Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dispatches from the Front Lines

Okay.  Imagine you've had a magnificent Chippendale desk in the family for centuries.  And your father, in his dotage, sends it out to be cleaned by some local hack.  And the act of cleaning it, even though it cleans up nicely -- what with being made of the finest wood, etc. -- reduces its value at auction from, say, ten million dollars to, say, one hundred fifty thousand.

The good news is that it's an heirloom, and nobody was going to sell it anyway.  But still, sometimes things are better left alone.

I sent my boy Eric to MoMA to report on the rehanging of "One - Number 31, 1950", the flagship Pollock that MoMA has been cleaning, repairing, etc. for the last couple of years.  Fun article about it in the NYT is here.  Be sure and click on the slide show for the good pics.

My dialogue with Eric, stretched over two emails, went like this ...

"Did it look different?  Like technicolor?"
"Very different."

Here's what it used to look like ...
Here's an illegal photo of how it looks now ...

I'll say this about my reporter:  He's a man of few words, but if you need a photo taken of a painting in a place where everyone says "NO PHOTOS ALLOWED" in a loud voice if you're caught doing so, he's your man.

His personal specialty is the Larry Gagosian Gallery, where they are like storm troopers with the no-photos-allowed business.

Read this by Michael Kimmelman about the restoration of the Sistene Chapel.  Same thing, really.  Although they didn't have to work on their backs.

I'm not sure I don't like it better the old way.

They say that when you open a bottle of, say, 1937 Chateau d'Yquem, that those seventy-five years in the bottle have darkened it; that it's the color of tobacco juice.  Then you taste it.  And you stand, dear friends, in that brief moment it takes for the first sip to slide down the back of your tongue, face to face with God Himself.  And all the secrets of the Universe are revealed.

Cue The fucking Doors.

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