What Is Painting? Contemporary Art from the Collection


Introduction to the exhibition: What Is Painting?

Audio courtesy of Acoustiguide

ANNE UMLAND (CURATOR): Hello, I'm Anne Umland, a curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art. I'm very pleased to welcome you to this exhibition, What Is Painting? drawn from the Museum’s collection of contemporary art.

The exhibition’s title is taken from a work by John Baldessari made between 1966 and 1968, but with the addition of a question mark, acknowledging the ongoing debates over the practice of painting and its place within contemporary art. The works included here offer a varied series of responses to the question, What is painting?, ranging from sincere to ironic, from figurative to abstract, from artists who embrace and creatively re-imagine painting’s possibilities to those who critically engage with its conventions and traditional forms.

The exhibition includes works by some fifty artists, presented in loose chronological order, within a series of twelve open-ended galleries. As you walk from gallery to gallery, we hope you’ll consider the paintings individually and in relation to one another, looking for the visual connections and contrasts that speak to painting’s myriad possibilities in our present 21st century moment.

For detailed instructions on using this Acoustiguide, press 1-0-1 and the ‘play’ button at any time.

We hope you enjoy the show.

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