In July of 1963 the French artist Jean Dubuffet (1901–1985) declared of his radical lithographs, “Sometimes I took imprints of every chance element that might even suggest something: the ground, walls, stones, old suitcases, any or every sort of object—I even went so far as to do them from the naked skin of a friend’s back—and sometimes I obtained astonishing images…that I had sprinkled with tiny elements such as wires, crumbs, bits of torn paper, and all sorts of debris….” Read more
The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World has, as the critics have said, been “a long time coming” and “long anticipated.” The art world has been waiting for MoMA to take a position on contemporary painting now that worry over the “death of painting” in the 1980s and 1990s has been more or less settled by the medium’s persistence in both artists’ studios and the (much-maligned) painting-heavy art market. Read more
In 1969 American composer Alvin Lucier first performed his landmark work I Am Sitting in a Room, conceived for voice and electromagnetic tape. Lucier read a text into a microphone. Attempting to smooth out his stutter, he began with the lines, “I am sitting in a room, the same one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice.” As described in the text, his voice was recorded, then played back into the room. This process was repeated, and with each iteration Lucier’s recorded speech grew muddled, sounding distant, and specific sonic frequencies started to dominate the recorded sound. Read more
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, February 13). Read more
The artist Christopher Wool is never through with a form just because he’s used it before. Rather, in a perpetual cycle of self-appropriation, he runs the visual elements he creates through numerous incarnations, constantly experimenting with shifts in scale and medium. Read more
“Don’t you wonder sometimes/’Bout sound and vision?” sings David Bowie wistfully on a track from the album Low, released in 1977. Recently I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how music—an essentially invisible and immaterial art form—grounds us in the physical world, influencing the mood and tone of everyday life. Without it we definitely lose our bearings. Read more
It’s a dream job: my role in marketing and communications at MoMA is to get the public excited by telling stories about our exhibitions and programs. It’s also a fast-moving and fluid media environment; we need to constantly experiment with new ways of telling those stories, and test new channels for connecting with an audience that has many options for enjoying art and culture. Read more
“What floor is the copycat exhibition on?” I recently overheard a museum visitor ask this of a security guard, presumably hoping to locate Sturtevant: Double Trouble. At first glance, the exhibition appears to be a group show of 20th-century masterpieces—a Jasper Johns flag painting here, an Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe there—until you realize that these are all by Sturtevant, an American artist best known for making her own versions of the works of her contemporaries, including Joseph Beuys, Marcel Duchamp, Keith Haring, and many others. Read more
In 1952 Henri Matisse was commissioned to make a stained-glass window for the Time Life Company.
The window, titled Nuit de Noël, was exhibited at Rockefeller Center during the holiday season, and on December 4, 1952, Matisse wrote to MoMA’s founding director Alfred H. Barr: Read more
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.
A few years ago a series of studies suggested that, despite all evidence to the contrary, coffee might inhibit creativity. Upon learning of this, my initial reaction was something along the lines of, “Why don’t you take your science and cram it, Einstein.” Read more