I took Nathan, Megan and Rufina to the Museum of Modern Art. It was a bit like a school trip. We met at the Nahat and they were all oddly nervous. Maybe they’ve never been to a gallery before. They wittered about ‘modern’ art. They seemed especially nervous of ‘conceptual’ art. I can’t imagine what dark things they imagined. I tried to calm them down. He’s really defensive, said Nathan, like I wasn’t sitting there. I think psychologists call that projection. He continued, Anyway, it’s just for something to do. I could have killed him.
Maybe I was feeling protective more than defensive. I often go to galleries in London, and wherever else I travel to in the world. It is a mark against Tel Aviv that there aren’t more decent exhibitions here. My taste is quite broad; I love the fourth floor of the Pompidou Centre, the collection of twentieth century work. My secret ambition is to see every Vermeer in the world. There are only thirty-four and they’re quite widely spread; St Petersburg, Boston, and London. Holland has a few, too, of course. I’m about halfway through.
I love the new wing, it is very photogenic. I’ve gone there before just to enjoy the architecture. It is largely constructed from concrete and there isn’t a right angle in it. Of course, my friends were charmed by it. Entrance was free for new immigrants and we all qualified. At least, I thought, if they don’t like it they won’t feel they’ve wasted money.
The first room we saw featured something somewhere between art and fashion. A collection of buckles and buttons, presented beautifully, and much better than that description makes it sound. It was the opposite of scary and was a good way to start.
There was a brilliant show of African work downstairs that Rufina, especially, found a connection to. She stood in front of the things that intrigued her, taking it in, thinking about it. There was a beautiful film of a woman walking into a lake in late afternoon, Amazing Grace sung in Swahili played over it.
We moved into the main building, to the permanent collection. Here, there are rooms of minor work by major artists. Picasso and Degas, Van Gogh and Chagal. It has all, I guess, been donated. This suited Nathan better. He could recognise that this was ‘good’ art, and imagine it on the walls of his home. By the end he was excited by the thought of returning. Megan posted a picture of the gallery’s entrance on Instagram, with the caption, The Museum is a spectacular place. I’m not an art person, but I really enjoyed it. Oh, Megan, we’re all art people, if only we knew it. Rufina stayed quiet, thinking about what she’d seen. I was thrilled that all three of them found things to enjoy. My work has only just begun.
Today’s word: ohmanoot – art – אומנות