When friends went off on a summer vacation adventure and I heard myself request that they be sure to post some pictures on Instagram, I wondered what happened to “send postcards?” It really was not so very long ago when I could open my mailbox (my letter box) and regularly find a picture postcard from someone gone halfway around the world—or even just across town—with a handwritten personal note or a “having a wonderful time wish you were here,” or some artist post cards with wonderful, artfully collaged imagery from a mail art–artist friend. Now, it’s a rarity.
Posts tagged ‘Bauhaus’
One of the perks of having an exhibition on view is the excuse to go into the Museum’s galleries every day (one of my curatorial responsibilities is to regularly check on my exhibitions). After poring over the 700+ works in the Tim Burton gallery exhibition, I often make it a point to visit other shows (to bring my mind out of the Burton zone, as I call it), whether to take in my favorite painting (Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie, by the way) or to check out a new special exhibition.
My last blog post pondered whether a museum could be a place to foster your own creativity rather than simply appreciating that of the “masters.”
In her book Museum Legs: Fatigue and Hope in the Face of Art, Amy Whitaker makes the case that “teaching people to make art can also be politically disruptive because it teaches people to have their own opinion, giving them a say.”
Marcel Duchamp was definitive on the point of viewers having a say: ”All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.”
Duchamp’s view defies traditional assumptions about art and viewers, often considered the art museum “dance”—the museum leads, the viewer follows.
Often people think they need extensive amounts of information from experts to fully appreciate art, but all that’s really needed is the confidence and opportunity to share your thoughts and opinions, and perhaps a bit of context as a framework—a kind of a personal trainer to help guide the way, but not do the “creative work” of interpretation.
After nearly a month of visiting the Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity exhibition, many of us throughout the Museum took away at least one powerful message: don’t be afraid to cross disciplines. The fearlessness, enthusiasm, and collaboration of the students and masters is apparent in the show’s work.
So, upon learning that design education legend and DIY hero Ellen Lupton would be running several workshops in the Bauhaus Lab series, our Graphic Design department decided not to make a poster for her visit, but rather to shoot and edit a video. Of course, stepping out of your area of expertise requires collaboration, so we teamed up with two of the Museum’s video experts: Beth Harris, Director of Digital Learning, and David Hart, Associate Media Producer. It was a humbling and exciting experience.
We recently paid a visit to MoMA’s Bauhaus Lab as one of the free art-making workshops was concluding. There, we met two stragglers, Jeff and Sarah, who spoke to us as they continued tinkering with their creative constructions. Two young artists, they were exploring form, texture, color and improvisation in this workshop based on the practices of Paul Klee and Johannes Itten.
What brings you to this workshop today?
Jeff: Well, we’re actually artists. We’re part of a collective called Hit Factorie. There’s about twenty of us working collaboratively in Brooklyn. They [the Bauhaus artists] were masters of collaboration, and we wanted to learn from that. We’re really interested in these ideas of collectivism and immediacy.
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.
I think it’s a really vital moment for photography right now. Over the past few years, a number of artists have re-opened the discussion on the nature of photography, investigating the materials and processes of the medium itself. Of course, this recent examination is part of a long lineage of experimentation in photography, seen in the work of artistic giants such as László Moholy-Nagy (included in MoMA’s current Bauhaus exhibition) as well as in more recent experimentation by artists such as James Welling. Walead Beshty is active in many of these discussions, as both a writer on the subject and an artist addressing the basic processes of photography.
Though the contributors from our department (Digital Media) might occasionally indulge in geek speak, we wanted to offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into some of the projects and collaborations in which we are involved across the Museum and beyond.
We are particularly excited about the slew of exhibitions coming up, starting with Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity, which opens this month. For the exhibition site, we worked with Hello Design in California. We hadn’t worked with them before, but we liked their approach to content and design for the subject matter. Because the Bauhaus has been such an inspiration to so many who came after, we asked Hello what inspired them. How did they create a simple, functional site that captures the spirit of the Bauhaus?
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).
In December 1938, hordes of visitors packed the opening of MoMA’s Bauhaus retrospective in the temporary galleries at 14 West Forty-ninth Street in Rockefeller Center. Guests followed painted footprints and abstract graphics on the floor guiding them through the show’s seven hundred items, while reading titles rendered in handsome pin-mounted condensed letterforms. The Bauhaus’s own graphic design and typography legend, Herbert Bayer came to New York to design the exhibition himself. And today, over seventy years later, it was both the Bauhaus and Bayer’s legacy that kept most of MoMA’s Department of Graphic Design awake at night, as we began to design the title wall for Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity.
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