Honest Museum Audio Tour – The New Yorker
Here it is, the “Mona Lisa.” You woke up early for this. You waited in line for almost an hour. You’re now surrounded by seventy people, all trying to catch a glimpse of it. One of them just elbowed you while taking a photograph of it. It’s behind a lot of glass. It’s not very big. What I’m trying to say is: it’s O.K. to feel disappointed.
This powerful self-portrait is from Picasso’s Blue Period—so named because the paint he used was mostly blue. You spent eight dollars on this audio guide.
As the nineteenth century progressed, Impressionists such as Monet and Pissarro continued to divide public opinion—some people thought that the painters should be applying their paint to the canvas differently, while others maintained that the painters were doing the right thing with the paint.
Now we come to the antique-furniture room. Note this intricately carved chair, which was made in 1573. The first person to have sat in it is long dead. Now no one is allowed to sit in it.
As you gaze at this haunting Rodin sculpture, note the contrast between the figure’s blank stare and the tormented curl of his lips. Wait, don’t note that. Forget I said anything. Moving on.
This sculpture, you’ll notice, is a tube sticking out of an orange cardboard box. You’re wondering, Is there something I’m missing? No, there is not. This is a bad sculpture.
Look at this guy. Strolling through the museum without an audio guide—not even a map. Probably thinks he already knows everything. Well, his loss. Remember those neat tidbits about Gauguin’s personal life I told you in the last room? No way this guy knows them. Oh, God, now he’s stroking his chin and nodding thoughtfully at a Rembrandt. Christ. Let’s keep moving. We don’t need him.
This frenetic painting by Jackson Pollock is typical of his drip style, which features gestural splatters of paint across the canvas, and I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that this type of painting is easy, and that you could do it. It’s not, and you couldn’t.
Paul Cézanne completed this landscape in 1879, and you can touch it right now if you want to. Quick! No one’s looking.
This oil painting, like the eight preceding it, is of a table with fruit on it. There wasn’t a lot to paint back then.
Titled “The Persistence of Memory,” this 1931 Surrealist work, renowned for its iconic melting clocks, was painted, by Salvador Dali, in response to a worldwide shortage of dorm-room poster art.
By this point, you might have noticed that the history of Western painting went something like this: First, it didn’t matter whether the people looked realistic. Then it mattered. Then it stopped mattering again. This one is from 1910, when it was no longer mattering so much.
“The Starry Night,” Vincent van Gogh’s 1889 masterpiece, captures a small village beneath a luminous sky. But the painting’s enduring mystery lies in the dark, flame-shaped form in the left foreground. What was van Gogh attempting to convey with these elusive brushstrokes? What might this menacing presence in an otherwise tranquil landscape suggest? For years, there seemed to be no answer. Then we checked Wikipedia. It’s a cypress tree.
As you can see, this room is a bunch of rugs hanging on a wall, so we can skip it.
Your feet must be sore; you’ve been here for two hours. Your young child is screaming. Why did you think a six-year-old would enjoy an art museum? Did you really believe that you were doing him a favor by bringing him here? You’re actively ruining everyone else’s time. And then there’s your other kid, who is bored and resents your very existence. She didn’t even want to come on this vacation, you know. One day soon, she will declare that she hates you, and mean it. This painting is by Courbet.
The gift shop dates back to 1983, but it was made bigger in 1997.