On the Beat: Geography of Modern Art
June 28th, 2013, 3:34 pm
In this weekly blog series, MAS Intern and Eugene Lang College student Michaela Weitzer reports back on her adventures on MAS tours. We hope you will also share your tour experiences with us on our Facebook page, Twitter. Popular tour guide Francis Morrone welcomes the group to his “Geography of Modern Art” tour with his enthusiastic and knowledgeable spirit as we stand huddled under the beautiful and iconic arch of Washington Square Park. Beginning the tour under the arch on the northern end of Washington Square Park perfectly highlights the theme of “changing New York”, according to Mr. Morrone. When the neighborhood Greenwich Village is mentioned most might picture the upscale neighborhood that stands now, but as stated in the tour, this area was built with a bohemian eye. We quickly learn of the world of poetry and art that Greenwich Village once housed. As our tour guide Francis Morrone admitted, he borrowed the title of this tour from Harold Rosenberg, an American writer and art critic. And as we stare at buildings that still stand from the year 1910, we learn of the low rent studios and young artists that once inhabited these hidden staples of the city. As the tour group moves across Washington Square North our attention is pointed towards buildings such as One 5th avenue. This building and others alike adequately demonstrate the unwanted changes that began in this area during the 1900’s. As we walk across Greene Street and stop between 8th Street and Waverly, we are immediately immersed into a world of art, learning about the lives of artists like Jackson Pollack and Philip Pavia. Francis stops in front of a Sovereign Bank on 8th Street; he describes in detail the legendary social club that once existed here. Prior to Philip Pavia developing this space into a social club with a lounge and kitchen, it was an abandoned studio where artists would gather to speak of philosophy and new ideas that intrigued them. This was the intellectual generation of artists and they were extremely exclusive for each one possessed their own key to this club bursting with new thoughts. Across the street from this historic lounge sits Jackson Pollack’s old apartment where he resided well before he was famous. The history carries on and the tour moves across 8th Street towards University Place as we pass the Knickerbocker Bar and Grill as well as the old Lafayette Hotel. Many of these places have now been turned into upscale apartment buildings. The tearing down of the Hotel Lafayette signifies the crucial turning point in the disintegration of bohemian Greenwich Village. Turning the corner, Francis explains that the CVS now stands was once the old Cedar Tavern where Jackson Pollack used to find himself in many brawls. Walking west on 8th Street the New York Studio School as well as the building where the old Whitney Museum used to stand are wonderful examples of culture and architecture still in their original form. While passing The New School on our way over to east 10th street, we are enlightened by the gathering of art and intellect that still stands. The group stands on 10th Street and 4th Avenue as the tour draws to a close. This is where all of the previous stops come together to create an incredible story of the artist movement that took place. Drawn into the old world of art studios, coffee shops, and construction, this historic block of 10th street gives us a sense of satisfaction. From Washington Square Park to East 10th street, the tour serves as a good reminder of the ever-evolving Greenwich Village as the world of modern art began to develop here. MAS tours are a unique way to explore New York City. View all upcoming tours here.