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CATEGORY: COLLECTION & EXHIBITIONS

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May 21, 2015  |  Collection & Exhibitions
LP Covers—Music in Your Hand

As a member of a pre-mp3 devices generation, I have fond memories of trips to the record store. Holding a great LP cover is like holding its music in your hand; the best are a visual expression or translation of the music they deliver. Read more

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May 8, 2015  |  Do You Know Your MoMA?
Do You Know Your MoMA? 5/8/15

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How well do you know your MoMA? If you think you can identify the artist and title of each of these works from MoMA’s collection—all currently on view throughout the Museum—please submit your answers by leaving a comment on this post. We’ll provide the answers next month (on Friday, June 12). Read more

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May 6, 2015  |  Collection & Exhibitions, Videos
Migration Rhapsody: An Aleatoric Exploration of the Journey North
The full lineup of Migration Rhapsody: An Aleatoric Exploration of the Journey North through Music, Poetry, and Personal Narrative, The Museum of Modern Art, April 23, 2015. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

The full lineup of Migration Rhapsody: An Aleatoric Exploration of the Journey North through Music, Poetry, and Personal Narrative, The Museum of Modern Art, April 23, 2015. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

Music plays a big role in The Museum of Modern Art’s current exhibition One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North. Songs by a diverse range of musicians—Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington, Josh White and Paul Robeson, Louis Armstrong and William Grant Still, to name a few—fill the exhibition galleries. These artists, like the painter Jacob Lawrence himself, were keenly aware of the impact that the Great Migration, the multi-decade mass movement of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North, had on modern American culture. Read more

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April 29, 2015  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
Serial & Singular: Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans

The 32 canvases that make up Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, a landmark in MoMA’s collection, are usually shown in a grid arranged in four rows of eight. For space reasons, this has typically been the most expedient way to exhibit them.

Andy Warhol. Campbell’s Soup Cans. 1962. Synthetic polymer paint on thirty-two canvases, each canvas: 20 x 16" (50.8 x 40.6 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Partial gift of Irving Blum. Additional funding provided by Nelson A. Rockefeller Bequest, gift of Mr. and Mrs. William A. M. Burden, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund, gift of Nina and Gordon Bunshaft in honor of Henry Moore, Lillie P. Bliss Bequest, Philip Johnson Fund, Frances R. Keech Bequest, gift of Mrs. Bliss Parkinson, and Florence B. Wesley Bequest (all by exchange), 1996. ©2015 Andy Warhol Foundation/ARS, NY/TM Licensed by Campbell's Soup Co. All rights reserved

Andy Warhol. Campbell’s Soup Cans. 1962. Synthetic polymer paint on thirty-two canvases, each canvas: 20 x 16″ (50.8 x 40.6 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Partial gift of Irving Blum. Additional funding provided by Nelson A. Rockefeller Bequest, gift of Mr. and Mrs. William A. M. Burden, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund, gift of Nina and Gordon Bunshaft in honor of Henry Moore, Lillie P. Bliss Bequest, Philip Johnson Fund, Frances R. Keech Bequest, gift of Mrs. Bliss Parkinson, and Florence B. Wesley Bequest (all by exchange), 1996. ©2015 Andy Warhol Foundation/ARS, NY/TM Licensed by Campbell’s Soup Co. All rights reserved

But in the Museum’s current exhibition, Andy Warhol: Campbell’s Soup Cans and Other Works, 1953–1967, for the first time at MoMA, and only the fourth time anywhere, they are being presented in a single line. Also for this occasion, the outer frames and Plexiglas barriers that usually cover the canvases have been removed, and the works have been propped on ledges.  The paintings can be perused like groceries lining supermarket shelves.

Installation view of Andy Warhol: Campbell's Soup Cans and Other Works, 1953–1967 at The Museum of Modern Art, April 25–October 12, 2015. Photo: Jonathan Muzikar. © 2015 The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Installation view of Andy Warhol: Campbell’s Soup Cans and Other Works, 1953–1967 at The Museum of Modern Art, April 25–October 12, 2015. Photo: Jonathan Muzikar. © 2015 The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Detail from Campbell’s Soup Cans. © 2015 Andy Warhol Foundation/ ARS, NY/TM Licensed by Campbell's Soup Co. All rights reserved

Detail from Campbell’s Soup Cans

This presentation transforms our perception of the iconic series. When installed in a grid, the canvases can all be seen from a single vantage point. They become a tight unit of seemingly identical images that the eye takes in at once, like wallpaper. But when they are all in a single line at eye-level, wrapping around the gallery walls, it seems as if they could extend almost endlessly, and we are invited to slowly consider the paintings one by one. As we look, unexpected inconsistencies among these hand-painted canvases begin to emerge: the red paint sometimes feels closer to orange, there are variations in the black shadows on the silver tops, one soup can is missing a gold band, the fleur-de-lis stamped on the bottom of each varies…

This installation of Campbell’s Soup Cans was designed to recall the first time they were ever exhibited at the Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, in 1962. Focusing on artists primarily from New York and Los Angeles, Ferus mounted a number of significant exhibitions in the 1960s, including the 1962 Soup Cans exhibition, which was Warhol’s first solo exhibition of paintings and is also considered the first Pop art exhibition on the west coast.

Andy Warhol at his 1342 Lexington Avenue studio with Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962. Collection The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh

Andy Warhol at his 1342 Lexington Avenue studio with Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962. Collection The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh

Ferus director Irving Blum offered the show to Warhol, who was still relatively unknown as a painter, after he first saw six soup-can canvases in 1961 while visiting Warhol’s apartment on Lexington Avenue that doubled as a studio. (Blum went to see Warhol on the suggestion of Ivan Karp, associate director at the Leo Castelli gallery and an early and dedicated champion of Pop art). “…I walked down a corridor,” Blum later described, “and there were paintings of soup cans on the floor, leaning against the wall. I said, ‘Andy, what are those?’ He said, ‘Oh, I’m doing these now.’ And I said, ‘Why more than one?’… He said, ‘I’m going to do 32.’ I simply couldn’t believe it. I said, ‘Why 32?’ He said, ‘There are 32 varieties.’” (Interview with Peter M. Brant, Interview Magazine, April 19, 2012)

After Warhol completed the canvases and sent them to Los Angeles (he was not able to get to L.A. to see the show himself), Blum hung them and placed a ledge beneath them because he was having difficulty making the paintings appear level. Later, when asked about this installation, Blum said, “Cans sit on shelves. Why not?” (Interview Magazine, 2012)

During the run of the exhibition, Blum sold five of the paintings, mostly to his friends, including the actor Dennis Hopper. But before the show was over, he changed his mind—he felt they should remain in a group. Once he managed to reclaim the works, he paid Warhol $1,000 for them in installments over a year (Kirk Varnedoe in Heiner Bastian, Andy Warhol, 2001).

Installation view, Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, 1962, with Campbell’s Soup Cans. Photograph: Seymour Rosen. © SPACES—Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments

Installation view, Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, 1962, with Campbell’s Soup Cans. Photograph: Seymour Rosen. © SPACES—Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments

Blum hoped that eventually the paintings would find a home at a major museum, and in 1996, thanks to an initiative spearheaded by Kirk Varnedoe, former Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, the paintings were acquired by MoMA as a partial gift of Irving Blum, and a partial purchase.

The current exhibition presents the soup-can paintings together with a selection of works Warhol made in the years before and after he completed them, highlighting their pivotal position in the artist’s career. They were made during the moment when Warhol was trying to transform himself from a commercial artist to a fine artist, right before he became a beacon of Pop art in the 1960s. The Campbell’s Soup Cans canvases are among Warhol’s earliest paintings based on American consumer goods, and some of his first works that feature serial images.

The canvases are also are among his last hand-painted works. Soon after completing them, he discovered silkscreen, the medium with which he is most closely associated. Whereas the soup-can paintings had been handcrafted to look as though they were mechanically produced, silkscreen actually was a mechanical—and commercial—process. It enabled Warhol to make a practically limitless number of precise repetitions and variations of his key subjects.

Installation view of Andy Warhol: Campbell's Soup Cans and Other Works, 1953–1967 at The Museum of Modern Art, April 25–October 12, 2015. Photo: Jonathan Muzikar. © 2015 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Shown:  Andy Warhol. Marilyn Monroe. 1967. Portfolio of 10 screenprints, each composition and sheet: 36 x 36″ (91.5 x 91.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art. Publisher: Factory Additions, New York. Printer: Aetna Silkscreen Products Inc., New York. Edition: 250. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mr. David Whitney, 1968. © 2015 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Installation view of Andy Warhol: Campbell’s Soup Cans and Other Works, 1953–1967 at The Museum of Modern Art, April 25–October 12, 2015. Photo: Jonathan Muzikar. © 2015 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Shown:
Andy Warhol. Marilyn Monroe. 1967. Portfolio of 10 screenprints, each composition and sheet: 36 x 36″ (91.5 x 91.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art. Publisher: Factory Additions, New York. Printer: Aetna Silkscreen Products Inc., New York. Edition: 250. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mr. David Whitney, 1968. © 2015 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

He once explained his preference for silk-screening: “I find it easier to use a screen. This way, I don’t have to work on my objects at all. One of my assistants or anyone else, for that matter, can reproduce the design as well as I could” (Andy Warhol in Kaspar König, Andy Warhol, 1968).

Because we so often think of the Warhol who wanted to be a machine, rapidly turning out silkscreens, films, and photographs, it’s almost counterintuitive to think of him with brush in hand. Campbell’s Soup Cans holds a unique place in Warhol’s body of work: they are at once serial and singular, have a mechanical look, but were made manually, and in this exhibition—as they were at Ferus in 1962—they are both paintings on a wall, and cans on a shelf.

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April 24, 2015  |  Five for Friday
Five for Friday: Yes We Can! (or Nice Cans, or It’s in the Can)

Five for Friday, written by a variety of MoMA staff members, is our attempt to spotlight some of the compelling, charming, and downright curious works in the Museum’s rich collection.

The exhibition Andy Warhol: Campbell’s Soup Cans and Other Works, 1953–1967 opens tomorrow (April 25), and as the title implies, the show’s focal point is Warhol’s iconic 1962 suite of 32 paintings of, well, Campbell’s Soup cans. Read more

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April 22, 2015  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
A Homecoming for Romare Bearden’s The Visitation
Romare Bearden (American, 1911−1988). The Visitation. 1941. Gouache, ink, and pencil on brown paper, 30 1/2 x 46 1/2" (77.5 x 118.1 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (by exchange). Acquired with the cooperation of the Estate of Nanette Bearden and the Romare Bearden Foundation whose mission is to preserve the legacy of the artist. © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Romare Bearden (American, 1911−1988). The Visitation. 1941. Gouache, ink, and pencil on brown paper, 30 1/2 x 46 1/2″ (77.5 x 118.1 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (by exchange). Acquired with the cooperation of the Estate of Nanette Bearden and the Romare Bearden Foundation whose mission is to preserve the legacy of the artist. © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Before Romare Bearden turned to the medium of collage in 1964—the multilayered compositions, for which he is best known—he was steeped in the language of drawing and painting. The Visitation (1941) (now on view in the exhibition One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North) exemplifies a critical early moment in the development of an artist who would become a leading voice in the cultural life of Harlem and in the history of American art. Recently acquired by MoMA, The Visitation returns to the Museum’s galleries for the first time since the 1971 retrospective Romare Bearden: The Prevalence of Ritual. Read more

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April 10, 2015  |  Do You Know Your MoMA?
Do You Know Your MoMA? 4/10/15

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How well do you know your MoMA? If you think you can identify the artist and title of each of these works from MoMA’s collection—all currently on view throughout the Museum—please submit your answers by leaving a comment on this post. We’ll provide the answers next month (on Friday, May 8). Read more

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April 2, 2015  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
Mark Bradford’s Urban Etchings
Mark Bradford (American, b. 1961). Untitled. 2012. Series of 14 etching and photogravures with chine-collé. Each sheet: 20 x 16" (50.8 x 40.6 cm). Publisher: Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York. Printer: Lower East Side Printshop, New York. Edition: 25. Installation view, Scenes for a New Heritage: Contemporary Art from the Collection, 2015–16, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Committee on Prints and Illustrated Books Fund, 2014. © 2015 Mark Bradford. Photo: David Moreno

Mark Bradford (American, b. 1961). Untitled. 2012. Series of 14 etching and photogravures with chine-collé. Each sheet: 20 x 16″ (50.8 x 40.6 cm). Publisher: Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York. Printer: Lower East Side Printshop, New York. Edition: 25. Installation view, Scenes for a New Heritage: Contemporary Art from the Collection, 2015–16, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Committee on Prints and Illustrated Books Fund, 2014. © 2015 Mark Bradford. Photo: David Moreno

Scenes for a New Heritage: Contemporary Art from the Collection, a sweeping reinstallation of MoMA’s Contemporary Galleries, is a markedly cross-medium selection of works from the Museum’s collection. Created in the past three decades by more than 30 international artists, the works in the exhibition span a range of approaches that respond to the political, social, and cultural flux of our time.

Situated prominently in one of the final galleries, and on view at MoMA for the first time, Mark Bradford’s set of untitled 2012 etchings leave an unexpected mark—both literally and figuratively. Read more

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April 1, 2015  |  Collection & Exhibitions
. at MoMA
Artist unknown. .. n.d. The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Artist unknown. . (period). n.d. Here displayed in Times New Roman. The Museum of Modern Art, New York

MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design has acquired the . (aka “period,” “hard stop,” or “baseline dot”) into its collection.

As MoMA has proven with its recent acquisition of the “@” symbol, it is more important to recognize major design innovations than it is to actually, you know, possess them, and few things are more deserving of recognition that our concise little friend the .. Read more

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March 27, 2015  |  Collection & Exhibitions, Design
This Is for Everyone: Free Play
Golan Levin. Free Art and Technology Lab, R. Shawn Sims, Sy-Lab. Free Universal Construction Kit. 2012. Digital CAD files and 80 3-D-printed nylon units. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the Committee on Architecture & Design and Shapeways

Golan Levin. Free Art and Technology Lab, R. Shawn Sims, Sy-Lab. Free Universal Construction Kit. 2012. Digital CAD files and 80 3-D-printed nylon units. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the Committee on Architecture & Design and Shapeways

When the world we live in feels too impossible I find myself imagining the world I want to live in. It’s not just about the major acts of horrific inhumanity that humans bestow upon one another, it’s about the small daily indignities too. In the world I want to live in we’re not senselessly slaughtering each other, and no one throws trash on the ground or holds the entire communal table in the coffee shop hostage with their cell phone conversation, either. And people actually do step aside to let the passengers off the train. In the world I want to live in, it’s understood that we are all in this together. Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I’m convinced that the smallest effort toward compatibility goes a long way. Read more