The Artist’s Choice series began in 1989, when the artist Scott Burton was invited to organize an exhibition of works drawn entirely from the Museum’s collection. Subsequently, John Baldessari, Chuck Close, Mona Hatoum, Ellsworth Kelly, and Elizabeth Murray have also made Artist’s Choice selections. When, in 2005, MoMA asked the composer, lyricist, and screenwriter Stephen Sondheim to prepare an exhibition, Sondheim decided to make his choices strictly from MoMA’s film archives. He selected 15 feature-length films, nine of which are shown this month. Sondheim writes, “These are just a few of my favorite movies. I wanted to restrict the list to films that many movie buffs might not know, but The Museum of Modern Art doesn’t own a lot of them (for example, [Lucian] Pintilie’s The Oak, [Vyacheslav] Krishtofovich’s Adam’s Rib, [Nikita] Mikhalkov’s Slave of Love, [Robert] Bresson’s Au hasard balthazar). As a result, there are some overly familiar titles on the list. The Museum asked me to include a sentence or two explaining each choice. I hope my reasons don’t sound too much like the pompous pitches that often constitute the program notes at film festivals.”
Organized by Laurence Kardish, Senior Curator, Department of Film and Media.