When the elevator opens on the third floor, there is a big stripe across the wall. Except no, there isn’t a stripe on the wall, people are walking up to, and under, the stripe, and it isn’t a painting, people are in the painting, and it’s not a painting. The last piece I saw that I loved like that was a bunch of string strung, and it made my eyes go crazy confused. This was better. You could complain that conceptual art or installation art can be a lot of bullshit (it can be), but to get the feeling, for a second, that the world is bigger and too complex for your eyes, that was a second of freedom.
As are the four or five Arthur Dove pieces they had up, I can only assume because they knew I was coming. One is an assemblage of an art critic, a cutout guy on roller skates with a vacuum cleaner. And that is why I don’t want to be an art critic. Maybe I’m an art responder, and not a first responder, because I am not timely, but a far down the road responder. If I don’t have anything nice to say, I’m not saying it, and that’s just the way it is.
They have a whole floor devoted to Edward Hopper. I guess they could fill the whole museum with him. (Aside: the Whitney is moving, as all the museums in New York seem to be, and it’s awful, and I hate it, like I hate all change, but seriously, I initially hated their weird building, but now I find it cozy.) Hopper is about loneliness, and I am, much more than usual, alone. His people are creepy. In the basement, where I was hoping to get some food, a lady was giving a lecture about lighting. She was actually lighting a person sitting in a chair on a riser, using different colors, to match the lighting in various Hopper paintings. I could think of few things more boring, or tasks I would be less suited to. The color of light? Who can see that? The people sitting in rapt attention must have been lighting designers, all, and have about as much in common with them as I have with Russian runway models. A couple of people, including myself, sat in the back using that area to play with our electronic devices. The lady made a youngish woman with beet red hair look like a horrifyingly unnatural Hopper subject.
Hopper’s drawings were great, especially the ones of buildings. The best, though, was the empty yellow room. He didn’t make people look like corpses, or floating colored ghosts, he just showed what an empty room looks like, and what real light doesn’t look like, but how you sometimes feel it looks.