Guess what? I’m starting to open my e-mail again! (Or at least I was.) Here’s one I want to share, from a reader who went to see Turner: The Late Seascapes at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass., which is a little bit too far off the beaten path for most New York art lovers:
I did do the crazy, quixotic thing Labor Day weekend–went up to W’mstown and back in a single day (Bonanza Bus Co. makes Greyhound look like Concorde, except that they do take a very scenic route through the Berkshires). The Turner show was really marvelous (why is it a truism of art shows that the work you most want on a postcard isn’t available? there were two astonishing watercolors, one of which made me feel distinctly larcenous) and the Clark’s own collection is surprisingly world class…
Aside from the good report on the show, I was struck by my correspondent’s observation about museum postcards, which tallies precisely with my near-universal experience. It isn’t true of permanent collections–I’ve had pretty good luck there–but whenever I go to a touring show, the museum shop never has a postcard of the painting I like best (unless the show is small enough to stack the odds in my favor). The only exception that comes immediately to mind was MoMA’s Jackson Pollock retrospective. I was knocked out by an uncharacteristically small 1946 painting (19 by 14 inches) called “Free Form,” and sure enough, there was a postcard waiting for me in the gift shop–but the painting belonged to MoMA, so it didn’t quite count. (Nor is a link to this lovely painting to be found anywhere on the Web, at least as far as I can see, arrgh.)
Perhaps even more irritating, though, is when you spend an hour or two trolling the permanent collection, retire to the museum shop, and find a half-dozen postcards of the paintings you’d really like to have seen…none of which is currently on display.
Did I say arrgh?