Sunday, September 04, 2011
I Have a Little List
The Morgan Museum & Library has a fascinating exhibition about Lists.
Yesterday, I got to spend a wonderful afternoon at the Morgan with friend Barbara from Atlanta, finally getting to drink in the newly-renovated opulence of J.P. Morgan's library, books, works of art, which were all off limits the last time I was there. Another exhibition explored medieval dress and fashion. (Did you know the two "horns" medieval women piled their hair into and draped with scarves were call "temples"? Me, neither.)
"The exhibition celebrates this most common form of documentation by presenting an array of lists made by a broad range of artists, from Pablo Picasso and Alexander Calder to H. L. Mencken, Eero Saarinen, Elaine de Kooning, and Lee Krasner. With examples such as Picasso's picks for the great artists of his age (Gris, Léger, etc.), H. L. Mencken's autobiographical facts ("I never have a head-ache from drink"), and Robert Smithson's collection of quotations about spirals, the items on view are intriguing, revealing, humorous, and poignant."
OK, so you can see where even the shopping list of a famous person might be interesting, but looking deeper, these lists really reveal a lot about the list-maker. Lists tell us about priorities. Priorities of time, money, attention, passion. Some of the lists are official - a list of teapots (in the form of drawings) for an art exhibition or an accounting of a sales receipt. Some are ordinary and personal - likes, dislikes, things to do today, things to buy at the grocery or hardware store. But all the lists boil down to priorities. What's important. What comes first. What must be done.
Are you a list-maker? I am. And even in this age of making lists and taking notes electronically on a smartphone, I still find a hand-written list the most efficient and easiest to access.
So, what do your "priorities" say about you? Mine obviously say I really need mayonnaise and milk. Priorities, dear. Priorities. Thank goodness, I have a little list.