Sunday, October 28, 2007

My Sister

On one of her visits to New York, my sister--an art teacher--told me the story of Meret Oppenheim's Breakfast in Fur (1936, pictured). Liesl explained to me how it was a perfect example of surrealist art. I cannot retell it as she told it to me, but her description of Meret Oppenheim and that furry cup put a burr in my saddle and I just had to see the damn thing. This was when MOMA was relocated to Queens due to renovations, so it was quite a trek. I remember getting drenched in a rain storm and haggling with a young entrepreneur fresh from Russia over some awesome graphic tees that were just a little too pricey.

The Queens MOMA space was entirely too small. We saw that immediately. At first, we thought we had it wrong, maybe it was at another museum, but when we visited the gift shop, we saw a postcard that pictured that strange little cup. Then we saw the sign explaining that items were shifted regularly (due to that wee tiny space) and so, with great disappointment, we realized we would not see it that day.

Years later (2? 3?) Liesl was back, this time with my niece, Sage, in tow. They were planning on visiting all the hot spots, including the renovated MOMA. This time around, I would not be disappointed. When we finally came upon it, I was immediately struck by how small and ordinary it seemed. It was housed in glass among other surrealist items. It looked old.

Why do I love this piece? I realize now that it was my sister's telling of it that infused that cup with magic and heft. Once I understood this, I remembered other meandering visits to museums with Liesl. My sister's knowledge of art is one thing--it is the way that she talks about art and whatever piece is in front of you that somehow fills the world with history, wonder, and relevance.

The furry cup was just one instance. I could not tell you how many times Liesl has brought color and magic to a single piece of art--one moment nothing special, the next moment extraordinary and invaluable--but I do recall Rosa Bonheur's The Horse Fair, 1853–55. The white horse at the center is rearing her head, barely contained. My sister explained to me how a woman had painted it and the true meaning of that stubborn horse, pulling against the will of her male rider, as a symbol of women and their struggle in a man's world.

When I say it, well, there it is. But what a lucky person you are if you should ever have the occasion to take a stroll through the Met with my sister. She's an extraordinary person aside from this, but her ability to explain art is something to respect and behold.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the girls Sat night and we met Liesl for lunch with Nita yesterday. I went by the house after so I could meet the doggy. Zumi is very sweet and she likes me. A lot. Liesl definitely gets fired up when she talks about art. It's her passion and so much more rewarding than any guy has ever been. Love Ya!!!

9:33 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I love this so MUCH!!

8:18 PM  

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