February 26, 2010  |  Design
From the Archives 02: A Brief Homage to Franklin Gothic

The MoMA Department of Graphic Design's metal set of Franklin Gothic

The Franklin Gothic typeface is the primary influence for nearly all MoMA materials; it’s the basis of our logo (see the top of your screen) and our official font “MoMA Gothic,” which were both created by Matthew Carter. We were happy to see that MoMA used a version of Franklin Gothic as long ago as the 1930s. We found these printed materials in our archives while doing some research on our current identity.

We understand not all people are totally crazy typographic aficionados like us, but more often these days, casual observers are able to recognize subtle differences in typefaces that were once thought to be the domain of only the obsessed. Can you spot Franklin Gothic on the walls of MoMA, in our subway advertisements, or anywhere else? Look for the “two story” lowercase “g” with a unique “ear” to be certain! Read more

February 25, 2010  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions, Design
Signs of Life: The Life of the Exit Man

Freddie Yauner. Signs of Life. 2007-09. © Freddie Yauner

Signs of Life, the animated pictographic exit sign by British designer Freddie Yauner, takes the most banal everyday object—something that we see daily but rarely notice—and brings it to life. Read more

February 24, 2010  |  Collection & Exhibitions
9 Screens: As Long as It Lasts

When MoMA Associate Director Kathy Halbreich invited me to observe the inner workings of the Museum and share my observations and critiques with both curators and administrators, I thought it was very important for MoMA to take a look at its interchange with artists—how the Museum is perceived by artists, and also its function and role within the artistic community. After several months of discussion with curatorial and administrative staff, I articulated some ideas for how MoMA might become a more nimble institution, one less constrained by the canonical history it had contributed to shaping. For example, I thought that the Museum needed to expand its entry point for young, local artists. I also suggested showing art in some of the building’s interstitial spaces—this would allow for extra display space, I thought, and also help MoMA to compress the long lead time required by large institutions to realize an exhibition. Read more

February 23, 2010  |  Design, Rising Currents
Rising Currents: The Hudson

Hudson River, 2006. Courtesy Architecture Research Office

As we get ready to begin the installation of the MoMA exhibition next week, I wanted to take a step back and offer a visual reflection on a central figure in this exhibition. Our thanks to Architecture Research Office for poetically capturing the essence of Rising Currents. Click on the image to view the video clip. Read more

February 23, 2010  |  An Auteurist History of Film
King Vidor’s The Big Parade

The Big Parade. 1925. USA. Directed by King Vidor

The Big Parade. 1925. USA. Directed by King Vidor

These notes accompany King Vidor’sThe Big Parade, which screens on February 24, 25, and 26 in Theater 3.

In his autobiography A Tree Is a Tree, King Vidor recounts the origins of The Big Parade. Having made some good but ephemeral films for the fledgling M-G-M, Vidor told Irving Thalberg, “If I were to work on something that…had a chance at long runs…, I would put much more effort, and love, into its creation.”

If there is anything wrong with The Big Parade, it is that Vidor put too much into it. The film is at once a grand epic, an intimate romance, a comedy of camaraderie, and a savage polemic. Somehow, Vidor managed to hold all this together, and seemingly overnight became the leading “serious” director in America, assuming at age thirty-one the mantle which had fallen from D. W. Griffith’s shoulders when the Master was forced to sign a contract with Paramount earlier in 1925. Eighty-five years later, The Big Parade still dwarfs virtually every film made about World War I, and it is arguably Vidor’s finest achievement. Read more

February 22, 2010  |  Film
Documentary Fortnight: MoMA’s International Festival of Nonfiction Film, Week 2

Sleep Furiously. 2008. Great Britain. Directed by Gideon Koppel

The second week of Documentary Fortnight begins this Wednesday, February 24, and runs through March 3. The selections now turn to look at communities around the world, including a special thematic focus on Iran and Afghanistan. First up is Gideon Koppel’s Sleep Furiously. The film depicts Treufurig, a hill farming community in Wales where, many years ago, Koppel’s parents found a home as refugees. The daily life, landscape, and mannerisms of the people and place are captured with attention to small details such as conversational patter, eccentric hobbies, and music by Aphex Twin. Read more

February 19, 2010  |  Design, Tech
A Few Words with Legendary Web Designer Yugo Nakamura

The Design and the Elastic Mind website

We initially suggested five design firms as candidates to design and build the Design and the Elastic Mind website. Paola Antonelli, the exhibition curator, had gone through around twenty links from three firms when we showed her Yugo Nakamura’s personal site, The simple white page that greeted us was immediately invaded by dark, two-dimensional cascading balls. We watched for a few minutes, mesmerized by the simple physics of bouncing. Paola decided to go with Yugo’s firm, tha ltd., on the spot.

Yugo’s work has been inspirational to me since 1998, when I first came across MONO*crafts 2.0 (more on that below). In fact, I can honestly say that seeing that website was one of the reasons I decided to transition from print to web design. His site was among the first to effectively and convincingly instill “life”—flexibility, mutability, playfulness, depth, speed—into what was then a very static experience.

So it was quite an honor for me to ask him a few questions about his experience working on the Design and the Elastic Mind website, and about Web design in general. Read more

February 17, 2010  |  Film
Documentary Fortnight: MoMA’s International Festival of Nonfiction Film

Appalshop's Appalachian Media Institute youth intern

Starting tonight and running through March 3, this year’s Documentary Fortnight continues in its mission to reveal a wide range of approaches in nonfiction filmmaking while highlighting the art of documentary storytelling. The series reflects on the creative act of documentary filmmaking and celebrates the ingenuity, dedication, and persistence of documentary filmmakers. It is our hope that you can attend any one or more of the screenings and come away entertained, enlightened, and enthralled with the new directions in nonfiction film. Most of the documentaries are U.S. or New York premieres and are presented by the directors and/or participants, offering filmgoers an intimate look at the risks filmmakers take in getting these stories told. Perhaps you’ll even be inspired to make your own documentary film!

To help you make your choices, this year’s Documentary Fortnight festival includes several thematic programs as well as an international selection of films. Read more

February 17, 2010  |  Behind the Scenes
MoMA Offsite: The Tricks of Today are the Truths of Tomorrow

From left: Man Ray. Gift. c. 1958 (replica of 1921 original). Painted flatiron with row of thirteen tacks, heads glued to bottom. The Museum of Modern Art. James Thrall Soby Fund. Man Ray. Untitled. 1908. Ink and pencil on paper. The Museum of Modern Art. Gift of Silvia Pizitz. Both works © 2010 Man Ray Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ ADAGP, Paris

In my last MoMA Offsite (which, as it happens, was also the first-ever MoMA Offsite), I set the agenda for this column, which is to reveal and discuss MoMA collection works on loan to other institutions. I chose to explore both works that are infrequently on view here at Fifty-third Street as well as those that are regular residents in our galleries, assuming that each entry would take me to different artists from different time periods, featured in different shows in different parts of the world. But in the infancy of this mission I am already going to break the pattern by speaking exclusively this week about one artist and one show, just up the road: Alias Man Ray: The Art of Reinvention, on view at The Jewish Museum through March 14. Read more

February 17, 2010  |  Rising Currents
Rising Currents: Optimistic Innovation

Climate change and sea-level projections developed by the New York City Panel on Climate Change

The Rising Currents exhibition and studio work at P.S.1 demonstrated the challenges that New York City faces from climate change, as well as the opportunities we have to rethink how we interact with the built and natural environment. 

New York City already faces real and significant climate risks. We currently experience hot, humid summers and severe weather events, including heat waves, torrential downpours, snow and ice storms, and nor’easters. These weather events affect every New Yorker. As our climate changes, increasing our resilience to these events will become even more necessary. Read more