“I went to my friend’s house one day, and he had an electric guitar he had just bought with a tiny little amp. I turned the volume up to 10 and I hit one chord, and I said, I’m in love.” – Ace Frehly (Kiss)
“The most important part of my religion is to play guitar.” – Lou Reed
Despite several abortive attempts over the years, I never learned to play the guitar. At every turn I’ve been thwarted by laziness, a lack of dedication, and a set of 10 thumbs. This has made finding work in my chosen vocation—globe-trotting rock megastar—rather difficult. Luckily, I still spend my weekdays surrounded by some of the world’s most beautiful guitars…in a manner of speaking. In anticipation of MoMA’s upcoming Picasso: Guitars 1912–1914 exhibition (February 13–June 6), I wanted to focus on some other guitar-related works in the Museum’s collection.
MoMA Shreds on Guitar
Christian Marclay. Guitar Drag. 2000
No one said you had to respect your instrument (just ask professional guitar-smasher Pete Townshend). Besides, guitars make the coolest sounds when they’re under the most stress.
William H. Johnson. Blind Singer. c. 1940
The best thing about this Harlem Renaissance masterpiece is its reversal of traditional gender roles. (This reminds me of a pre-insanity Courtney Love quote: “I want every girl in the world to pick up a guitar and start screaming.”)
Tim Bavington. Physical S.E.X. 2005
Bavington captured the dynamism of guitar music by translating a scorching guitar solo into pure color.
Yoshitomo Nara. Untitled (Pup with guitar). 1992–2000
Sometimes holding a guitar is all about attitude, and this bored-looking pup looks like she’s about to rock some faces off.
So remember kids, whether you want to be a guitar god or have your work hanging in MoMA someday, there’s only one magic formula: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.