Another visit to the Museum of Modern Art. It is part of, I guess, a culture complex; there is a theatre and opera house, I don’t know what else, set around a courtyard where concerts are held. From the main road it looks like a pink po-mo fortress. It says, Look at me, but I mostly want to look away. The entrance to the citadel isn’t as apparent as it should be.
I love the building of the new wing of the Museum, though, concrete and angular, like some sort of reptile Transformer. There are ramps and stairs, escalators and elevators. It is partly a museum of ways to get from one floor to another.
I approach the ticket office. Entrance is free for new immigrants, for two years after arriving. I ask if the new temporary exhibition has opened yet. These are often the highlights of the gallery. The woman tells me that it doesn’t start until September. I ask what it will be.
Louise Bourgeois, she says, almost neutrally, her eyes cast down.
Ah, I say, also nearly neutral.
I know, the woman mouths, meaningfully. She has stopped using sound.
There was a thing in the turbine hall of Tate Modern a few years ago… I say, enormous, black, metal spiders. Horrible.
Horrible, she agrees, just moving her lips, not making a sound, trembling slightly, looking at her keyboard.
So I wander around the permanent collection. It is mostly composed of lesser works by greater artists, some greater works by lesser artists. It is like Tel Aviv itself, maybe, in that there are pleasures to be found, you just have to find them. There’s an ultramarine Chagal of a bunch of flowers, swoonily beautiful. A striking Soutine bellboy, a room of cubists that I like a lot, some landscapes that take me to Europe.
This day there were more young children than usual. If you imagine that Israeli children are boisterous and noisy, you would still be understating. They take such loud, naughty pleasure from touching the cold, marble buttock of a small figure that you can’t help but enjoy it, too, even as the guards tetchily shoo them away. On the whole, I like that they feel at home in a gallery, around art. I think it’s a good thing.
Then, I’m expecting it, I found it the last time I was here. I’ve returned, partly, to see it again, it is the last picture in the hang, you turn a corner to find it. It is Frederike Maria Beer by Gustav Klimt and is a dream of colour and pattern. It is dazzling. It is the best painting here, by a mile, maybe in the country. It is worth coming to Israel to see.
Today’s word: teh-moo-nah – picture – תמונה
All these photos of the Tel Aviv Museum of Modern Art are by Simon Wilder