The addition of a major work to the collection is always an exciting event at MoMA. Bernd and Hilla Becher’s nine-part photographic work Winding Towers (1966–97) is one such highlight among recent acquisitions in the Department of Photography.
Posts tagged ‘Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography’
Sometimes, after I encounter a great work of art, I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. And that’s a good thing—the work touches and evokes something deep inside that lingers for months, even years. I had this experience when I first saw Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, a 45-minute slide show of some 700 color pictures set to a soundtrack.
I met with VALIE EXPORT about three months ago at MoMA when she came to New York to preview her friend Marina Abramović’s exhibition. It was a sunny morning in March, and we sat down outside the staff cafe sipping glasses of grapefruit juice and talking about her signature work, Action Pants: Genital Panic.
In each gallery of the recently opened Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography, you will encounter a wall of photographs (sometimes two) with only pictures of women. This is not because women focused their cameras primarily on their female peers—there are plenty of exceptional landscapes and photographs of other subjects in the Museum’s collection, and a select smattering of these are now on view—but rather because I, along with my colleagues and co-curators Eva Respini and Roxana Marcoci, were fascinated by how these groups of pictures of women and by women suggest, in their diversity, the plasticity of both photography and female identity.
During recent months, Fluxus has begun making waves in MoMA galleries. This past October, Fluxus Preview opened on the fourth floor and continues to provide a sampling of the diverse activities carried out by artists engaged with a rebellious approach in the 1960s and 1970s. Most recently, true to Fluxus’s irreverent sensibility, derrières—hundreds of female asses—have taken over a space on the third floor of the Museum. The work is Yoko Ono and George Maciunas’s Fluxus Wallpaper, which repeats black-and-white close-ups of a human behind from floor to ceiling.
A still from Ono’s Film Number 4 (Bottoms), this wallpapered image is of one of the (allegedly) 365 individuals who walked for the artist’s camera in London during the early 1960s. As Ono once described Film Number 4, it is “like an aimless petition signed by people with their anuses”—a collective mooning in support of the absurd. Maciunas took one of these signature back ends, possibly Ono’s own, and printed it in fashion that enabled the provocation to occupy any receptive surface.
The wallpaper is part of The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift, acquired in 2008. It is currently on display in conjunction with the exhibition Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography.
There are no installation views of the Projects exhibition in which Helen Levitt first presented her color photographs to MoMA’s public, for one simple reason: all forty pictures were projected onto the wall, fading as quickly as they appeared. The year was 1974, and Levitt was in the midst of a creative outburst—unusual not only because she was at an age when most people contemplate retirement, but also because until 1959 her career had developed entirely in shades of gray. I love these black-and-white images, and put up a whole wall of them in 2006-07, including the first photograph by Levitt ever acquired by MoMA, New York, way back in 1941.
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