When I was in New York last week, I did more than lose my wallet–I visited three of the museums that make that city a cultural mecca. Let me be the first to say that what I know about art would fit comfortably on the head of a pin. I never took an art class in college and am ignorant of many aspects of art. Huge museums like the Louvre drive me crazy and that’s why I always gravitate to smaller places that I can wander around in for an hour or two before my attention span conks out.
The Frick is just about perfect as far as I’m concerned. It’s not too big and it encompasses an era that fascinates me–New York’s gilded age that Edith Wharton captured so perfectly in The Age of Innocence. It was the time when the old money of the original settlers of New York headbutted the newer riches of the robber barons named Vanderbilt, Rockefeller and Frick. Those men amassed huge fortunes, built fabulous houses and collected some of the world’s greatest art.
The Frick Collection is showcased in the 5th Ave. home the Frick family once lived in. There are works by Rembrandt, Titian, Renoir, Constable and Monet. But this was my favorite.
It’s called Lady Hamilton as Nature. Lady Hamilton–Emma–was quite the gal about town. She was born the daughter of a blacksmith and worked as a housemaid in her younger years. She also worked as an actress and model and was the muse of artisit George Romney who painted this picture. Emma was the consort and mistress of several influential men and eventually married Sir William Hamilton, British Envoy to Naples. While in Naples she met and became the mistress of Lord Horatio Nelson. She outlived both her husband and her lover and died deeply in debt. Ironically, the many paintings Romney painted of her are priceless today.
This is the kind of art I like. Art with a story. Most of the paintings I own have a story–they’re of a place I love, a place I’ve been, are painted by a friend or have been handed down. They’re personal.
The next day I visited MoMA–the Museum of Modern Art. I saw a shoebox on the floor…
…and four yogurt container lids glued to the wall.
I love yogurt, and I have quite a collection of empty shoe boxes.
I just never considered them art.