January 18, 2011  |  An Auteurist History of Film
Jean Renoir’s La Marseillaise

These notes accompany the screening of Jean Renoir’s La Marseillaise on January 19 and 20 in Theater 3, and January 21 in Theater 2.

We were scheduled to screen La Grande Illusion this week. Instead, we have substituted the film Jean Renoir (1894–1979) made next, La Marseillaise. Although unintended, this change may have a beneficial effect in that we are able to include a far less familiar movie, one that reveals some interesting things about the director, his aspirations, and his limitations. Read more

January 14, 2011  |  Five for Friday
Five for Friday: This One Goes to 11

“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. Read more

January 13, 2011  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
Haegue Yang’s Can Cosies

Haegue Yang. Can Cosies. 2010. Multiple of five cans in knit covers. Publisher and fabricator: the artist, Berlin and Seoul. Edition: 5. The Museum of Modern Art

At first glance, Haegue Yang’s Can Cosies, a recent addition to MoMA’s collection, seem daintily delightful. They are soft (even squishy!) to the touch, colorful, and quirky, as seen in the knitted design of the sleeves. But pick one up and peek under the cover and you are instantly reminded of the mundane object in the work’s title—they’re really cans of tomatoes. Read more

Warhol Is Boring, and That’s Great

“I like boring things.” – Andy Warhol

As we prepared for the Andy Warhol: Motion Pictures exhibition, we struggled with how to create an online experience for the exhibition. Our colleagues in Graphic Design came up with a simple and elegant idea: a site where people could submit their own “screen tests” in the style of Warhol’s iconic works, and view others’ submissions. The site is live at Read more

January 11, 2011  |  An Auteurist History of Film
Fritz Lang’s You Only Live Once

You Only Live Once. 1937. USA. Directed by Fritz Lang

You Only Live Once. 1937. USA. Directed by Fritz Lang

These notes accompany the screening of Fritz Lang’s You Only Live Once on January 12, 13, and 14 in Theater 3.

The American-made films of Viennese-born Fritz Lang (1890–1976) will be the subject of a comprehensive retrospective at New York City’s Film Forum from January 28 through February 10. A number of his German classics appear in our own Weimar Cinema, 1919–1933: Daydreams and Nightmares exhibition, and a restored Metropolis (1926) recently had a run at Manhattan’s largest movie house. So it would be hard to argue that Lang is a forgotten director. Read more

Drawing in Space: On Line Performances at MoMA

Xavier Le Roy. Still from Self Unfinished. 1998. Photo © Katrin Schoof

There’s a long history of dance and performance both inspiring and being influenced by the visual arts. The current MoMA exhibition On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century, on view on the sixth floor, is full of examples of artists trying to capture dancers’ moving bodies in drawings, paintings and sculpture, as well as documenting them on film. If a line is the trace of a point in motion—an idea at the heart of On Line—then a human figure moving through space can be seen as a drawing in air, an insertion of drawing into the time and three-dimensional space of our lived world. Read more

January 7, 2011  |  Do You Know Your MoMA?
Do You Know Your MoMA? 1/7/2011

How well do you know your MoMA? If you think you can identify the artist and title of each of these works—all currently on view in the Contemporary Art from the Collection exhibition in the second floor Contemporary Galleries—please submit your answers by leaving a comment on this post. We’ll provide the answers—along with some information about each work—in two weeks (on Friday, January 21), along with the next Do You Know Your MoMA? challenge.


January 5, 2011  |  Collection & Exhibitions, Tech, Videos
Just a Bunch of Paintings with Lines?
Still from The Painting Techniques of Mark Rothko: No. 16 (Red, Brown, and Black)

Still from MoMA's video The Painting Techniques of Mark Rothko: No. 16 (Red, Brown, and Black)

At the beginning of the video on the painting techniques of Barnett Newman that we produced for MoMA’s Abstract Expressionist New York iPad app (and the exhibition’s website), Corey D’Augustine, a conservator and instructor of the on-site and online course Materials and Techniques of Postwar Abstract Painting tells this story: Read more

January 4, 2011  |  An Auteurist History of Film
Frank Borzage’s History Is Made at Night

History Is Made at Night. 1937. USA. Directed by Frank Borzage

History Is Made at Night. 1937. USA. Directed by Frank Borzage

These notes accompany the screening of Frank Borzage’s History Is Made at Night on January 5, 6, and 7 in Theater 3.

Frank Borzage (1893–1962) (like last week’s subject, Leo McCarey) was a great romanticist who deserves to be better remembered. In the silent period, after a decade-long apprenticeship as a director and sometime actor, he made such visually striking, stylish, and deliriously romantic films as Seventh Heaven (winner of the very first Oscar for directing), Street Angel (which we looked at last spring), The River, and Lucky Star, all starring Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor (except for the forgettable Mary Duncan in The River.) Borzage’s career took a few strange turns in the sound period, especially for a former minor silver miner from Salt Lake City. Read more

January 3, 2011  |  Film
Bertolucci on Bertolucci

Bernardo Bertolucci. Photo by Brad Balfour

In December I had the very amazing opportunity to participate in a roundtable interview with famed Italian director and screenwriter Bernardo Bertolucci, who was in town for the opening of MoMA’s full-career retrospective of his work. Read more