San Francisco MoMa

San Francisco MoMa’s collection is miniscule but housed in a great architectural space. It is really highway robbery to charge an $18 admission fee, unless you look at it as a donation to fine arts. The entire collection fits comfortably on one floor. The other 4 floors have random exhibits and auxiliary facilities. On the day I visited, the museum opened a photography exhibition featuring Henri Cartier-Bresson. I like looking at photos but, in my mind, they are not in the same category as other art forms, if you consider them art at all. That said, Cartier-Bresson’s work comes very close. He is remarkable at freezing life mid-sentence. His photographs are magnetic and draw you into his subjects’ lives. I was stunned at his intelligence in capturing the essence of various situations and human beings trapped within. Especially poignant for me were his photographs taken in Leningrad circa 1972. Gloomy Soviet apartment blocks that make US welfare housing look upscale, tired faces of women in drab clothes loaded with bags and trodding through muddy slush. How painfully precise and familiar! The photos were taken in black and white but, in reality, all shades of grey were exactly the colors of seemingly endless Soviet winters.

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