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Children art effortlessly by Misha Lyuve

Aug 1, 2015

A “chill” out trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on a hot August day

Clarity, confusion + Magritte by Misha Lyuve

Oct 26, 2013

Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist.” – René Magritte

Clairvoyance by Magritte

"Clairvoyance" by Magritte

“I want to be confused,” says no one. Instead we adamantly strive for clarity. We thirst for it in communication with our bosses, customers and spouses. We long for it looking for the direction in our lives and prioritizing our goals and aspirations. We rely on it to solve business problems and figure out the shortest most efficient paths to meet business goals. We want it all – transparent, unpacked, devoid of ambiguity or confusion – and we want it now.

Confusion, however, is an ambiguous phenomenon. One one hand, it is the state we prefer to avoid all together. We relate to it as to a flu and try to suppress its symptoms – uncertainty, disorientation and contradiction. On the other hand, it is confusion that generates new ideas, fertilizes creativity and fosters innovation. In fact, the path to clarity lies through confusion. And it is precisely the balance between clarity and confusion that is missing in our lives.

But given that we live in clarity obsessed society, let me share of a secret safe place to indulge in confusion – ART. Specifically I recently visited René Magritte’s exhibition “Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Magritte’s talent is in his ability to interrupt the expected clarity of mundane. When you look at his art, don’t worry about liking or disliking it, because it’s not the point. Instead allow yourself be puzzled, confused, stimulated. There is a mystery of our existence that can be found there; it cannot be trivialized or broken down to clarity.

"Attempting the Impossible" by Magritte

"Attempting the Impossible" by Magritte

"The Eternally Obvious" by Magritte

"The Eternally Obvious" by Magritte

The Artist is indeed Present by Misha Lyuve

Jul 15, 2012


“I test the limits of myself in order to transform myself, but I also take the energy from the audience and transform it. A powerful performance will transform everyone in the room” – Marina Abramovic 

Marina Abramovic is a performance artist that in over 40 years of her career ruthlessly pushed boundaries of physical and mental limitations in her work such that during her performances she was cut, burnt and even almost died once. Just to give you an idea, in one of her performances she prepared 72 objects (e.g. scissors, a gun, a rose, a feather, a scalpel) for audience to use in whichever way they wished while she stayed still for 6 hours (Rhythm 0). And if you were following the past few of my posts, coincidentally, Marina played out her own funeral in a play Life and Death of Marina Abramovic.

The Matthew Akers’ documentary “The Artist is Present”, that recently came out, is about Marina’s life and work. It is named after Marina’s 2010 project at MoMA. 3-month, 736-hour performance involved people sitting with Marina in publicly displayed one-on-one sessions in silence. This eye-gazing exercise overwhelmed participants with emotions, made them cry (this is a fascinating set of pictures from her performance “Marina Abramovic Made Me Cry”), created several-block long lines and drew about 700K visitors to MOMA, like no other exhibition.

I can only imagine the depth of being with Marina one-on-one, but even through watching her in the movie, I was left with an experience that I know this person very intimately. This drawing openness of Marina is no coincidence – I think it is attributed to her working-out her emotional knots and exploring so much of her inner self through her art.

Marina says that unlike theater, in performance “knife is real, the blood is real, and the emotions are real”. There is no place to hide and she made it very clear in all her work. “The Artist is Present” was just the next stepping stone in how much she could push herself to open.

I am much fascinated by the boundaries of consciousness and our physicality and I make my small steps in exploring my inner self. But I am way too terrified of pain and judgments of others to take it to Marina’s scale. I am grateful that someone is showing the way.

In case it didn’t come across – I highly recommend watching “The Artist is Present.”

Art, Honey and Explorations by Misha Lyuve

Jan 8, 2012

All the journeys have a secret destination of which the traveler is unaware -Martin Buber

Photo by Rosemarie Padovano, 2006. From Salve series

One of the artist’s jobs could be seen as to push the understanding of reality through exploration.

I was inspired by a project titled Honey by Rosemarie Padovano, a New York artist, as an example of that. At the same time I would like to use it as a challenge for you, my reader: you are an artist of your life and the depth of your exploration is creating your masterpiece. In Rosemarie’s life, the boundary of the exploration can be described by the following question she asked herself: “Why can’t I just come up with an idea for a @#$*ing painting instead?”

Celebrating the spirit of giving and human intimacy, Rosemarie developed a ritual of feet washing in honey.

She first introduced it by asking her dad to wash her mom’s feet for a photographic series titled Salve – among other intentions, to apply the healing qualities of honey to the varicose veins her mom developed after giving birth to four children and celebrate the work of a mother with a product of a tireless work of a bee.

Photo by Muhammad Sorwar, 2011, Socates Sculpture Park, Queens, NY

Later Rosemarie herself performed the ritual in public spaces to expand her own understanding of intimacy and reciprocity, by providing service with nothing received in return but the experience. In her words: “To perform such an act with a stranger becomes an exercise in the awkwardness, struggle, necessity and pleasure inherent in human connection. The viscous materiality of the honey is a metaphor for the interdependence of bees on one another, and ultimately how we all remain in a fragile balance of reliance and community in order to sustain.”

The sticky quality of honey makes it a great candidate to be able to “catch” intimacy, an elusive concept that cannot be understood through dictionary definitions or others people’s experiences; especially applied to feet, one of our more “private” body parts.

Thank you, Rosemarie Padovano, for getting your hands sticky with honey, for touching feet of strangers, for taking risks and not producing another painting.

The question begs – what are you planning to explore this year? What boundaries are you ready to push open?

As for having your feet washed in honey – it’s nothing like you could ever imagine – I tried it firstfoot.

Video by Dr. Mikhail Tis, 2011. Artist's studio, Brooklyn NY

Rosemarie Padovano is a Brooklyn-based sculptor, photographer, video and performance artist. Her work explores human connection through ritual, desire, loss and displacement. She received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, her BFA from Parsons School of Design, and has attended residencies through the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Select exhibitions in New York City include; Marvelli Gallery, Ramis Barquet Gallery, Exit Art, and Location One. On February 10, 2012, Padovano will present “Honey,” a performance in which the public’s feet are washed in honey, cleaned with soap and water, and then towel dried at Fort Point Art Community Inc., in Boston MA. Visit for further details:

Nakedness: Lucian Freud @ Metropolitan Museum of Art by Misha Lyuve

Oct 8, 2011

If you want to hang out in a room full of naked people, the Lucian Freud’s exhibition at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is a very special opportunity to do that (it runs through December 31, 2011). In fact, I suggest that this time around you skip Roman sculptures and Asian decorative art as well as other rooms in the Modern Art section – go straight to Kimmelman gallery and allow yourself to fully immerse into the rich world of Freud’s paintings.     

Lucian Freud's Exhibition @ Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Lucian Freud's Exhibition @ Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

We live in the world where body image is a cause of emotional distress and psychological disorder, and an image of a body as a symbol of sex has become the strongest marketing weapon. The concern for how we look is now on a critical path of our pursuit of happiness. It is engraved into youngsters with clearly defined standards of pretty and ugly, acceptable and not. It has a flavor of despair, shame and guilt.     

And all that is a great reason to come and visit with Lucian Freud – he will challenge your points of view and have you questioning. What bodies do you consider beautiful? What do you think about your own body? Does nudity have to be sexual? Is it shameful? His paintings will confront stereotypes that have been passed on to you and the ones you developed throughout your life. What do you find repulsive? What are your thoughts when you see a body of an old person? What are your judgments of fat bodies?     

There is a good chance that after seeing this exhibition you will come out a better person.     

Naked Man Back View, by Lucian Freud at Met Museum, New York

Image credits: Lucian Freud (British, 1922-2011). Naked Man, Back View, 1991-92. Oil on canvas 72-1/4 x 54-1/8 inches (183.5 x 137.5 cm.) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1993 (1993.71) © The Estate of Lucian Freud

Also read:
- Two Deaths in London
- Aging Fools

The Man Behind Rubin Museum of Art by Misha Lyuve

Oct 4, 2011

Dedicated to the 7th birthday of Rubin Museum of Art    

Rubin Museum of Art, New York

Rubin Museum of Art, New York


This story is about a man who took Barney’s NY, a swanky department store in central Manhattan (on W17th st and 7th Ave), and converted it into an art sanctuary, the Rubin Museum.
Donald Rubin was no lover of art and no rich man when he and his wife Shelley saw a painting of White Tara (female Buddha) in an art gallery on Madison Avenue. In fact, at that time Donald could hardly point to Himalayas on a map and knew almost nothing about Buddhism. But as I learned in my interview with Donald, in order to appreciate art, the less you know the better – as it is not a function of intellect, but of heart, like falling in love. That first purchase became the beginning of a life-long love affair and a very passionate one, I would say.       

White Tara

White Tara, Donald and Shelley Rubin, private collection


Three decades later, now a successful entrepreneur, Donald and his wife Shelley accumulated a substantial collection of Himalayan art. Probably most of us can somehow relate to the idea of starting a business – but a museum? In Donald’s words, it’s no different: it requires the same vision, taking a chance, confidence, money and – I would add – a burning desire to share, in other words, generosity. After all not many buildings got as lucky as the old Barney’s store; most of them followed a predictable fate of being converted to condominiums.       

As I was sitting in front of Donald, I saw a gentle humble storyteller. And as we discussed his endeavors – whether it is his passion for Cuban art or sponsoring  the creation of a guide on how to build an earthquake resistant house or his effort on improving the living conditions of Indian road-builders in Bhutan – I was moved and grateful that people like this exist.       

Two things I learned from Donald Rubin:       

About art: Art is the soul of mankind. A soul doesn’t require a resume. There is nothing to know about art, but only to feel and experience it.       

About life: Don’t be afraid of falling. Fell down? – wash your hands and feet, punch your cheeks and keep going.      

Donald and Shelley Rubin in Tibet, 2002

Donald and Shelley Rubin in Tibet, 2002

MOMA’s scultpure garden by Misha Lyuve

Jul 20, 2011

MOMA Garden: Group of figures by Katharina Fritsch

MOMA Garden: Group of figures by Katharina Fritsch

Alexander McQueen: savage and beauty by Misha Lyuve

Jun 2, 2011
My Alexander McQueen suit took me on a journey (see When art gets personal)


Alexander McQueen

“There is no way back now. I am going to take you on journeys you’ve never dreamed before possible” -Alexander McQueen

Fashion had resonated to me more with commercialism, vanity and superficiality than with art – till I saw Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beuaty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gallerly? Theater? Catwalk? — all of it and none. Music, lighting, set up of the rooms, McQueen’s quoatations created an intense medium to experience his creativity, passion, drama, angels and demons, and allowed to immerse into his intensity. Faceless static manequens were such better carriers of art than flickering models; they gave time to experience, to process, to feel.

So here is McQueen: a son of a cab driver, described by othersbeer gut, shaved head, bad teeth and thick glottal cockney accent“, “foul-mouthed“, “hooligan“, “shy“; described by himself “I just want to be a wallflower. Nondescript. Just not anything. I don’t want to see me.” And that person created all this???

And suddenly I felt that maybe I am just getting a glimpse of how it was to be this man; when there is so much vision inside and such a huge gap with the outside — how intense that might feel? And the two ways out — death and madness — become reasonable and tangible. 

I want to be the purveyor of a certain silhouette or a way of cutting, so that when I’m dead and gone, people will know that the twenty-first century was started by Alexander McQueen.“ 

I want to be the purveyor of a certain silhouette or a way of cutting, so that when I’m dead and gone, people will know that the twenty-first century was started by Alexander McQueen.“ 

It is important to look at death because it is a part of life. It is a sad thing, melancholy but romantic at the same time.”

“It is the end of a cycle — everything has to end. The cycle of life is positive because it gives room for new things.”

Japan – from art to life – precision and intentionality by Misha Lyuve

Mar 20, 2011
I strongly feel that one of the ways of holding Japan’s spirit in these tough days is to continue exploring its culture.

The Japanese Art Dealers Association exhibition, small and intimate, allowed me to emmerse into the spirit and culture of Japan. Especially I got fascinated by the two works of Katsushika Hokusai, an 18-19 century painter who was one of the first to become famous and influential in the West. 

Hokusai was completely obsessed with the mount Fuji and created a well-known cycle of thirty-six views of it.  He also  changed his name 30 times during his life: the transformation of style and production of his work was very much tied to transformation of his persona and a name change. 

Fuji in clear weather

Sekiya village by the Sumida River

As I was absorbing his work and other art pieces, I couldn’t help but notice the precision and intentionality that were expressed in the details of clouds, trees, patterns of people’s clothes, grass and texture. Isn’t that what Japanese are known for in the modern life? — electronics, robotics, car-making, medical devices – all require a mastery of intentionality and precision. In fact, experts agree that not many places in the world would take magnitude 9.0 earthquake with as much grace as Japan (read about Japan’s  building code and see the video below), even given many thing that went unexpected.  


One thing that I am confident about is that the Japanese will restore their country. But for now, if you would like to double your donations, here are some easy ways to do it.

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