One to Another

November 30, 2009

11/29/09 MoMA – Mirror.

Filed under: 2-Precedents, 3-Museum visits — pendantportraits @ 9:38 am

I began my afternoon at MoMA with “100 Years of Portraiture,” a gallery talk by Larissa Bailiff. In fact, during the one-hour excursion, we looked at portraits by just six artists: Warhol’s Golden Marilyn, Marisol’s LBJ, Spuerri’s Kichka’s Breakfast (a “snared painting”), Kahlo’s Fulang-Chang and I and Self-portrait with Cropped Hair, a Brancusi sculpture, and Picasso’s Three Musicians. Of note, money did not change hands between the artist and subject in any of these works (to the artist for creating the work or to the model for posing for the work).

Fulang-Chang and I, a companion set, was directly relevant to this project. To the right of the painting by Frieda with her beloved pet is a mirror in a matching, yet larger, frame. The wall text states that Frieda gave the work (both pieces) to a close friend (Mary Sklar) saying that she could simply look in the mirror if she wanted to be with Frieda.

In the nearby Self-portrait with Cropped Hair, Kahlo asserts her capacity to be without Diego. She writes, “Look, if I loved you it was because of your hair. Now that you are without hair, I don’t love you anymore,” a lyric from a Mexican song. I commented, “She is Samson to her own Delilah.” Rather than strength, she chooses to take away her love. In fact, Kahlo did not cut her hair; she didn’t need to — she did it in the painting.

There was a lot to see at MoMA today, including drawings from the Rothschild collection and the ever-wonderful permanent collection. The spot for Giacometti’s portrait of Annette, however, was filled by Bacon’s screaming pope.

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