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MoMA

AUTHOR: SAMANTHA FRIEDMAN

Posts by Samantha Friedman
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November 20, 2014  |  Collection & Exhibitions
Matisse and Gober: Two Chapels

MoMA has been called a temple of modernism, even a sacred destination for art lovers, but that religious language is usually just figurative. With the exhibitions Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs and Robert Gober: The Heart is Not a Metaphor open simultaneously, however, visitors can witness the unlikely confluence of two chapels on 53rd Street (not even counting Saint Thomas, next door). Read more

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November 11, 2014  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
Matisse: The Same Thing, Different Means
Henri Matisse. Two Dancers (Deux danseurs). 1937–38. Stage curtain design for the ballet Rouge et Noir. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, notebook papers, pencil, and thumbtacks, 31 9/16 x 25 3/8” (80.2 x 64.5 cm). Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de création industrielle, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Dation, 1991. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Henri Matisse. Two Dancers (Deux danseurs). 1937–38. Stage curtain design for the ballet Rouge et Noir. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, notebook papers, pencil, and thumbtacks, 31 9/16 x 25 3/8” (80.2 x 64.5 cm). Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de création industrielle, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Dation, 1991. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, currently on view in the Museum’s sixth floor temporary exhibition galleries, looks closely at the works Matisse created in the final decade of his career.  Adopting painted paper as his primary medium, and scissors as his chief implement, he invented a radically new form that came to be called a cut-out. But while this work was utterly new, its concerns were consistent with those that had driven Matisse throughout his entire career. Read more

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September 24, 2014  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
Matisse’s Cut-Outs at MoMA: A Look Back

On October 12, the exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs—the largest presentation of this final chapter of Matisse’s work ever mounted— will open at MoMA.  Much of the anticipation surrounding this show stems from the fact that this visually vibrant and conceptually radical body of work has not been seen on this scale in New York in over 50 years. Read more

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February 27, 2014  |  Collection & Exhibitions
Apollinaire’s Visual Poetry

As artists continue to expand the definition of drawing, and art historians redefine the medium accordingly, the kinds of works on paper we acquire have become increasingly unorthodox, ranging from room-size installations to the traces of performances. Yet sometimes a humble sheet of paper from the beginning of the 20th century is just as radical. Read more

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Letter from Perth: Van Gogh, Dalí, and Beyond: The World Reimagined at AGWA

I’ve just returned from the other side of the world—Perth is our antipodes, at exactly 12 hours ahead of New York—where I was installing the exhibition Van Gogh, Dalí, and Beyond: The World Reimagined at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, along with AGWA curators Gary Dufour and Glenn Iseger-Pilkington. The third installment in a six-show partnership between the two institutions, this exhibition looks at how modern artists have reinvented the traditional genres of landscape, still life, and portrait. A selection of 134 works from MoMA’s collection—paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, and a media work—made the long journey to be enjoyed by a new audience from June until December.

Visitors to AGWA will see how the definition of landscape has evolved from 1889, when Vincent van Gogh painted his iconic The Olive Trees, to 2006, the year of Tacita Dean’s neo-Romantic photogravure installation T&I.

Vincent van Gogh. The Olive Trees. June-July 1889. Oil on canvas28 5/8 x 36" (72.6 x 91.4 cm). Mrs. John Hay Whitney Bequest

Vincent van Gogh. The Olive Trees. 1889. Oil on canvas. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Mrs. John Hay Whitney Bequest

They’ll observe how the meaning of a still life has expanded from Paul Cézanne’s Still Life with Ginger Jar, Sugar Bowl, and Oranges (1902–06), to Michael Craig-Martin’s Folio (2004), a portfolio of 12 brightly-hued screenprints depicting ordinary objects like a sneaker and a cell phone.

Michael Craig-Martin. Untitled from Folio. 2004. Portfolio of twelve screenprints. Composition and sheet (each approx.): 12 7/8 x 39 3/8" (32.7 x 100 cm). Alan Cristea Gallery, London. Advanced Graphics, London, 40. © 2013 U. Streifeneder, Munich / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Germany

Michael Craig-Martin. Untitled from Folio. 2004. Portfolio of 12 screenprints. Alan Cristea Gallery, London. Advanced Graphics, London, 40. © 2013 U. Streifeneder, Munich/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Germany

And they’ll perceive how the possibilities and priorities of portraiture have shifted from Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s La Goulue at the Moulin Rouge (1891–92), to the 2011 installment of Nicholas Nixon’s annual portraits of his wife and her three sisters, The Brown Sisters, Truro, Massachusetts.

Nicholas Nixon. The Brown Sisters, Truro, Massachusetts. 2011. Gelatin silver print. Gift of the artist. © 2013 Nicholas Nixon

Nicholas Nixon. The Brown Sisters, Truro, Massachusetts. 2011. Gelatin silver print. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist. © 2013 Nicholas Nixon

Used to the 90-degree angles of MoMA’s galleries, it was first a challenge—and ultimately a great pleasure—to install in AGWA’s galleries, which are shaped like hexagons, and whose walls follow the angles of a ceiling composed with triangles. These angles create long views that encourage visual connections across galleries, many of which were unplanned but fortuitous. Standing in front of Matisse’s The Blue Window in the exhibition’s still life section, for example, you can look back into the landscape gallery and see Milton Avery’s Sea Grasses and Blue Sea, another painting that tests the border between representation and a blue monochrome.

While hardworking registrars carefully planned the transport of these masterpieces, two works didn’t have to be sent at all. Rocks Upon the Beach Sand Upon the Rocks, a 1988 installation by the artist Lawrence Weiner, describes a landscape only in words, and is remade each time it is installed to fit the exact dimensions of the venue. Below is the version designed in collaboration with the artist’s studio for AGWA.

Lawrence Weiner (American, born 1942).  Rocks Upon the Beach Sand Upon the Rocks, 1988. Language + the materials referred to, dimensions variable.  Acquisition from the Werner Dannheisser Testamentary Trust.  © 2013 Lawrence Weiner / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.  Installation view, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, 2013

Lawrence Weiner. Rocks Upon the Beach Sand Upon the Rocks. 1988. Language and the materials referred to, dimensions variable. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquisition from the Werner Dannheisser Testamentary Trust. © 2013 Lawrence Weiner/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Installation view, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, 2013

And Urs Fischer’s Untitled sculpture from 2000 consists of half an apple and half a pear, screwed together and suspended from nylon filament. The work was not only constructed anew for this venue, but will be remade regularly throughout the course of the exhibition. A kind of postmodern still life, it takes Cézanne’s desire to express the tangible “thingness” of a piece of fruit to a whole new level.

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April 24, 2013  |  Collection & Exhibitions
Mapmaker, Mapmaker, Make Me a Map

A Trip from Here to There, a recently opened collection exhibition in the Paul J. Sachs Drawings Galleries organized by Jodi Hauptman, Curator, Department of Drawings, and Luis Pérez-Oramas, the Estrellita Brodsky Curator of Latin American Art, explores how peripatetic artists represent the routes of their wanderings. Though the paths they trace are personal, many of these artists adopt printed maps as their starting points; Read more

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January 24, 2013  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
Avant-Abstraction: Kupka and Mondrian Represent
Piet Mondrian (Dutch, 1872–1944). Chrysanthemum. 1906. Charcoal on paper, 14 1/4 x 9 5/8" (36.2 x 24.5 cm). Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Armand P. Bartos

Piet Mondrian. Chrysanthemum. 1906. Charcoal on paper, 14 1/4 x 9 5/8″ (36.2 x 24.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Armand P. Bartos

Among the groundbreaking artists included in the exhibition Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925, currently on view in MoMA’s sixth-floor galleries, are František Kupka (Czech, 1871–1957) and Piet Mondrian (Dutch, 1872–1944). Like the other luminaries represented in the show, beginning in the second decade of the 20th century, Kupka and Mondrian jettisoned figuration and pioneered an art of pure form. Read more

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June 14, 2012  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
Endless Anagrams: Hans Bellmer and Anna Gaskell’s Imaginary Conversation

Hans Bellmer. The Doll. 1937. White ink on black paper. The Joan and Lester Avnet Collection. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

In organizing the third-floor Drawings collection exhibition Exquisite Corpses: Drawing and Disfiguration, I opted to create groupings based on artists’ common strategies and themes rather than chronology. Read more

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April 12, 2012  |  Collection & Exhibitions
Marcel Jean, Witness and Sometime Actor

Currently on view in the third-floor drawings galleries, Exquisite Corpses: Drawing and Disfiguration includes five works that belong to this titular category of collaborative creation. The “exquisite corpse” was a parlor game played by Surrealist artists and poets in Paris in the 1920s. Read more

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February 16, 2012  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
A Few More Ways of Looking at a Keith Haring

Keith Haring. Untitled. 1982. Ink on two sheets of paper, sheet: 72 x 671 1/2" (182.9 x 1705.6 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the Estate of Keith Haring, Inc. © 2012 The Keith Haring Foundation

The monumental 1982 Keith Haring drawing Untitled is not often on view, so its inclusion in the Museum’s current installation Contemporary Galleries: 1980–Now seems like an ideal opportunity to think about how this artist’s iconic visual language fits into the larger story of 20th-century art. Read more