Posts in ‘Viewpoints’
June 3, 2013  |  Intern Chronicles
Guns and Design
Claes Oldenburg. Empire (Papa) Ray Gun. 1959. Vija Celmins. Gun with Hand #1. 1964.

From left: Claes Oldenburg. Empire (Papa) Ray Gun. 1959. Casein on papier-mâché over wire. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist. © 1959 Claes Oldenburg. Photo: MoMA Imaging Services; Vija Celmins. Gun with Hand #1. 1964. Oil on canvas. Gift of Edward R. Broida in honor of John Elderfield. © 2013 Vija Celmins

If you visit Claes Oldenburg’s Ray Gun Wing, currently on display in MoMA’s Marron Atrium, you can see his collection of toy guns, metal gun-like constructions, and gun-evoking pieces of detritus, all arrayed like exotic butterflies in a naturalist’s cabinet of wonder. Read more

MoMA Learning Community Spotlight: Phaedra Mastrocola at Berkeley Carroll Lower School, Brooklyn
Visual Arts teacher Phaedra Mastrocola works with 2nd and 4th graders at Berkeley Carroll Lower School, Brooklyn

Visual Arts teacher Phaedra Mastrocola works with second- and fourth-graders at Berkeley Carroll Lower School, Brooklyn

One driving metaphor behind MoMA Learning—the museum’s digital hub for educational resources on modern and contemporary art—was that of a “tool box” or “kit”—an assemblage of parts that could be used, shared, and modified for a variety of learning environments and styles. Read more

November 8, 2012  |  Family & Kids, Visitor Viewpoint
MoMA Studio: Common Senses Welcomes Families After Hurricane Sandy

Visitors to MoMA Studio: Common Senses in the days after Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Jackie Armstrong

When I received notice that MoMA would be reopening to the public and its employees on Wednesday, October 31, after being closed for two days due to Hurricane Sandy, I have to admit that I wondered if it was too soon. Read more

July 9, 2012  |  Intern Chronicles
In Search of Lost Art: Kurt Schwitters’s Merzbau

Picture with Light Center by Kurt Schwitters, 1919

Kurt Schwitters. Picture with Light Center. 1919. Cut-and-pasted colored paper and printed paper, watercolor, oil, and pencil on board. Purchase. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

It was a gray, humid day in Hannover, Germany, and I was on a mission: to experience the Merzbau, a room-sized, living sculptural construction by artist Kurt Schwitters. But how do you experience something that doesn’t exist? Read more

June 26, 2012  |  Intern Chronicles, Viewpoints
The Language of Access

The Louvre at sunset

How do you say “accessibility” in French? As the Community and Access Programs Twelve-Month Intern at MoMA, I had the opportunity to venture to Paris and see how museums there provide access for people with disabilities. Read more

June 18, 2012  |  Intern Chronicles
Crossovers: A Journey to Paris and London

The garden at Charleston Trust. Photo: Jasmine Helm

While crossing under the East River during my daily train ride on the LIRR, I recalled the train I took from Paris to London, which passed under a much larger body of water: the English Channel. In the weeks since my trip, I attempted to find a word to describe my journey, and I’ve determined that I experienced a series of crossovers Read more

June 11, 2012  |  Behind the Scenes, Intern Chronicles
Discovering the Sights and Sites of the Havana Biennial

Ellen leads the way as we descend into the ruins of the ballet school

After our cab driver takes us what feels far away from the city center of Havana—past brightly colored houses, ominous government buildings, and a circus tent—Ellen and I finally arrive at the Instituto Superior de Artes (ISA), or Higher Institute of Art. Read more

June 4, 2012  |  Behind the Scenes, Intern Chronicles
Music as Weather: Reflections on a Journey East

Sitting before a large glass window at Narita International Airport, en route back home to New York, I contemplated endings. For the past two weeks I had been traveling across Japan on a travel grant, researching Japanese performance and print culture from the historical avant-garde to the contemporary. Read more

May 21, 2012  |  Intern Chronicles, Viewpoints
A Seamless Whole: New Conceptions of Time and Space in Japan

“The world is one, a seamless whole, for those who can see it; for those who can learn to observe, to regard, to understand.”—Donald Richie

The hallway leading into Kurenboh, a "meditation gallery" attached to the Chohouin Buddhist Temple of Kuramae, Tokyo

As I emerged from Kurenboh, a gallery tucked away in the Kuramae area of Tokyo, the words of Donald Richie, former Curator of Film at MoMA (1969–72), resonated in my mind. Read more

May 7, 2012  |  Intern Chronicles
Art Adventures in the Wild West

Abandoning the New York chip on my shoulder, I headed towards sunny Los Angeles ready to take in whatever the city threw my way. I had never been to the City of Angels, and the coincidence of Pacific Standard Time with the annual College Art Association (CAA) conference provided the perfect opportunity for me to learn more about the history of art and design in the region, while exploring the contemporary L.A. art scene.

Living in a Modern Way: California Design 1930–65 is the first major exhibition of mid-century modern design in California. From the first Barbie Dream House to the Studebaker Avanti car to a full reconstruction of the Eames House living room, the show examines the objects, environments, and attitudes that defined West Coast style and living at mid-century. A large curved metal armature, designed by architects Craig Hodgetts and Ming Fung weaves through the exhibition, creating intimate enclaves within the open-plan galleries while permitting visitors sightlines through the successive galleries.  Framed by this structure are myriad seemingly disparate objects—a shiny Airstream trailer, the Eameses’ molded plywood LCW chair, Ruth Asawa’s abstract wire sculptures—that collectively define a modernism that is lighter, brighter, and more relaxed than its staid European counterparts.

Installation view of California Design showing Ruth Asawa’s wire sculpture, Paul Tuttle’s Z Chair, and Evelyn and Jerome Ackerman’s Ellipses mosaic. Photo courtesy LACMA

In association with the exhibition, I attended a panel discussion with graphic designer Lou Danziger, architect Ray Kappe, and designer Gere Kavanaugh (all three have work in the show), who collectively looked back on Los Angeles as a land of opportunity, a working environment uninhibited by the past and brimming with artists and designers full of idealistic visions of the future. This idealism and sense of hope was palpable in the exhibition, but I wondered to what extent it remained today.

My friend Donielle invited me to a preview tour of Miss Youan exhibition of work by the Brazilian street artists Os Gemeos, led by the artists and MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch for the Contemporaries, a premier membership group for young people in the arts. For the exhibition, the identical twin brothers created an immersive fantasy world with paintings, light installations, textiles, and an interactive video. Every inch of the gallery was transformed. The red walls bled into the floors and ceilings, creating a womb-like environment from which amoebic light-heads emerged and illuminated the room. Along the perimeter of the space hung portraits of the yellow-skinned inhabitants of the brothers’ fantasy world. They described the characters like  family members, noting things about their personalities and lifestyles not shown in the paintings.  The artists’ real family was part of the exhibition as well.  They assisted with the installation of the exhibition, and a series of small textiles on the second floor was created by the brothers’ mother especially for Miss You.

Installation view of Miss You at Prism Gallery. Photo: Kyle Raymond Fitzpatrick

During the tour, Deitch discussed tensions inherent to exhibiting street art in a museum or gallery setting (a challenge he has faced many times, most recently in his Art in the Streets exhibition at MOCA). In most instances, museums represent street art with fragments or severely decontextualized recreations of original murals or graffiti works. For street artists, the entire urban environment is fair game, so the fragments often sit uncomfortably in the governed gallery environment. The success of Miss You lay in the complete control that Os Gemeos were given over the gallery space.

The next stop on my trip was Chris Burden’s Metropolis II, on view at the Broad Contemporary Art Museum at LACMA. The large kinetic sculpture is made up of approximately 1,200 miniature Hot Wheels cars that speed through a dense network of buildings at 240 scale miles per hour. Burden estimates that every hour, 100,000 cars pass through the city along the curving, tiered, multilane highways. The frenetic, noisy, crowded city is familiar (was I back in New York?) but not identifiable. It is a hybrid city with an Eiffel Tower lookalike, a mosque, a cathedral, and towers created with the Eames’ House of Cards—all connected by a network of monorail trains. As the museum neared closing time, huge crowds gravitated toward Burden’s work on their way out. The flashes of iPhones and digital cameras added to the delightful frenzy of the environment.

Visitors crowd around Chris Burden’s Metropolis II at LACMA

It was not until later, undistracted by the whirring of toy cars but conscious of the gridlock of real cars around me, that I wondered about the implications of Metropolis II. Is Burden’s a utopian or dystopian vision? Metropolis II is supremely regimented; the driverless cars never crash and the train is always on time. This particular future could not have felt more distant than during my trip to L.A., where my driver’s-license-less self depended on perpetually late buses and grumpy taxi drivers.

A number of young people who I encountered throughout my trip assured me that I didn’t need a car to get around L.A., calling my attention to the bike movement sweeping the city. Their enthusiastic idealism reminded me of the energy described by Danziger, Kappe, and Kavanaugh as characterizing the design community 50 years earlier. Is L.A. still the golden land of opportunity for young people in the arts? My friend and LA culture blogger Kyle explains, “The energy of the art world in Los Angeles is very untamed…it is limitless, endless, without judgment, and full of opportunity for creation and collaboration…the idea of the wild, wild West exists.” In a city known for its superficiality, I was taken aback by the openness of the art scene. There is room for experimentation and whimsy in the creation, presentation, and consumption of art in L.A., a quality that I find is all too distant in the New York art establishment.