Wednesday, August 26, 2009

MoMA Dust-up

I went to MoMA the other day during their pre-opening hours. I love going at this time because most of the galleries are utterly deserted and there is something about being present with these great pictures and sculptures in this immense silence - the kind where all you hear is the air conditioning whistling through the vents - that is beautiful and calming.

I was on the fifth floor in the room where all those amazing Matisses are hanging - the Piano Lesson, an improvised version of the Dance, the Red Studio - when my looking was interrupted by a young woman walking swiftly through the gallery with a dusting brush in one hand and a bottle of cleanser in the other. She stopped periodically whenever she came to any flat surface where one of a number of Matisse's sculptures was sitting. She dusted each surface, while carefully avoiding the artwork itself. I watched her leave the Matisse room and walk just as deliberately into another, stopping only when encountering some kind of flat surface to free it of dust, always conscientiously keeping her duster from brushing up against the art objects themselves. I couldn't help being struck by the juxtaposition of what we consider to be great, transforming art with the simplest, most quotidian of tasks. Truth and beauty may be eternal, but, hey, dusting is important, too. And need I add that even in an art museum you can’t escape the fact that cleanliness is next to Godliness.

No comments:

Post a Comment