Thursday, August 27, 2009
Paris it's not.
This is the first time I've been on Broadway at Times Square since they closed it to traffic between 42nd and 46th or 47th - I forget. Well, they have replaced the lawn chairs with cute little tables and chairs but, ya know, it just doesn't look right. If this is supposed to be a charming spot for people to sit down with their Starbucks take-out coffees, it misses -- by a mile. Does this look charming to you? Where are the cafés? Where is the landscaping? Where are the flowers and trees that would make this look like an oasis? Looks more like a desert with traffic cones and a couple of half-hearted planters. I can imagine it would take some time to decide what they will do to enhance this space - but in the meantime, they might want to take inspiration from Bryant Park, which I walked through on my way to meet Leni Wiener at the Neue Galerie on 86th and 5th. It was threatening rain when I left home but the sun came out and the day was balmy and perfect for walking. I snapped a few photos en route. These made me smile. The Oskar Kokoschka exhibit at the Neue was a visual feast. He and the other German & Austrian expressionists between the wars produced some of the most powerful art of the last century, at least as far as I am concerned. The Neue has portraits by George Grosz, Max Beckmann, and the remarkable Otto Dix - among others. There is work by Gustav Klimt, including the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer that the Nazis had stolen and was finally returned to her family several years ago. Ronald Lauder purchased it for the Neue Galerie and the family later donated two retrieved sculptures so they could be reunited with the portrait. Unfortunately, IMO, this work has become almost a cliché from overexposure and Klimt painted some beautiful landscapes that you would never attribute to him because they are so different from this. Anyway, Leni and I had a lovely lunch and were able to chat and spend a lot of time together because after the museum, we walked down from 86th to 42nd St, where we parted ways: she to Grand Central for the train and I to the Port Authority to catch the bus. Since 20 city blocks in NY = a mile, we might have walked off a bite or two of the Viennese cake and coffee mit schlag. It was a wonderful day!