Friday, we got up and had breakfast at a nearby diner, before heading back to Manhattan. First on my agenda was the Alexander McQueen 'Savage Beauty' exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of art. We had failed to predict that Friday would be a busy day there, thinking it would be a better choice than the weekend. We arrived at 10:30 and we should have arrived at 9:30, in hindsight. There was a huge line-up, meandering through all their ancient Near Eastern collection, to the late 19th century (Rodin through Pre-Raphealites) for at least half an hour. I felt a bit guilty as this was my agenda and Mom only had a vague idea of what it was all about. She knew a) he was dead and b) that his house had designed Kate's dress for the Royal Wedding. At least, the slow walk was through beautiful things - though standing is more tiring than walking. The exhibit was more than worth the wait! The video on the Met blog does show each room in the exhibit, but you don't entirely get the full sensory experience, of course. The collection was displayed according to theme (“The Romantic Mind,”, "Romantic Gothic," "Cabinet of Curiosities" - sure to be a hit with me, both as a wunderkammer and due to the incredible hats especially by Philip Treacy, "Romantic Nationalism" - Scottish, of course, "Romantic Exoticism" included the most beautiful Japanese-inspired embroidered silks, "Romantic Primitivism" and "Romantic Naturalism" which included his final jellyfish and snakeskins in computer-generated imagery on fabric and shoes). The curation and display of the clothing was very thoughtful; the displays were like theatrical sets and along with the music and other audiovisuals (film clips of fashion shows, lighting effects and one holographic film) really placed the viewer in a certain mindspace. I loved how he worked with anything: mud, clam shells, metal, glass, feathers of course, but also bone, antlers, resin replica gator heads, skins to hi-tech fabrics, all with impeccable tailoring. He seemed to take inspiration from everywhere (from natural history, to art history, to political history, Asia, to Africa to Scotland, it's all there). Such unfettered imagination is a rare thing. It's incredible he produced so much in a life too short.
All photos of the 'Savage Beauty' exhibit are via the Met blog and © Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce
We also passed by the special exhibit of contemporary artists re-interpreting African and Oceanian masks in centemporary materials, which was right up my alley. After the exhibit we had lunch in the cafeteria at the Met (very good, by the way) and decided to continue to the Guggenheim. Along the way it started raining unexpectedly (which was annoying since we had both left umbrellas at the hotel).
Unfortunately, the Guggenheim is in the midst of renovations so only part of its permanent collection was on view. When we finished, there was a full thundershower in effect. So, after attempting to wait it out in the store, we ventured out and then settled on hailing a cab. My mother did some shopping... or rather some trying on of clothing. Then, we ventured out again when the rain let up. I had said I wanted to get a suit (job interview and all) so Mom lead me to Ralph Lauren. I suspected this was mad, and that I would be unwilling to sell my internal organs for the price of a suit there. It turned out my fears were correct, but, it was pretty.
We meandered through the intermittent rain to the Lincoln Center. Mom had reserved tickets to War Horse. I didn't know much about it in advance, but Mom had be convinced at "giant horse puppet". We found a really good French restaurant across the street, where they sat us at a communal round table (like one might expect in Chinatown). I wore my dress all day, but carried heels in my purse, knowing that I would regret standing and walking in them all day.
The show was tremendous. The more-than-life-sized horse puppets, though stylized, were so naturalistic in movements and 'behaviour' that it was easy to suspend belief. Each horse was enacted by three actors, but felt like its own entity. The acting and singing was compelling. I also really enjoyed the sketches and simple linework black-and-white animation projected on a large white, cloudlike backdrop. The play tells the story of a horse, Joey, and his boy in the English countryside at the turn of the last century. The beloved horse is sold to the English Cavalry with the advent of WWI and the boy lies about his age to join up and try to rescue him. The writing was a bit manipulative of the audience I thought, but perhaps that is reflective of both the subject matter and its origins of a story for children (older children, I hope... warstories are by nature violent). Nonetheless it was great experience.
After the show it took a long time to get back to the hotel. We had decided on a route which would involve only two trains, but our B train never seemed to arrive though three 1's went by... so I made a new plan involving three trains and we made it back after midnight.