March 31, 2010  |  Artists, Behind the Scenes
MoMA Offsite: From Matisse to Matisse

Henri Matisse. Dance (I). 1909. Oil on canvas, 8' 6 1/2" x 12' 9 1/2" (259.7 x 390.1 cm). Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller in honor of Alfred H. Barr, Jr. The Museum of Modern Art, New York

I distinctly remember my first visit to the new MoMA building. I was nineteen and had just celebrated my first New York City anniversary (so I am of the generation that cannot clearly recall MoMA in its pre-2004 guise). Of the many snapshots in my mind from that day, none is as vivid as the vision of Henri Matisse’s 1909 painting Dance (I). As some may remember, it was hanging in an interior stairwell that joined the fourth- and fifth-floor galleries. In addition to being viewable from those stairs, it could also be glimpsed through a window that opened up to the Marron Atrium below, and that is how I first saw it. As I rounded a corner and entered the space, cosmic in size, I raised my head and the familiar piece of history slowly unfurled above me, and I let a smile unfurl with it. Read more

Finding Burton

Tim Burton. Untitled (The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories). 1998. Pen and ink and watercolor on paper, overall: 11 x 14" (27.9 x 35.6 cm). Private collection. © 2009 Tim Burton

We found Tim Burton in London. Just as was the case with the Museum’s Pixar exhibition in 2005, we discovered that he, too, held a body of work that had never before been seen by the public. In Tim’s case, there was childhood ephemera, high school papers, cartoons, early 8mm and 16mm amateur films, sketchbooks, drawings, verse, art for a number of unrealized film and book projects, work related to well-known feature films, and material cut from his 1997 book The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy. Keeping things new and fresh would not be a major concern, and we recognized that we would be relying less on studio archives than we had originally expected. The obvious issues were what to select from a personal archive that contained close to 10,000 elements, and how to make sense of it all. Read more

March 30, 2010  |  An Auteurist History of Film
Frank Borzage’s Street Angel

Street Angel. 1928. USA. Directed by Frank Borzage

Street Angel. 1928. USA. Directed by Frank Borzage. Gift of Twentieth Century-Fox. Preserved with funding from the Louis B. Mayer Foundation

These notes accompany the screening of Street Angel, March 31 and April 1 and 2 in Theater 3.

From the opening shot of Street Angel (1928), it is evident that Frank Borzage (1893–1962) had been enraptured by watching F. W. Murnau shoot Sunrise the preceding year at the Fox studio. Through atmospheric light and shadow, the camera prowls around elaborate Neapolitan sets in long, complicated takes. Borzage had won the first Oscar for best director for Seventh Heaven in 1927, but he evidently realized that Murnau and his team had brought something new to Hollywood, and his career over the next thirty years never cast off Murnau’s spell. Read more

Visitor Viewpoint: Marina Abramović

Installation view of Marina Abramović’s performance The Artist Is Present at The Museum of Modern Art, 2010. Photo by Scott Rudd. For her longest solo piece to date, Abramović sits in silence at a table in the Museum’s Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium during public hours, passively inviting visitors to take the seat across from her for as long as they choose within the timeframe of the Museum’s hours of operation. Although she will not respond, participation by Museum visitors completes the piece and allows them to have a personal experience with the artist and the artwork. © 2010 Marina Abramović. Courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

We asked a number of visitors to Marina Abramović’s performance retrospective, The Artist Is Present, to share their impressions with us. Visitor participation is central to this exhibition—Abramović’s own performance for the show asks visitors to come sit with her and essentially become a part of the performance piece, while the “reperformances” in the sixth-floor galleries turn viewers into spectators and confront them in a way art objects never could. We wanted to hear from visitors about their experiences with these works. Read more

Different Strokes: Custom Alphabets Help Us Introduce Audiences to Artists

Left: "A" from alphabet created for Tim Burton exhibition graphics; Right: "A" from alphabet created for Marina Abramović exhibition graphics

What’s so special about a “special” exhibition? For us, MoMA’s graphic designers, they’re special enough to require their own unique graphic identity, and oftentimes a unique identity is all in the letters. For two very different shows now on view at MoMA, Tim Burton and Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present, we created two very different title typefaces. Read more

March 26, 2010  |  Do You Know Your MoMA?
Do You Know Your MoMA? 3/26/2010

How well do you know your MoMA? Above are images of works from the MoMA collection that are currently on view in the galleries. If you think you can identify the artist, title, and location of each work, please submit your answers by leaving a comment on this post.  We’ll provide the answers—along with some information about each work—next Friday, along with the next Do You Know Your MoMA? challenge.


March 26, 2010  |  Rising Currents
Rising Currents: Opening of the Exhibition

Documentation of the P.S.1 workshop phase of the exhibition

Rising Currents opened to the public yesterday. One of the premises of the exhibition is the value of creative collaboration, and in that spirit we encourage visitors to respond to the exhibition by posting comments on the project website at the kiosk inside the gallery.     

The team leaders participated in a panel discussion moderated by myself and Guy Nordenson on Tuesday evening. We posed several questions to the teams, focusing on the unique format of the workshop phase at P.S.1. Specifically, we asked if the teams gained any valuable insights during the Open Houses, when the public was invited to see work in progress.  Read more

March 26, 2010  |  Behind the Scenes, Film, Viewpoints
Ask the Curator: Raj Roy Responds

Chief Curator of Film Rajendra Roy

Last week we asked you to submit your burning questions about the New Directors/New Films Festival or about MoMA’s film program in general. In addition to quite a few inquiries about how to get your film into MoMA’s collection (don’t worry I answered one of those), your curiosity covered quite a range of subjects, so I’ve done my best to answer five of your questions—as well as one irresistible bonus question—as selected by the MoMA blog editors. Thank you all for your interest!

1. What criteria do you employ in choosing films for the festival? Political, artistic, plot, cultural, etc.? [from Jules Margalit]

The essential, and perhaps only, unifying criterion for a film in New Directors/New Films is that it be innovative. This of course can manifest in many ways; often it is structurally, but my no means universally so. Our opening film, Bill Cunningham New York, is a traditional portrait doc. It is the subject himself that is sui generis. Director Richard Press has the presence of mind to allow his film to exist as an open road for Cunningham to navigate (on his Schwinn). Alexei Popogrebsky’s How I Ended This Summer, for example, is formally as well as narratively innovative, immersing us in a landscape that is brand new. Read more

March 25, 2010  |  Film
A Selection from the ND/NF Photo Contest

We asked you to take inspiration from Bill Cunningham’s off-the-cuff, street-level style, and post pictures of your fellow New Yorkers on our New Directors/New Films Facebook page. What resulted was a colorful patchwork of images—some funny, some quirky, some beautiful and poignant—as varied as New York City itself. Thank you all for your submissions!

A winner was chosen randomly, and the lucky photographer won a series pass, plus two tickets to see Bill Cunningham, New York at the Film Society of Lincoln Center on Thursday, March 25. Congrats to our winner, Andrew Piccone!

And here are a few selected entries:

Read more

March 25, 2010  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
Dieter Roth’s Hat

Dieter Roth. Hat. 1965. Screenprint over offset. Publisher and printer: the artist, New Haven. Edition: approx. 20 unique variants. The Museum of Modern Art. The Print Associates Fund, 2009. © 2010 Estate of Dieter Roth

Dieter Roth was a singularly important figure in postwar European art—an iconoclast, really—whose wide-ranging practice, including artist’s books, prints, drawings, sculpture, assemblages, sound recordings, film, music, and poetry, reverberated for decades to come. He was associated with kinetic art, Fluxus, Conceptual art, and concrete poetry, often blurring the boundaries between mediums and movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

As a printmaker, he totally pushed the envelope. He sent slices of greasy sausage and cheese through the printing press, stuck strips of licorice onto etchings, glued croissants onto the covers of the books he designed. He also worked with more traditional techniques like screenprint and etching, sometimes combining them to play with different experimental effects. Read more