Vital Signs

Artists and the Body

Member Previews, Oct 31–Nov 2, 2024

Nov 3, 2024–Feb 22, 2025

MoMA

Barbara Hammer. Still from Sync Touch. 1981. 16mm film transferred to video (color, sound), 10:07 min. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase. © 2024 The Estate of Barbara Hammer, and Company, New York. Image courtesy of the Barbara Hammer Collection at the Academy Film Archive
  • MoMA, Floor 3, 3 East The Robert B. Menschel Galleries

“Behind this mask, another mask; I will never be done with removing all these faces,” wrote artist and poet Claude Cahun in 1930. Throughout the 20th century, artists have imagined the body and ideas of the self as fluid and open to ongoing transformations. Vital Signs includes over 100 works by artists who question what it means to be an individual within a larger society—and how socially sustained categories such as gender, race, and sexual identity are rooted in abstraction.

Much of the work in Vital Signs was made by women or gender-expansive artists. The exhibition suggests fresh perspectives on celebrated works from MoMA’s collection by artists such as Frida Kahlo, Ana Mendieta, Louise Bourgeois, and Senga Nengudi, as well as works on view at the Museum for the first time by artists including Belkis Ayón, Ted Joans, and Rosemary Mayer. Some artists explore how we project, distort, and create identities through acts of play, empathy, or control. Others focus on the body’s interior—both real and imagined—or look to the world outside, forming newly imagined combinations of the human and the non-human. Full of life, Vital Signs illuminates some of the ways that artists reflect on abstraction in its broadest social senses while expanding ideas around what it means to be alive and to connect with others.

Organized by Lanka Tattersall, Laurenz Foundation Curator, with Margarita Lizcano Hernandez, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints. With thanks to Simon Ghebreyesus, Studio Museum in Harlem and MoMA Joint Curatorial Fellow.

Major support for the exhibition is provided by The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art.

Additional funding is provided by the Annual Exhibition Fund. Leadership contributions to the Annual Exhibition Fund, in support of the Museum’s collection and collection exhibitions, are generously provided by the Sandra and Tony Tamer Exhibition Fund, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Jerry I. Speyer and Katherine G. Farley, Eva and Glenn Dubin, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, Kenneth C. Griffin, Alice and Tom Tisch, the Marella and Giovanni Agnelli Fund for Exhibitions, Mimi Haas, The David Rockefeller Council, The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz, Kathy and Richard S. Fuld, Jr., The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, and The Young Patrons Council of The Museum of Modern Art. Major contributions to the Annual Exhibition Fund are provided by The Sundheim Family Foundation.

Major support for the publication is provided by The Museum of Modern Art’s Research and Scholarly Publications endowment established through the generosity of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Edward John Noble Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Perry R. Bass, and the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Challenge Grant Program. Additional funding is provided by the Contemporary Drawing and Print Associates.

The Bloomberg Connects digital experience is made possible through the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].