Celebrating the publication and exhibition on the 40th anniversary of Nicholas Nixon’s The Brown Sisters, the Department of Photography wanted to share from its collection a selection of “postcards” by Nixon that the photographer sent to the department’s former director, John Szarkowski. On the back of each of these photographs, one finds letters written by Nixon to Szarkowski. Read more
Music is a central component of the films of Bill Morrison (currently the subject of a mid-career retrospective at MoMA) and his collaborations with contemporary composers reflect his early interest in music as “a soundtrack in [his] life” and are informed by his artistic training as a painter and filmmaker. Read more
On Tuesday, November 25, Marina Abramović will yet again be present at a MoMA-related event, but this time the occasion is an in-store signing at the MoMA Design Store, Soho. The artist has designed a limited-edition silk scarf (shown above) in collaboration with the fashion company Pineda Covalin, and she will be on hand to sign scarves and copies of her 2010 MoMA exhibition catalogue, Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present. Read more
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
This weekend multimedia artist Elsa Mora, who designed one of MoMA’s signature holiday cards this year, will bring her incredible cut-paper creations to the MoMA Design Store in Soho. Shoppers, creatives, and art aficionados alike can stop by to see her work come to life, and meet with Mora in person. Read more
There has been a lot of excitement around the opening of the exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs. The Museum has been teeming with energetic visitors who see it and walk away feeling buoyed and inspired. We anticipated that this would be a common response to the exhibition, so over the past few months, in dialogue with the exhibition curators—Karl Buchberg, Jodi Hauptman, and Samantha Friedman—we have been designing educational programming that can complement a visitor’s experience in the galleries and provide an outlet for the creative energy that Matisse’s cut-outs generate. Read more
How does an artist approach the grand tradition of history painting in the era of late capitalism, a time marked not by great heroes and legendary victories but by systemic inequity and unrelenting violence? With Flying Carpet with Magic Mirrors for a Distorted Nation, part of a group of three “flying carpet” paintings that was the centerpiece of his 2013 exhibition From a Late Western Impaerium, Lari Pittman considers the heavy psychological toll of life under a declining empire. Read more
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
Born to aristocratic parents who were first cousins, Toulouse-Lautrec was afflicted with genetic abnormalities. He stopped growing in his early teens at the height of four feet, 11 inches, and as he continued to mature, the growth of his nose and lips outpaced that of his face, causing drooling, lisping, and sinus troubles. Physically unfit for many of the social and sporting elements central to aristocratic life, Toulouse-Lautrec moved to Paris to study art, where he pursued both his creative and social life with vigor. He spent his days working on painting and lithography, and his absinthe-fueled nights at the opera, theaters, cafés, or nightclubs. His life and work merged; he became a chronicler of the Montmartre scenes he frequented.
Suzuki describes Toulouse-Lautrec’s subjects as “resoundingly populist.” She writes, “Toulouse-Lautrec was a nightly visitor to the theater, the circus, and the opera, finding tremendous freedom and inspiration in those milieus.” Toulouse-Lautrec portrayed the performers he adored, like “The Clowness,” Mademoiselle Cha-u-ka-o, a nightclub entertainer.
An 1893 lithograph shows Toulouse-Lautrec’s friend Aristide Bruant, the proprietor of the Mirliton—a Montmartre café. Although Bruant is shown in profile, his back to the viewer, contemporaries would have immediately recognized his large felt hat and velvet coat; the portrait rests on social signifiers rather than on faithful depiction. Suzuki explains that Toulouse-Lautrec “used the low-cut dress of La Goulue, the high-stepping posture of Jane Avril, the gloves of Yvette Guilbert, and the profile of Valentin, rather than traditional portrait likenesses. Toulouse-Lautrec himself was quoted telling Guilbert, ‘Ma chere, I don’t detail you. I totalize you!’”
Using MoMA’s extensive collection of Toulouse-Lautrec’s prints, posters, journals, songs sheets, theatre programs, and illustrated books as her inspiration, Suzuki paints a portrait of an artist whose unique biography, persona, and taste is clearly reflected in his art. She places Toulouse-Lautrec squarely in and of his historical milieu, positing that his work might be seen as a visual distillation of the spirit of the Parisian belle époque.