The Museum of Modern Art is a favorite destination for both tourists and locals in New York City. The Museum of Modern Art, known as the MOMA, has an impressive collection of art, spanning from the late 1800s to the present day.
Many people assume that they won't like the MOMA, due to the fact that they don't like what they think of as "modern art," meaning pictures of blank canvases or other super-abstract items.
First of all, it's good to expand your horizons no matter what your artistic preferences are. Secondly, chances are, there's something at the MOMA that you will like. The collection includes impressionists like Monet, Van Gogh, and Seurat, cubists like Picasso, surrealists like Dali, abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollack, pop-artists like Andy Warhol and Piet Mondrian, and so many more. There are many paintings in the MOMA that are completely recognizable by anyone with even a passing knowledge of art.
If you're only going to be visiting the MOMA for a few hours, you should first find out what special exhibitions are being displayed. Sometimes the special exhibits are of fairly obscure artists that you may not be familiar with, but often, as was the case in late 2008, include household-name artists like Vincent Van Gogh.
If no special exhibits catch your fancy, you'll probably be happiest if you head to the fifth floor. This is where the earlier half of the collection of paintings is held. See Monets, Gauguins, Picassos, and Rousseaus here, many of which you'll recognize immediately.
Once you've had your fill of the impressionists and surrealists, take the escalator down to the fourth floor, and sneak a peek at the Pollacks and Warhols, and be sure to visit the Rothkos. Many people claim, before seeing them in real life, that "I could do that," especially regarding Pollack's work (which is essentially splatter-painting) and Rothko's work (which is very simple, often consisting of only one or two colors on an entire canvas). To see them in real life, though, is to discover that they are extraordinarily powerful, holding great mystique and intense feeling.
Famous Paintings Worth Seeing at the MOMA
Water Lilies, Claude Monet: This enormous triptych (three paintings, displayed as one) is one of many studies of water lilies that Monet painted at his home in Giverny, France. It is an exquisite example of Monet's ability to express the movement of light on water. Experience it by strolling in front of it, keeping your eyes fixed in one direction, and watch the water dance around the lilies.
The Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh: This painting is one of Van Gogh's most famous, and most beautiful. The way he captured the vibrant twinkling of the stars, scattering their light over the quiet town below, is simply stunning.
Broadway Boogie-Woogie, Piet Mondrian: A favorite for the "I coulda done it myself" crowd, this simple, geometric painting is surprisingly vivid and lifelike when viewed in real life. Watch the red, yellow, and blue squares dance around and envision an old-timey, jazz-era New York!
The Sleeping Gypsy, Henri Rousseau: An incredible expression of symbolism and sheer talent, this beautiful work from Rousseau is at the same time cartoonish and sophisticated. Is the lion going to eat the woman, or is he captivated by her grotesque beauty? What do you think?
Campbell's Soup Cans, Andy Warhol: A classic example of Pop Art, which begs the question, what is art, exactly? You don't have to love it, but if it challenges your idea of what art is, perhaps Warhol has fulfilled his mission! What do you think?