Because when all of your connecting flights go through Newark, it would be rude not to stop by New York. 🗽

Our flight was relatively uneventful, minus United Airlines’ claim that there was no vegetarian option available despite my having expressly stated it when booking the flights two months earlier. Let me tell you that nothing makes those 8 hours fly by like vacuum-packed cheese and crackers for every meal. On arrival in New York, we headed to the Pod 39 hotel where we’d stayed on our last visit – partially because we’d had a great experience with them last time, but primarily because they were within walking distance of Penelope: the only eatery for which we’d previously broken our rule of never revisiting the same restaurant (twice at the time, four at present).

Given the (literal) blizzard howling outside, we decided an indoor activity might be best, and headed to the Museum of Modern Art – one of the few major museums we didn’t make it to on our last trip.

Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ (1889) – which would have left me fairly awestruck were it not for the fact that I’d run into another Dutch export just five minutes earlier whose presence I was slightly more excited about…

OH HELLO, FAMKE JANSSEN, FANCY SEEING YOU HERE. The casualness with which John pointed her out to me was inversely proportionate to my reaction on seeing her; being one of the few celebrity sightings who would actually leave me starstruck. (I’ve seen more or less everything she’s been in since I first caught her in GoldenEye in 1995, and I’ve wanted to be Jean Grey for approximately 16 years now). I spoke to her very briefly (she was perfectly lovely), but stopped short of asking her for a photo – a decision I was later grateful for on learning that she actively hates selfies. Thankfully Famke had walked through the background of a video I was taking earlier so I had some evidence to prove to myself that it wasn’t all a beautiful hallucination.

‘Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II’ (1912) by Gustav Klimt. The only model to be painted twice by Klimt, this is the partner piece to the first (more famous) portrait which was the subject of last year’s Woman in Gold. The film tells the story of the late Maria Altmann; an elderly Jewish refugee living in Cheviot Hills, Los Angeles, who, together with her young lawyer, Randy Schoenberg, fought the government of Austria for almost a decade to reclaim Klimt’s iconic ‘Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I’; a painting of her aunt which was stolen from her relatives by the Nazis in Vienna just prior to World War II. Altmann took her legal battle all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled on the case Republic of Austria v. Altmann in 2004.

(Spoiler alert: she won.)

Another Klimt (‘The Park’) on display behind John there.

Picasso’s ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ (1907) – which I’d never pictured as being quite so large.

Mondrian: who, fun fact, hated nature, and the colours green and brown. Looking out of a friend’s apartment in New York once, he noticed trees planted in the middle of the street at intervals of two or three hundred yards and commented disapprovingly, “I didn’t know you lived in a rural district.”

Henri Matisse, ‘The Swimming Pool’. One morning in the summer of 1952, Matisse told his studio assistant and secretary Lydia Delectorskaya that “he wanted to see divers,” so they set out to a favourite pool in Cannes. Suffering under the blazing sun, they returned home, where Matisse declared, “I will make myself my own pool.” He asked Delectorskaya to ring the walls of his dining room at the Hôtel Régina in Nice with a band of white paper, positioned just above the level of his head, breaking only at the windows and door at opposite ends of the room. Matisse then cut his own divers, swimmers, and sea creatures out of paper painted in an ultramarine blue. The blue forms were pinned on the white paper, which helped define the aquatic ballet of bodies, splashing water, and light.

Andy Warhol, ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans’ (1962) – each a different flavour.

Roy Lichtenstein, ‘Drowning Girl’ (1963) – originally taken from DC Comics’ ‘Run for Love’.

One of the (increasingly bizarre) works in the Marcel Broodthaers retrospective.

Someone else I hadn’t expected to see at the MoMA? Conchita Wurst! Part of the ‘Ocean of Images: New Photography’ exhibition.

This looks like it jumped right out of a game I played a few years back called Machinarium.

“Your ship is filthy.”
“She has no idea. If I had a black light, the place would look like a Jackson Pollock painting.”

Hello, my baby, hello, my honey, hello, my ragtime gal.

The 36-foot-tall ‘Rose II’ (2007), by Isa Genzken.

That evening: dinner at da Tommy Osteria, where I had the Risotto con Zucca & Amaretti (because apparently I can’t resist ordering every dish I ever encounter that includes pumpkin).

With special guest star, Stephanie who is the best kind of friend: the kind who lets you send underwear to their address to escape exorbitant international shipping charges.

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