It’s a dream job: my role in marketing and communications at MoMA is to get the public excited by telling stories about our exhibitions and programs. It’s also a fast-moving and fluid media environment; we need to constantly experiment with new ways of telling those stories, and test new channels for connecting with an audience that has many options for enjoying art and culture.
On Tuesday, January 13, a new MoMA project will launch using a classic analog communication channel: the movie theater. Cinemas across the country will debut the feature documentary Matisse from MoMA and Tate Modern, a 90-minute film that tells the behind-the-scenes story of the landmark exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, which is currently drawing critical raves—and thousands of daily visitors—to MoMA, after a successful run at Tate Modern in London.
The film, directed by Phil Grabsky, features interviews with MoMA Director Glenn Lowry, Tate Director Nicholas Serota, and exhibition organizers including MoMA’s ace curatorial team of Jodi Hauptman, Karl Buchberg, and Samantha Friedman. A segment on the conservation of The Swimming Pool, Matisse’s room-size cut-out, shows it newly restored and on view for the first time in 20 years, along with specially commissioned performances of dance and jazz. If you’ve ever wondered how curators make decisions, or what a paper conservator really does, or how Matisse was able to create such magic with paper, gouache, and scissors, here is your moment to find out on the big screen!
How will a national cinema audience respond to a story about a museum experience in New York? We are so curious to find out. After years of experimentation with digital reproductions of art online, we know nothing will replace the physical sensation of looking closely at a work of art in person. This film provides access for those who can’t make the trip to our galleries before the exhibition closes on February 10, and for those who do, it’s a chance to go deeper and find out why we continue to find Matisse’s work so inspiring. For me personally, since two of my favorite places in the world are museum galleries and movie theaters, it’s a double dose of pleasure. So pass the popcorn and enjoy the show.
Matisse from MoMA and Tate Modern, part of the Exhibition on Screen series of art documentaries produced by Seventh Art Productions, is possible thanks to a collaboration with Tate Modern, distributors Arts Alliance, and Fathom Events.