One of the strongest memories I have of my student days at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago are the long nights of study alongside a coffeepot and the tome Art Through the Ages by Helen Gardner. My goal was to memorize practically every caption of the 2,000 or so images in that book,
Posts by Pablo Helguera
You may see a bearded man in an impeccable, salmon-colored suit sitting at the information desk of the Museum—you can ask him anything about the meaning of poetry.
Every work at a museum may compel a viewer to wonder how it was made or where it came from. However, there are some works whose genesis provokes a special degree of collective fascination. Gabriel Orozco’s Mobile Matrix, currently on view in MoMA’s Gabriel Orozco exhibition, is one such work.
The exhibition Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity finally comes to an end next week. As a final event of the various public programs we have offered in conjunction with the exhibition, we will present a symposium this Friday, January 22, entitled Before and After 1933: The International Legacy of the Bauhaus. The event will bring together a vast array of international scholars to talk about the remarkable diaspora of Bauhaus intellectuals that, following the school’s closing in 1933, spread throughout various parts of Europe, the Americas, and even Africa, contributing to the establishment of a modern design style and branching out into various pedagogical models and practices that to this day lie at the core of the curricula of art and design schools worldwide.
Here at MoMA—both among staff members and those who came to the related public programs and workshops—we are also left with plenty of food for thought regarding the enduring legacy of that famous school.
A museum’s public programming schedule is perhaps its most fleeting offering. Almost as soon as you hear about it, it’s already gone. Lectures, symposia, and panel discussions come and go with marathon-like speed. In the Adult and Academic Programs area of the Education Department, we are often thinking six months ahead, which also means that current programs exist psychologically for us in the past, while past programs are deep in the background of ancient history. But it is important to always remember the remarkable individuals that came throughout the year to enliven the Museum with their perspectives and debates, sometimes making history.
Bauhaus Lab has been a new experiment for us at MoMA: we sought to create a space where various audiences could both get a sense of the original curricula of the famed school, and participate in events and activities that carried the Bauhaus spirit into the twenty-first century. The planning of the Bauhaus Lab was an extensive process that involved several months of research, planning, and experimentation, and represented a true collaborative effort amongst the Education Department staff. In this video, my colleagues Amy Horschak and Laura Beiles discuss some of the thinking behind the activities we developed and tell a few behind-the scenes anecdotes about the project.
In planning the programs for MoMA’s Bauhaus Lab, we wanted to give the public the opportunity not only to experience original Bauhaus curricula, but also to meet contemporary artists with multidisciplinary practices in an experimental spirit similar to the Bauhaus. The L.A.-based collective Machine Project most definitely falls into this category. (Machine’s approach to pedagogy as performance was previously presented this year at MoMA during the symposium Transpedagogy: Contemporary Art and the Vehicles of Education.)
In MoMA’s Cullman Education and Research Building, you’ll find visitors sitting at clover-like Bauhaus tables (based on the original workshop photographs) working on drawing exercises devised by Bauhaus masters Johannes Itten and Paul Klee. Interestingly, Klee and Itten themselves were actually not so happy sharing a table—the dinner table, that is.
Matching the artwork with the living room couch is one of the perennial concerns of any collector. But when it comes to the Bauhaus, which was as much about designing couches as it was about artworks, finding the right furniture piece shouldn’t be a problem. Or so it seemed to us at the Education Department. During the exhibition Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity, we imagined turning the reading room space in MoMA’s Cullman building into a Bauhaus Lounge, equipped with Bauhaus furniture for visitors to relax on while they watch a video of a reconstruction of Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet or browse through Bauhaus literature. We thought we had enough original Bauhaus-designed chairs lying around MoMA’s buildings that it couldn’t be too hard to put such a lounge together. We do have a Wassily chair (no one remembers where it came from) that sits in the Education offices; we also snatched away a few other chairs from a conference room and two Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs from outside of Glenn Lowry’s office waiting area (his office wants them back after the show).
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