Allison Smith: American Pre-Modern, April 26, 2014, The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Erica Gannett. © 2016 The Museum of Modern Art, New York

How do colonial-era American craft and modernism go hand-in-hand? Both art movements were furthered by the Rockefeller family, who built Colonial Williamsburg from 1927 onward, and MoMA from 1929 onward. Both projects were concerned with a search for what is distinctively American. The recent MoMA exhibition American Modern: Hopper to O’Keeffe touched upon MoMA founding Director Alfred H. Barr’s interest in developing genealogical narratives for American art. He and others asked the essentialist question: Is there such a thing as a uniquely (North) American art? For Barr, the narrative of American art began with folk art. This two-day workshop looks at the period of 1790–1840, locating a pre-modern precedent for American art not in the representational, accessible folk art paintings that Barr favored, but in everyday things created by people who did not consider themselves artists or designers (but who perhaps should be by today’s standards). These artists also sought to stake out an American creative quality apart from that of Europe, but they did so through three-dimensional objects and all-encompassing domestic interiors: ceramics, textiles, furniture, floor coverings, lighting fixtures, and other forms of interior decoration. This course asks participants to consider even earlier forms of sculpture, installation, and social practice: American pre-modern.

Artists Experiment is an annual initiative in the Department of Education that brings together contemporary artists in dialogue with MoMA educators to conceptualize ideas for innovative and experimental public interactions.

The current Artists Experiment project, Emily Spivack's An archive of everything worn to MoMA from November 1, 2017, to January 28, 2018, will be on view in the Museum through January 28, 2018. The Department of Education is also collaborating with artist Michael Rakowitz on a forthcoming project.

The artists who participated in past years of Artists Experiment are:

2014 - 2016
Nina Katchadourian

Paul Ramirez Jonas
Allison Smith
The Office for Creative Research

Raúl Cárdenas Osuna
Kenneth Goldsmith
Xaviera Simmons
Caroline Woolard

  1. Sunday, April 27, 2014,
    12:304:30 p.m.

    Mezzanine, Education and Research Building
  2. Saturday, April 26, 2014,
    12:304:30 p.m.

    Mezzanine, Education and Research Building
This event accompanies American Modern: Hopper to O’Keeffe.
This event is part of Artists Experiment.