I’ve just returned from New York five pounds lighter, with blisters on every toe and no money. My legs are aching but I couldn’t be happier. On my feet are the coolest sneakers SF has ever seen, and I am the proud owner of Greater New York 2005, a book I would’ve given my left pinky form that I was able to purchase at half-price directly from its source, P.S.1, MOMA’s appendage in Queens. The book is the catalogue of a show I saw during my last trip to New York when I discovered that P.S.1 was my favorite museum. It’s a big abandoned school with worn brick stairwells and classrooms transformed into breezy, wide-open galleries. During my severely abbreviated trip, I saw more art than SF can shake a stick at in less than half a day. I love you, San Francisco, but, to state the obvious, New York has a lot more going on.
At P.S.1 I saw overflows from (and additions to) Olafur Eliasson’s Take Your Time exhibition. Most of the show is on view at MOMA. One addition was a room-filling, rotating ceiling mirror. People were strewn across the floor gazing up and it was quite lovely to find folks relaxing under art on a hot New York day.
Next I was off to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see Jeff Koons on the roof. His three large-scale, candy-colored mirrored stainless steel sculptures stood proudly above the city skyline, as decadent as the drink prices at the nearby rooftop bars. Yellow Dog was a little less impressive than his blue littermate I saw at BCAM in March, mostly because his shiny finish gets a little tattered with smog and raindrops when displayed outside. Met, you should polish that sucker. He’s probably worth at least 20 million. Fun fact: Last fall Koons broke the record for the most expensive work of contemporary art by a living artist sold at auction: 28 million. Funner fact: Lucian Freud beat him last month with a painting of a sleeping nude woman: 33 million. Koons’s record breaker was a giant shiny red heart hanging from a golden ribbon tied in a bow. One of the sculptures on the roof is similarly red with a gold bow but is more of a wrapped candy heart. It’s exactly what Godzilla would give for Valentine’s Day, fittingly placed within a big lizard’s reach on top of the museum.
Along with the heart and dog is a less bulbous sculpture. Like a giant Shrinky-dink, it appears as a child’s haphazardly crayoned cut-out of Piglet. Koons designed the image by inking a Winnie the Pooh coloring book page with magic markers, and then eliminating the black outline of Piglet to make the sculpture more abstract. It looked transparent at first glance, but was actually just reflecting the 360 degree view of skyscrapers. These were just a sampling of Koons’s extravagant Celebration series — one that began fifteen years ago and has involved much innovation from a contracted foundry, and upwards of eleventy million dollars in collector investment. The effort was worth it — my friend suggested we take photos of our reflections in the yellow dog’s shiny balloon butt: priceless.
Also at the Met was a fashion-meets-superhero exhibition. Impeccably crafted costumes worn by celebrities like Christopher Reeve, Tobey McGuire, and Rebecca Romijn, alongside countless couture designs from fashion magnates such as Alexander McQueen, made for a crowd-pleasing show. It’s always nice to stumble upon some costumes and pop culture amongst collections of ancient and renaissance everything. The Met is the easiest place to get lost in. Maybe it’s because I was trying to catch up with my friend and navigate the map at the same time, but it felt like a labyrinth. After triumphantly finding the aforementioned exhibits, we hightailed it down Museum Mile to get to the Whitney Museum of American Art.