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September 23, 2014  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions, Publications
Toulouse-Lautrec’s Portraits of Paris: “I don’t detail you. I totalize you!”

Cover of the publication The Paris of Youlouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters from The Museum of Modern Art, published by The Museum of Modern Art

Cover of the publication The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters from The Museum of Modern Art, published by The Museum of Modern Art

“The Moulin Rouge hired the most famous dancers to perform the quadrille naturaliste (cancan), which delighted spectators with its swish of petticoats and flashing flesh as legs flew high—knickers optional,” writes Sarah Suzuki, Associate Curator in the Department of Drawings and Prints, in The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters from The Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition catalogue brilliantly chronicles the short life and career of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and the Parisian fin-de-siècle world he depicted. Suzuki creates a vivid portrait of the various elements of Lautrec’s life: the world of cafés, nightclubs, and the theater; women of the upper and lower classes; artists and writers; the culture of belle époque Paris. The catalogue accompanies the exhibition The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters, which features, almost exclusively, work from MoMA’s collection.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Miss Eglantine's Troupe (La Troupe de Mademoiselle Eglantine). 1896. Lithograph. Sheet: 24 1/4 x 31 1/4" (61.6 x 79.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Miss Eglantine’s Troupe (La Troupe de Mademoiselle Eglantine). 1896. Lithograph. Sheet: 24 1/4 x 31 1/4″ (61.6 x 79.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller

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.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Aristide Bruant in his Cabaret (Aristide Bruant dans son cabaret). 1893. Lithograph. Sheet: 53 3/4 x 37 15/16" (136 x 96.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Emilio Sanchez

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Aristide Bruant in his Cabaret (Aristide Bruant dans son cabaret). 1893. Lithograph, sheet: 53 3/4 x 37 15/16″ (136 x 96.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Emilio Sanchez

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Seated Clowness (Mademoiselle Cha-u-ka-o) (La Clownesse assise) from Elles. 1896. Sheet: 20 7/8 × 15 13/16" (53 × 40.2 cm).  One from a portfolio of twelve lithographs. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Seated Clowness (Mademoiselle Cha-u-ka-o) (La Clownesse assise) from Elles. 1896. One from a portfolio of twelve lithographs, sheet: 20 7/8 × 15 13/16″ (53 × 40.2 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller

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.

Don’t miss the exhibition, on view at MoMA now through March 22, 2015. To learn more about Toulouse-Lautrec, download a free preview of the catalogue, or visit MoMAStore.org to purchase the book.

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The Art of Picasso as You’ve Never Seen It Before
Cover image of the e-book Picasso: The Making of Cubism 1912–1914, published by MoMA. All works by Pablo Picasso. ©  2014 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Cover image of the e-book Picasso: The Making of Cubism 1912–1914, published by MoMA.

MoMA recently launched its first digital-only publication, Picasso: The Making of Cubism 1912–1914, edited by Anne Umland and Blair Hartzell, with Scott Gerson. This immersive, interactive study features over 400 high-resolution images and the latest research on 15 groundbreaking Cubist works created by Picasso between 1912 and 1914, and is available as an iPad app through the App Store, or an interactive PDF through MoMAstore.org. Read more

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Sigmar Polke Der Illusionist
Cover of Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963-2010, published by the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Cover of Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963-2010, published by the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010 is the first comprehensive Sigmar Polke retrospective to cover the broad range of mediums he worked in from 1963 until his death in 2010. The accompanying catalogue is as comprehensive and diverse as the show, Read more

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December 6, 2013  |  Film, Publications
Lessons from The Berlin School
Cover of The Berlin School: Films from the Berliner Schule

Cover of The Berlin School: Films from the Berliner Schule

Beginning in the mid-1990s, a loose affiliation of filmmakers, graduates of the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin, began creating films that offered a new, aesthetically-driven form of cinema. Read more

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September 11, 2013  |  Publications
Considering One, Once More

If you’ve been following the Jackson Pollock Conservation Project on Inside/Out, you know that Jackson Pollock’s monumental painting One: Number 31, 1950 underwent some changes in our Department of Conservation this past spring after conservators discovered sections of overpaint on its surface, vestiges of a restoration campaign from the 1960s. You can follow the entire process here.

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Jackson Pollock. One: Number 31, 1950. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection Fund (by exchange). © 2013 Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Cover of the publication Pollock: One: Number 31, 1950, published by The Museum of Modern Art

The newest book in our One on One Series, Pollock: One: Number 31, 1950, also examines the history of this specific painting, but in an entirely different way. Author Charles Stuckey’s essay begins its investigation before the painting’s inception and follows it to the present day, considering its legacy and influence, which is visible in numerous contemporary artworks included in the book. In the late 1940s, Pollock began experimenting with a new method of painting, “drip painting” as it came to be known, where he would stand above a vast unframed piece of canvas and render kinetically: flinging, flicking, and, of course, dripping colors onto the canvas with various implements.

Pollock’s method eschewed the conventional notions of painting of the time, opting for raw, unstretched canvas and housepaint over prepared canvas and traditional oils, and darting around the floor of his barn studio rather than working quietly with a palette and easel. One: Number 31, 1950 is a masterful example of this signature style, a monumental work displaying Pollock’s energy and dexterity.

Did you know Jackson Pollock worked as a janitor at the Guggenheim Museum? Or that One: Number 31, 1950 was actually painted after Number 32, 1950 and before Number 30 (now called Autumn Rhythm) and Number 27, 1950?

Drawing from period magazine articles and quotes by Pollock, Lee Krasner, critics, and friends, Stuckey offers a narrative trajectory for the famed painting, following One: Number 31, 1950 from its premiere exhibition, to a stint in an apartment on Central Park West, to its final place in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art.

For more of Stuckey’s essay, download a preview of Pollock: One: Number 31, 1950 from our website.

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Introducing Young Frank, Architect
Cover of <i>Young Frank, Architect</i>

Cover of Young Frank, Architect, published by The Museum of Modern Art

Young Frank, Architect, MoMA’s first storybook for kids ages three to eight, follows the adventures of Young Frank, a resourceful young architect who lives in New York City with his grandfather, Old Frank, who is also an architect. Young Frank sees creative possibilities everywhere, and likes to use anything he can get his hands on—macaroni, old boxes, spoons, and sometimes even his dog, Eddie—to creates things like chairs out of toilet paper rolls and twisting skyscrapers made up of his grandfather’s books. But Old Frank is skeptical; he doesn’t think that’s how REAL architects make things.

One day, donning matching bow ties, straw boater hats, and Le Corbusier-inspired glasses, they visit The Museum of Modern Art, where they see the work of renowned architects like Frank Gehry and Frank Lloyd Wright. And they learn that real architects do in fact create wiggly chairs, twisty towers, and even entire cities. Inspired by what they see, Young Frank and Old Frank return home to build structures of every shape and size: “tall ones, fat ones, round ones, and one made from chocolate chip cookies.”

Spread from <i>Young Frank, Architect</i>

Spread from Young Frank, Architect

Spread from <i>Young Frank, Architect</i>

Spread from Young Frank, Architect

Spread from <i>Young Frank, Architect</i>

Spread from Young Frank, Architect

Written by award-winning children’s author and illustrator Frank Viva, a frequent cover artist for The New Yorker whose previous books include Along A Long Road and A Long Way Away, Young Frank, Architect is an inspiration for budding architects as well as a lesson for those who think they’ve seen everything. With its rich color palette of grays, olives, ambers, and cream (it’s printed using nine colors instead of the usual four), it’s a great introduction to MoMA’s diverse architecture and design collection, which includes surprising objects like Arthur Young’s helicopter in addition to furniture and architectural models.

Young Frank, Architect is a MoMA Exclusive for the month of August, meaning it’s available only at the MoMA Stores now through its wide release in September. Snag a copy and spend the dog-days of August exploring architecture. What will it inspire you to build?

To see more of Young Frank’s adventure, check out our video book trailer below.

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June 26, 2013  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
Revisiting The Store by Claes Oldenburg
Left: Claes Oldenburg. The Store. 1961. Letterpress, composition: 26 9/16 x 20 5/16″ (67.4 x 51.6 cm); sheet: 28 1/4 x 22 1/16″ (71.8 x 56 cm). Mary Ellen Meehan Fund. © 2013 Claes Oldenburg; Right: Claes Oldenburg. Two Girls’ Dresses. 1961. Muslin soaked in plaster over wire frame, painted with enamel, 44 1/2 x 40 3/4 x 6” (113 x 103.5 x 15.2 cm). Private collection. © 1961 Claes Oldenburg. Photo: Gunter Lepkowski

Left: Claes Oldenburg. The Store. 1961. Letterpress, composition: 26 9/16 x 20 5/16″ (67.4 x 51.6 cm); sheet: 28 1/4 x 22 1/16″ (71.8 x 56 cm). Mary Ellen Meehan Fund. © 2013 Claes Oldenburg; Right: Claes Oldenburg. Two Girls’ Dresses. 1961. Muslin soaked in plaster over wire frame, painted with enamel, 44 1/2 x 40 3/4 x 6” (113 x 103.5 x 15.2 cm). Private collection. © 1961 Claes Oldenburg. Photo: Gunter Lepkowski

In 1961 Claes Oldenburg opened a store in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, five years after his official arrival in New York. For two months, Oldenburg hawked commonplace objects out of his storefront: ice cream, oranges, cigarettes, hats, shoes, all things that could be found in surrounding stores, but here, they were specially crafted and singular, specific to the artist and his studio-cum-store. In Claes Oldenburg: Writing on the Side 1956–1969, Oldenburg describes his project neatly:

“The Store, or My Store, or the Ray Gun Mfg. Co., located at 107 East 2nd St., NYC, is eighty feet long and is about ten feet wide. In the front half, it is my intention to create the environment of a store by painting and placing (hanging, projecting, lying) objects after the spirit and in the form of popular objects of merchandise, such as may be seen in store windows of the city, especially in the area where The Store is (Clinton St., for example, Delancey St., 14th St.).

This store will be constantly supplied with new objects, which I will create out of plaster and other materials in the rear half of the place. The objects will be for sale in The Store.
—Claes Oldenburg (1961)

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Cover of Claes Oldenburg: Writing on the Side 1956–1969, published by The Museum of Modern Art

The excerpt included above is just one of a variety of collected written works in Writing on the Side, the first compilation dedicated to Oldenburg’s writings. Organized chronologically, the book contains diary entries, poems, notes, statements, and sketches, grouped by chapter with titles like: “Fear of New York 1956–1958,” and “Object Consciousness 1965–1967.” The book serves as a written history of Oldenburg’s artistic presence in the 1960s, much of it composed on a typewriter kept in his studio.

Diary entries and notes preceding the opening of The Store evidence Oldenburg’s investment in the seemingly unexceptional: Oldenburg documents every sandwich, coffee, and beer consumed, the names of cafés and restaurants frequented (many of which no longer seem to exist, upon cursory Google searches) with as much care taken to describe creative ideation and art events. In this way, the writings are an important companion to Oldenburg’s body of work, giving insight into this formative period in his career as well as a unique view into a New York that no longer seems to exist (check out what Oldenburg’s store looks like now).

Oldenburg will perform a reading from Writing on the Side at MoMA at 6:00 p.m. on June 28, followed by a reception and book signing. More information about the event can be found here.

Claes Oldenburg: The Street and The Store is on view through August 5 on the sixth floor in the International Council of The Museum of Modern Art Exhibition Gallery.

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June 19, 2013  |  Collection & Exhibitions, Publications
“Corbusian Atlas” Takes Readers in a New Direction
Cover of Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes published by The Museum of Modern Art

Cover of Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes published by The Museum of Modern Art

As the leader of the International Style, the Swiss-born, Paris-based architect Le Corbusier had the rare opportunity to build on three continents at a time when airplanes were still a new method of transportation. Read more

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June 12, 2013  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
Ell Shapes for Ellsworth Kelly
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Cover of the exhibition catalogue Ellsworth Kelly: Chatham Series, published by The Museum of Modern Art

The iconic American artist Ellsworth Kelly celebrated his 90 birthday on May 31, and in his honor, MoMA has reunited the 14 ell-shaped paintings of his seminal Chatham Series for the first time since they were originally exhibited in 1972.

Though it is whimsical to think that the ell-shaped canvases were chosen as an ode to ELLsworth kELLy’s big day, the paintings are considered to be among Kelly’s greatest contributions to abstract art. Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture Ann Temkin details the fascinating story behind the series in MoMA’s new book, Ellsworth Kelly: Chatham Series.

In 1970, Kelly decided to leave New York City, where he had been living and working since the 1950s, for a more rural environment. After a period of exploratory road trips, he settled in Spencertown, two hours north of Manhattan, and established a studio in the nearby town of Chatham. This newfound location proved to be an important influence in Kelly’s artistic development, serving as an inspiration for his work.

Kelly’s studio in Chatham was in a 19th-century brick building featuring nearly 12-foot-tall windows along its upper floor. After spying the striking windows from the sidewalk while exploring the town, Kelly entered the barber shop on the ground floor of the building to inquire about the space and learned that, after stints as an opera house, banquet hall, roller rink, and more, it was functioning as a storage space, holding the town’s Christmas lights. The barber and a neighboring shopkeeper co-owned the space, and they agreed to rent it out to Kelly for $50 a month. The space was far more spacious than any studio Kelly has previous occupied, and the isolated location allowed him to explore his ideas without external influence.

Ellsworth Kelly outside his studio, 13 Main Street, Chatham, 1970

Ellsworth Kelly outside his studio, 13 Main Street, Chatham, 1970

After a year of transforming and customizing the space for his needs, Kelly began work on the first series he would produce there in 1971. Each of the 14 large-scale paintings in the Chatham series are made of two monochromatic canvases that are joined together at a right angle, yet no two are the same, allowing the artist to experiment with color and proportion. Temkins’s essay provides an in-depth exploration of the various aspects of this iconic series, including scale, process, and the reception the Chatham Series received when it was first exhibited to the public at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, in 1972.

Ellsworth Kelly’s studio, Chatham, New York, 1972

Ellsworth Kelly’s studio, Chatham, New York, 1972

The paintings now belong to 14 different collections, but Ellsworth Kelly: Chatham Series brings them back together for the first time since their debut so museumgoers and readers alike can explore one of Kelly’s most significant achievements in its entirety. For more on the series, download a free PDF sample of the exhibition catalogue for an excerpt from the essay. The book also features as essay by the director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery that accompanied the first exhibition of the series, vibrant reproductions of each of the 14 paintings, additional illustrations including vintage photographs of Kelly’s studio, and much more.

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Oldenburg’s Burgers: Delicious at All Ages
Cover of What is Contemporary Art? A Guide for Kids by Jacky Klien and Suzy Klein, published by The Museum of Modern Art

Cover of What is Contemporary Art? A Guide for Kids by Jacky Klein and Suzy Klein, published by The Museum of Modern Art

MoMA’s current exhibition, Claes Oldenburg: The Street and The Store, celebrates the early years of artist Claes Oldenburg’s extraordinary career, when he experimented with painting and sculpture by reworking the stuff of every day into larger than life objects made with unexpected materials. Read more