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CATEGORY: FIVE FOR FRIDAY

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December 19, 2014  |  Five for Friday
Five For Friday: Hot Pot of Coffee!

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.” Then I had my morning coffee. Suddenly free of the tyranny of adenosine and flush with sweet, sweet dopamine, my more reasonable nature kicked in and I was reminded of the 11th-century Islamic scholar and jurist Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, who said, "No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee’s frothy goodness." Clearly the authors of these studies were unfamiliar with his work.

Okay, so I googled "coffee quotations." That's beside the point. Some of history's greatest minds relied heavily on that rich, dark, hot brain-fuel for stimulation and inspiration. Beethoven and Balzac craved it. Kierkegaard and Sartre couldn't philosophize without it. (Well they probably could, but they didn't want to.) Bach wrote a 10-movement cantata about the stuff.

And artists? Picasso painted coffee grinders and coffee pots. His buddy Matisse couldn't stop putting coffee in his work. Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner used it to keep their painting sessions going. You could probably say that the development of modernism was fueled in large part by coffee and cigarettes. It's no surprise, then, that MoMA's collection is rife with images of hot java—and design objects that make serving it easier and more enjoyable. Here are a few of my favorite examples, along with more coffee-related words of wisdom I found on the Internet.

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1. Ralph Steiner. Eight O'Clock Coffee. 1935
"I have measured out my life with coffee spoons." – T. S. Eliot
 

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2. Peter Schlumbohm. Chemex Coffee Maker. 1941
"Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all." – David Lynch
 

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3. Duane Michals. Coffee Cup, Knife and Book. 1980
"Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee?" – Albert Camus
 

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4. Mary E. Frey. Women and Children During Coffee Break, from the series Domestic Rituals. 1979–83
"Among the numerous luxuries of the table…coffee may be considered as one of the most valuable. It excites cheerfulness without intoxication; and the pleasing flow of spirits which it occasions…is never followed by sadness, languor or debility." – Benjamin Franklin
 

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5. Kurt Schwitters. N Watercolor 1. (The Heart Goes from Sugar to Coffee) (N Aquarell 1. [Das Herz geht vom Zucker zum Kaffee]). 1919
"If it weren’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever." – David Letterman

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October 24, 2014  |  Collection & Exhibitions, Five for Friday
Five for Friday: Halloween Costume Inspiration from MoMA’s Collection

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.

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October 3, 2014  |  Five for Friday
Five for Friday: Leaf Peeping in MoMA’s Collection

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.

As a native of New England, I wasn’t aware there was such a thing as “leaf peeping” until I moved to New York about a dozen years ago. I guess I took for granted the fact that I didn’t have to go somewhere to see the leaves change color. Since I’m unable to get out of the city this weekend—which the Internet confirms is the peak of the “leaf peeping” season—I decided to round up some foliage from MoMA’s collection… Read more

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April 18, 2014  |  Five for Friday
Five for Friday: Rabbit Redux

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.

With Easter just days away and spring in the air (finally), bunnies—whether as anthropomorphized egg-and-candy-delivery agents or symbols of both metaphorical and literal fecundity—are everywhere. Read more

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February 28, 2014  |  Five for Friday
Five for Friday: And the Winner Isn’t—Embarrassing Best Picture Whiffs

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 Museum of Modern Art, Department of Film Academy Award. 1978. Gold-plated britannium on a brass base

The Museum of Modern Art, Department of Film Academy Award. 1978. Gold-plated britannium on a brass base. Photo: Jason Persse

On Sunday the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will hand out another batch of gold-plated statuettes, so armchair filmmakers like myself are all in a lather Read more

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January 31, 2014  |  Five for Friday
Five for Friday: The Picture Stays in the Picture

I am a big proponent for slowing down to look more closely at art when visiting museums. Sometimes, instead of scrambling to see as many works as possible (and finding that few stick), that means focusing in on just a small number of works during a visit. Read more

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December 20, 2013  |  Five for Friday
Five for Friday: Let It Snow!

You may have heard that in the New York City area we’ve already had our first (and second!) snowfall of the season, and while I’m decidedly not in the “dreaming of a white Christmas” camp, I can appreciate the fleeting beauty of pristine winter scenery. Taking a peek into MoMA’s collection turns up many works befitting the season—some that are arguably better than the real thing, and others that are a reminder of the “joys” of winter weather. Read more

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November 22, 2013  |  Five for Friday
Five for Friday: Young, Loud, and Snotty—Punk Posters in the Collection

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.

With the recent death of Lou Reed and the U.K. release of Morrissey’s Autobiography Read more

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October 25, 2013  |  Five for Friday
Five for Friday: Art Proves that Cats Are the Best Thing Ever

Scientists have recently offered up a theory that the parasitic disease toxoplasmosis, which is carried by cats, affects human brain chemistry in creepy ways Read more

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July 19, 2013  |  Five for Friday
Five for Friday: Escape from New York

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.

There are tons of great things about summer in the city, first among them being how the place mellows out. Read more