It’s impish of me to compare them, but I think what I’m really doing is comparing my behaviour, my state, in the both. At the queue-a-lot Art Institute of Chicago I’m all creeping, hushed and like I’m back in school. Nobody smiles back. In the Museum of Broadcast Communications (half the price and I spend twice as long), I’m the closest I’ll ever be to Huck Finn walking along the top of a fence. Deep as pockets; that’s me.
I pull up in awe before John Currin’s Stanford After Brunch (2000); at Alex Katz’s Vincent and Tony (1969); at Monet’s Morning Mists, Seine at Giverny (1897), because of how he lays a path for Rothko; and at Matisse’s Lemons on a Pewter Plate (1926), delighting in the gap he painted in, masterly at the edge, at the left hand side of the table top. And massive hoots, of course, at history’s campest teapot, by James Hadley, Royal Worcester (1882).
The following day my reception is a wall of heart-melting radios (1950s mainly, I reckon). From Chicago golden years 1955-76, local children’s heroes, Romberg Rabbit and Cuddly Dudley: I watch a clip of the latter in ad-libbed conversation with Ray Rayner, and it’s the very model of what kids’ TV shows still are today. And I spend a very great deal of time before the handwritten bit from a Seinfeld (1994, Season 6, Episode 9), loving, as I did the gap in the Matisse, how he (himself) has scribbled the order of the joke around: a killer phrase, for me, the moose thinking: ‘this goofball’.
I leave the second museum with a spring in my step. It was not better than the first. But probably I was. It’s fun to see things separately and remember them together.