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My second trip to the MoMa was interesting, not only because of the paintings I saw, but also the people I encountered. The person that led the gallery talk was Midori Yoshimoto, whose English was a task to listen to, but she was of course knowledgeable on the subject. I didn’t find much of a connection with the first few paintings we saw but hearing about them shed a new light on the work. I most enjoyed listening about a painting by Rothko entitled At the Edge of the Sea, which can be categorized as both abstraction and figuration. The painting is not as abstract in content as some of Pollack’s work since there are clear figures, but the composition is possibly more abstract in meaning. What I first took to be two vases is actually meant to be the painter and his wife. We were told that this piece had special meaning to the painter since it hung in his living room until his death. After seeing this painting I realized it was time to open myself to the max to fully take in the pieces in this gallery.

The next piece that caught my eye was Abraham by Newman, painted in 1949. At first, I though this was one of those ridiculous paintings that asks us to go to extremes to connect with it. Ms. Yoshimoto explained that the inspiration behind this painting was biblical, hence the title Abraham. There is clear geometry in this painting, a black, thick streak divides the canvas. The prevalent color is black, displayed in different shades. Ms. Yoshimoto showed us that among all the black, there is a hint of light yellow which creates a halo along the black streak. The simplicity of this subtle addition of light created a supernatural feeling to the painting and made it appropriate for the biblical intention.

The next Newman painting did not appeal to me in the same manner. This one was mostly red, with a four streaks of yellow and white. Ms. Yoshimoto mentioned that Newman created this painting to be appreciated from up close and so we were advised to stand inches from the painting to fully appreciate it. To me, the painting had little emotional significance but if I had to choose to admire it I would do so from a distance, so as to take in the entire piece. Others around me began to comment on the painting. Their comments seemed silly and almost forced. One woman began to comment on the slight break in one of the streaks. Another said “it’s so simple, but it just speaks to me.” I wonder what she heard it say.

The next stop was a painting by Jackson Pollack’s wife, Lee Krasner. Through an opening to the next room we were able to see and compare one of Pollock’s pieces. Her work was much more controlled and organized. Pollock’s work was also much more vast in size. The next room was completely dedicated to Pollock. After the tour I spent some time on my own in this room. The painting entitled One, done on Novermber 31 of 1950, resembled the painting done on November 14, 1948, but the emotions I took away from each one varied. They had a similar color scheme but One seemed more joyful to me. There is a greater amount of white at the center and the lines seem to stretch as if in an effort to release energy. All the lines have their own pattern, their own significance, and I find it interesting that when you attempt to follow one you just get lost in another.┬áThe painting done on November 14th seems more angry. The same colors are generally used but some new, unique ones are also added. There is more open space but also more darker lines. On the sides there are very thick brush strokes that aren’t even splatters anymore. The one question that most interests me about such works is when did he know when to stop the splattering; when was the painting truly complete?

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