not my photos - online images of some of the photos we saw.
27 March 2013
We went to Perth, to the Art Gallery of Western Australia. The director of the museum was formerly the director or curator of MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. So the two museums have become partners, sharing exhibits back and forth.
This exhibit, "Picturing New York," is the story of New York City, portrays the development of New York City in the Industrial Age, through photographs by names such as Alfred Stieglitz, Richard Avedon, Margaret Bourke-White, Imogen Cunningham, Diane Arbus, Walker Evans, Lewis Hine, Weegee, Cindy Sherman.
And at the same time New York was being memorialized as a city, photography was moving from being a new technology to being an independent art form.
This exhibit chronicles both: how photography recorded New York and portrayed the city to the world, and how New York shaped the photographers who recorded it to create a new art medium.
It was incredible. The photographs spanned the late 1800s through to current photos. Imagine seeing welders on the frame of the Empire State Building. Or the floats for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade being filled during wartime, so that the taxi going by is driven by a woman.
Like the Impressionists, these photographs capture a moment in time, a moment in history - but they also capture the mood of the city, the people, the place, the sights, the sounds - everything but the tastes and smells of New York.
There were the usual architectural landmarks, like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Chrysler Building. Even the United Nations building. People like Mayor Fiorello kissing a baby, or the Duke and Duchess of Windsor on a visit to the city.
And there were moments in time, caught on film - the collapse of a building, a subway accident, workers saving artwork from MOMA after a fire. The Yankees beating the Dodgers in the World Series. Willie Mays sliding in to home plate just as the catcher caught the ball. A full beach at Coney Island. Anonymous revellers at Times Square on New Year's Eve. Moments that are forever caught on film.
I didn't recognize my parents in any of the photos, though they were in the city for the time frame of some of the photos. Richard and I both recognized places, streets, locations, the feel of the city.
It was wonderful! We had a great time, both of us. Absolutely wonderful! Sort of nostalgic, while also being informative, artistic, familiar, unfamiliar - just one of those times when all elements of an exhibit come together to make it fun and interesting and personally meaningful.
And interactive! We had the opportunity to have our photo taken with a New York City backdrop, and of course I had to do that. Not that it's a great photo, but it just fit.
We also started chatting with one of the docents at the gallery, and ended up having a wonderful dinner with him. He was very interesting, very nice, we had a great time talking and sharing stories and experiences. Plus we could ask all our stupid American tourist questions, such as are there koalas and kangaroos anywhere around Perth, other than in the zoos and sanctuary parks.
Just because life is uncertain, it took us two hours to get home. Well, maybe over two hours. One of those things when the commuter rail line was being worked on, we had to take a bus to a different station, then wait for that train, the schedule was all messed up and delayed - that kind of thing. But the good part is that we commented on the mess to someone sitting near us - and we recognized him as our bus driver from the previous day, the nice patient driver who explained the best route, the daily pass to get the best price, the weekend pass to save money - he was as confused as we were, and he was heading to Rockingham too, so we had a nice time chatting with him. Amazing - four days in the Perth area and we already have two friends!
It was a fabulous day - we both had a wonderful time!