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AUTHOR: HANNAH KIM

Posts by Hannah Kim
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January 24, 2014  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
Diving into Rauschenberg’s Canyon

Cover of Raushenberg: Canyon by Leah Dickerman, published by The Museum of Modern Art

Cover of Raushenberg: Canyon by Leah Dickerman, published by The Museum of Modern Art

As recounted in curator Leah Dickerman’s new book, Rauschenberg: Canyon , in 1959 Robert Rauschenberg received a call from a friend, the artist Sari Dienes, who wanted to offer him a taxidermied bald eagle she had fished out from the junk heap of a recently deceased neighbor, one of the last of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. Rauschenberg had recently become famous for incorporating all types of found materials into his art, so this kind of offer from friends was not unusual. He didn’t hesitate to turn down objects that weren’t quite right, but in this case, he said yes at once.

Rauschenberg affixed the bald eagle onto a canvas that would eventually become Canyon (1959), one in a series of radically experimental works he called Combines, which mixed paint and other art materials with things found in daily life. In Canyon, a seemingly incongruous variety of objects surround the eagle, including a photograph of Rauschenberg’s son, Christopher; a postcard of the Statue of Liberty; a man’s white shirt, cut and opened up; a crumpled tube of paint; fragments of printed words; and an industrial metal drum.

Rauschenberg: Canyon, the latest volume in the MoMA One on One series, sheds light on the genesis of this startling and enigmatic work by tracing the artist’s education, influences, and travels through Italy, Morocco, and Spain. Rauschenberg first started using found materials while attending Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina, where every student was required to pitch in with community labor. Rauschenberg volunteered for garbage collection, and ended up incorporating the objects he found in his classmates’ trash into his art. The hybrid creations he began producing in the mid-1950 with recognizable, everyday items offered a defiant counterpoint to the quintessential American style of Abstract Expressionism that prevailed at the time. As he wrote in his earliest statement on the Combines, in 1956: “I consider the text of a news­paper, the detail of a photograph, the stitch in a baseball, and the filament in a light bulb as fundamental to the painting as brush stroke or enamel drip of paint. In the end, what one sees as my work is what I choose to make with no guaran­tee of enlightenment, humor, beauty or art.”


Canyon, currently on view at MoMA in Ileana Sonnabend: Ambassador for the New, had been in gallerist Ileana Sonnabend’s personal collection since she purchased it from the artist the year it was made. Sonnabend was one of Rauschenberg’s lifelong champions, and her support played a significant role in his becoming the first American artist to be awarded the grand prize at the Venice Biennale, in 1964. Following her death in 2007, her heirs entered a curious debate with the IRS regarding the work. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and the Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940 made it illegal to buy, sell, barter, or possess a bald eagle in the U.S. Canyon was allowed to remain in Sonnabend’s collection because Rauschenberg had provided a notarized statement saying the bird had been stuffed by one of Roosevelt’s Rough Riders before the laws’ passage, but because it could not be sold, the family’s appraisers had valued it at zero. The IRS disagreed, ruling that it was worth far more, and assessed an estate tax and penalties on the heirs. The resolution they reached allowed the family to donate the work to a U.S. institution in exchange for dropping the tax claim. Thus, in 2012, Canyon was generously donated to The Museum of Modern Art, where it joins five other Combines, to provide an in-depth representation of this key aspect of Rauschenberg’s career.

To learn more, download a free preview of Rauschenberg: Canyon by Leah Dickerman.

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December 11, 2013  |  Collection & Exhibitions, Publications
The Pleasures of Living Well
Cover of <i>Living Well Is the Best Revenge</i>

Cover of Living Well Is the Best Revenge

First published in 1971 and newly reissued by MoMA, Living Well Is the Best Revenge by New Yorker staff writer Calvin Tomkins is the now-classic account of the lives of Gerald and Sara Murphy, two fascinating American expatriates who lived an extraordinary life in France in the 1920s. Read more

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December 6, 2013  |  Film, Publications
Lessons from The Berlin School
Cover of The Berlin School: Films from the Berliner Schule

Cover of The Berlin School: Films from the Berliner Schule

Beginning in the mid-1990s, a loose affiliation of filmmakers, graduates of the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin, began creating films that offered a new, aesthetically-driven form of cinema. Read more

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September 19, 2013  |  Artists, Publications
Rediscovering The Prints of Paul Klee
<i>The Prints of Paul Klee</i>

The Prints of Paul Klee

In 1947, The Museum of Modern Art published a deluxe portfolio of The Prints of Paul Klee, a luxurious green ribbon-bound box encasing 40 individual prints of Paul Klee’s etchings and lithographs, and a booklet by James Thrall Soby, then Chairman of the Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture. Read more

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Introducing Young Frank, Architect
Cover of <i>Young Frank, Architect</i>

Cover of Young Frank, Architect, published by The Museum of Modern Art

Young Frank, Architect, MoMA’s first storybook for kids ages three to eight, follows the adventures of Young Frank, a resourceful young architect who lives in New York City with his grandfather, Old Frank, who is also an architect. Young Frank sees creative possibilities everywhere, and likes to use anything he can get his hands on—macaroni, old boxes, spoons, and sometimes even his dog, Eddie—to creates things like chairs out of toilet paper rolls and twisting skyscrapers made up of his grandfather’s books. But Old Frank is skeptical; he doesn’t think that’s how REAL architects make things.

One day, donning matching bow ties, straw boater hats, and Le Corbusier-inspired glasses, they visit The Museum of Modern Art, where they see the work of renowned architects like Frank Gehry and Frank Lloyd Wright. And they learn that real architects do in fact create wiggly chairs, twisty towers, and even entire cities. Inspired by what they see, Young Frank and Old Frank return home to build structures of every shape and size: “tall ones, fat ones, round ones, and one made from chocolate chip cookies.”

Spread from <i>Young Frank, Architect</i>

Spread from Young Frank, Architect

Spread from <i>Young Frank, Architect</i>

Spread from Young Frank, Architect

Spread from <i>Young Frank, Architect</i>

Spread from Young Frank, Architect

Written by award-winning children’s author and illustrator Frank Viva, a frequent cover artist for The New Yorker whose previous books include Along A Long Road and A Long Way Away, Young Frank, Architect is an inspiration for budding architects as well as a lesson for those who think they’ve seen everything. With its rich color palette of grays, olives, ambers, and cream (it’s printed using nine colors instead of the usual four), it’s a great introduction to MoMA’s diverse architecture and design collection, which includes surprising objects like Arthur Young’s helicopter in addition to furniture and architectural models.

Young Frank, Architect is a MoMA Exclusive for the month of August, meaning it’s available only at the MoMA Stores now through its wide release in September. Snag a copy and spend the dog-days of August exploring architecture. What will it inspire you to build?

To see more of Young Frank’s adventure, check out our video book trailer below.

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June 19, 2013  |  Collection & Exhibitions, Publications
“Corbusian Atlas” Takes Readers in a New Direction
Cover of Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes published by The Museum of Modern Art

Cover of Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes published by The Museum of Modern Art

As the leader of the International Style, the Swiss-born, Paris-based architect Le Corbusier had the rare opportunity to build on three continents at a time when airplanes were still a new method of transportation. Read more

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June 12, 2013  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
Ell Shapes for Ellsworth Kelly
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Cover of the exhibition catalogue Ellsworth Kelly: Chatham Series, published by The Museum of Modern Art

The iconic American artist Ellsworth Kelly celebrated his 90 birthday on May 31, and in his honor, MoMA has reunited the 14 ell-shaped paintings of his seminal Chatham Series for the first time since they were originally exhibited in 1972.

Though it is whimsical to think that the ell-shaped canvases were chosen as an ode to ELLsworth kELLy’s big day, the paintings are considered to be among Kelly’s greatest contributions to abstract art. Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture Ann Temkin details the fascinating story behind the series in MoMA’s new book, Ellsworth Kelly: Chatham Series.

In 1970, Kelly decided to leave New York City, where he had been living and working since the 1950s, for a more rural environment. After a period of exploratory road trips, he settled in Spencertown, two hours north of Manhattan, and established a studio in the nearby town of Chatham. This newfound location proved to be an important influence in Kelly’s artistic development, serving as an inspiration for his work.

Kelly’s studio in Chatham was in a 19th-century brick building featuring nearly 12-foot-tall windows along its upper floor. After spying the striking windows from the sidewalk while exploring the town, Kelly entered the barber shop on the ground floor of the building to inquire about the space and learned that, after stints as an opera house, banquet hall, roller rink, and more, it was functioning as a storage space, holding the town’s Christmas lights. The barber and a neighboring shopkeeper co-owned the space, and they agreed to rent it out to Kelly for $50 a month. The space was far more spacious than any studio Kelly has previous occupied, and the isolated location allowed him to explore his ideas without external influence.

Ellsworth Kelly outside his studio, 13 Main Street, Chatham, 1970

Ellsworth Kelly outside his studio, 13 Main Street, Chatham, 1970

After a year of transforming and customizing the space for his needs, Kelly began work on the first series he would produce there in 1971. Each of the 14 large-scale paintings in the Chatham series are made of two monochromatic canvases that are joined together at a right angle, yet no two are the same, allowing the artist to experiment with color and proportion. Temkins’s essay provides an in-depth exploration of the various aspects of this iconic series, including scale, process, and the reception the Chatham Series received when it was first exhibited to the public at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, in 1972.

Ellsworth Kelly’s studio, Chatham, New York, 1972

Ellsworth Kelly’s studio, Chatham, New York, 1972

The paintings now belong to 14 different collections, but Ellsworth Kelly: Chatham Series brings them back together for the first time since their debut so museumgoers and readers alike can explore one of Kelly’s most significant achievements in its entirety. For more on the series, download a free PDF sample of the exhibition catalogue for an excerpt from the essay. The book also features as essay by the director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery that accompanied the first exhibition of the series, vibrant reproductions of each of the 14 paintings, additional illustrations including vintage photographs of Kelly’s studio, and much more.

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Oldenburg’s Burgers: Delicious at All Ages
Cover of What is Contemporary Art? A Guide for Kids by Jacky Klien and Suzy Klein, published by The Museum of Modern Art

Cover of What is Contemporary Art? A Guide for Kids by Jacky Klein and Suzy Klein, published by The Museum of Modern Art

MoMA’s current exhibition, Claes Oldenburg: The Street and The Store, celebrates the early years of artist Claes Oldenburg’s extraordinary career, when he experimented with painting and sculpture by reworking the stuff of every day into larger than life objects made with unexpected materials. Read more

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May 15, 2013  |  Artists, Publications
A Modern Way to Explore Three Great Figures of Mexican Art

Taking monumental frescos to a multitouch screen, MoMA’s eBook Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Josè Clemente Orozco offers a fresh exploration of three great figures in the revival of mural painting that brought modern Mexican art to international attention after the Mexican Revolution of 1910–20. Read more

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Henri Labrouste’s “Precision and Liberty”
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Cover of the exhibition catalogue Henri Labrouste: Structure Brought to Light, published by The Museum of Modern Art

French architect Henri Labrouste (1801–1875) may not be an instantly recognizable name, yet he is one of the most influential precursors of modern architecture. Most well known for two luminous library reading rooms built in Paris in the 1800s, the Bibliothèque nationale de France (1838–50) and the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève (1859–75), Labrouste has been long admired by both modernists and postmodernists for his innovative embrace of then-new technologies, like cast iron and gas lighting. Read more