Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented



Curator, Jodi Hauptman: I like to think of it that the earth is literally shaking below our feet because of wars and revolution and these enormous changes in industry and technology.

Professor, Stephen Kotkin: And so should workers make art? Should workers be the subject of the art? Should the medium be different?

Curator, Ellen Lupton: Art could now be out on the street; in magazines; art was on posters; on the walls of a factory.

Curator, Juliet Kinchin: Being an active agent in the creation of new ways of living and working and being

Jodi Hauptman: I'm Jodi Hauptman, Senior Curator in the Department of Drawings and Prints at the Museum of Modern Art. And I'm happy to welcome you to this exhibition. There are two things that you should remember as you wander through the exhibition. The first is that this is a moment of enormous political, social, and economic change—World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In addition, there's expansion of the press and expansion of printed photographic images. So in the wake of all of that, artists began to ask this very simple question: what does it mean to be an artist? How do you make work that's relevant?

And what I think you'll notice right from the beginning is that the way these artists answer that question—what does it mean to be an artist—is that they leave their studio, the privacy of that space, and move out into the street to address a mass audience, to reach as many people as possible, to make work that has a more public dimension.

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