Today is the fortieth annual Earth Day, and MoMA is committed to its green efforts. In December MoMA’s Operations Team completed the installation of solar panels on the roof at MoMA QNS, the permanent home for storage of MoMA’s collection and a facility for conservation, study, and research. The project included the installation of 161 solar panels tied to the main Con Edison electrical feed to the building, which is located in the building’s basement. The panels are photovoltaic, meaning that they convert the energy of the sun into electricity. The solar roof at MoMA QNS will generate solar energy for the facility, which will further decrease the Museum’s carbon footprint and subsequently lower energy costs—as such, it represents a major step in making MoMA a more environmentally responsible institution. Read more
At the opening of the Rising Currents exhibition at MoMA, curator Barry Bergdoll used the word “glocal” to describe the impact of this exhibition. At first I thought I misheard, but then I realized he meant that the exhibition was part of the growing global grassroots movement to address the impact of climate change with smart, local solutions. Read more
These notes accompany the Dziga Vertov program, screening April 21, 22, and 23 in Theater 3.
Dziga Vertov (1896–1954) presents some unusual problems with regard to his inclusion in this series. If we define an “auteur” as a filmmaker with a vision who places the stamp of his personality on his work, that presumes that there is a discernible personality or way of looking at the world. While no one could possibly miss the fact that from a technical standpoint, Vertov was a great innovator and expander of the medium (a rival to D. W. Griffith, F. W. Murnau, Sergei Eisenstein, or Alfred Hitchcock), there is reason to question who this guy really was. We do know he was born Denis Arkadievitch Kaufman in what is now Poland (then part of the Czarist empire) and was the elder brother to two other distinguished filmmakers, Mikhail (cameraman on several Vertov films and later a director) and Boris Kaufman (cinematographer for Jean Vigo, Abel Gance, Elia Kazan, and Sidney Lumet). Read more
Tim Burton was one of the most challenging exhibitions our graphic design department has had the pleasure of fully developing. It explores a wide spectrum of Tim Burton’s creative work, including drawings, paintings, photographs, moving images, concept art, storyboards, puppets, maquettes, costumes, and cinematic ephemera. For the exhibition graphic design, our goal was to take all these diverse visual references and distill them into a simple graphic treatment that celebrated Burton’s work. Read more
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.
ANSWERS TO LAST WEEK’S CHALLENGE: Read more
One of the great things about working in museums is the amount of information exchange there is with our fellow colleagues at other cultural institutions. While we all want our museum to be the best it can be (whether its an arts institution, history or social history museum, science museum, or other), there is also a real interest in sharing our experiences and learning from each other. Some of this dialogue takes place informally, one on one; other times it takes place at conferences. There are several museum-focused conferences, including AAM (the American Association of Museums), which is perhaps the largest; MCN (Museum Computer Network); and Museums and the Web. I am currently attending the Museums and the Web conference that is taking place this week in Denver, Colorado, along with Beth Harris and Lisa Mazzola, my colleagues in the Education Department. Read more
I first made a studio visit with Sanja Iveković about ten years ago, when I was invited to organize a large-scale exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, Croatia. She impressed me instantly. I recall thinking, “This is an inspiring artist with whom I will forge a long-lasting relationship.” A feminist, activist, and video pioneer, Iveković came of age in the early 1970s, when artists broke free from mainstream institutional settings, laying the ground for a form of praxis antipodal to official art. Part of the generation known as the Nova Umjetnička Praksa (New Art Practice), she has produced works of cross-cultural resonance that range from conceptual photomontages to video and performance. Last month I visited Iveković again in Zagreb, this time to discuss her first survey exhibition in the U.S., which is scheduled to open at MoMA at the end of 2011. Read more
In this column I have often discussed the efforts made by the Department of Painting and Sculpture to circulate works in our collection galleries as frequently as we can manage, thereby showing the broadest possible range of our extensive holdings. All of our works are historically significant in their own way; still, we do recognize that there are dedicated audiences for certain landmark acquisitions made by the Museum, and so there are a few works that remain on view indefinitely. Les Demoiselles D’Avignon (1907) by Pablo Picasso, The Starry Night (1889) by Vincent van Gogh, and Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory (1931) certainly all fall into this category.
This past August, I visited Marina Abramović at her home in upstate New York, where she was running a workshop with the re-performers of the exhibition Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present. In a series of five videos that show excerpts of my conversation with the artist, she talks about her work, her exhibition at MoMA, and performance art. As an artist who uses her body as a medium, it is fascinating to hear Abramović’s feelings on fear and limitations. In this video, the artist offers her thoughts on the meaning and definition of performance art.
These notes accompany the French Avant-Garde of the 1920s program, screening April 14, 15, and 16 in Theater 3.
Charles Sheeler comes to mind as one of the few American artists who dabbled in film in the 1920s. Whereas in Germany the mainstream Expressionist cinema was itself avant-garde, and in Italy the society became surreal following Mussolini’s rise to power in 1922, France presented a unique instance of a free interplay of filmmakers with other visual artists. This program is an attempt to capture some of this interaction and to suggest how it might have benefited French culture. It also suggests that a society where the movies were totally dominated neither by commerce nor by the state provided an appealing model. It was certainly beneficial to Iris Barry, the founder of The Museum of Modern Art Film Library, to be able to cite names like Man Ray, Duchamp, Léger, and Dalí in establishing the high aspirations and legitimacy of film when appealing for funds from patrons who might look askance at Douglas Fairbanks, Charles Chaplin, or Walt Disney. (It was left for us future generations to make cogent arguments for Otto Preminger, Clint Eastwood, and John Waters.) Read more