MoMA Year in Review 2016–17

Year in Review 2016–17

Celebrating creativity and conversation

See our stories

In Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction, we celebrated the achievements of women artists between the end of World War II and the start of the Feminist movement.

This show is not a beginning or end, it’s one event in an ongoing process of looking at women artists and amplifying how they are represented here at MoMA. Every single curator in the Museum is involved in this effort.

Sarah Meister, Curator, Department of Photography, and
Starr Figura, Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints

The first major retrospective of Francis Picabia in the US in nearly 50 years explored the work of an audacious and irreverent artist who never stopped questioning the meaning and purpose of art.

He doesn’t fit a conventional mold, and he allows, I think, you to narrate an alternative history of what modern art could be…one that’s more open ended, that allows for abstraction or figuration or publishing or poetry or Conceptual art.

Anne Umland
The Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Curator of Painting and Sculpture

The celebrated choreographer Jérôme Bel brought together staff members to form the MoMA Dance Company for a series of performances in the Marron Atrium.

Acts of making have their place… When that is the Marron Atrium, something extraordinary happens. Not only did exceptional individuals come together, but the institution, its multitude of histories, were brought to us. Even if we occupied that unmatched space momentarily (yet out of breath with sore ankles), working with Jérôme Bel, Ana, Martha, Lizzie and Team allowed us to embody the ideals and promise that has guided the Museum since its inception.

Sean Anderson
Associate Curator and MoMA Dance Company member

Most of us have been at MoMA for quite some time, but have not had the chance to interact with each other. Through rehearsals and performances, in a short but intense period of time, a bond was created—as if we all knew we were part of something special. I relive those moments anytime I come across my fellow performers.

Francis Estrada
Assistant Educator and MoMA Dance Company member

Amateur dance isn't as easy as it looks!

Thomas Lax
Associate Curator and MoMA Dance Company member

Before MoMA Dance Company, I would never have dreamed of a scenario in which doing the splits in front of an audience at MoMA did not end with me being escorted off the premises! Working with Jérôme Bel was an incredible opportunity, and making connections with my colleagues across the Museum has enriched my time as a MoMA employee.

Grace Robinson
Development Assistant and MoMA Dance Company member

It was a delight, amplified by the presence of my colleagues, to dance in the grand space of the Museum's Marron Atrium. Jérôme Bel's generous and unconventional piece gave me freedom to express joy through movement and music, enabling me to connect in new ways with my fellow dancers, co-workers, and the Museum's visitors.

Diana Pan
Chief Technology Officer and MoMA Dance Company member

It has been a beautiful transformative experience. Some of us have said that feels like being part of a secret society. Dance is now a language that we communicate with. I have run into a couple of "members of the company" in the staff caff or the elevator and instead of saying hello, we just start to dance and then we greet each other.

Leticia Gutierrez
Associate Educator and MoMA Dance Company member

Each year, MoMA's Access Programs serve over 10,000 New Yorkers with disabilities, and include partnerships with community organizations such as LAND Gallery and Studio, a day habilitation program for adult artists with developmental disabilities.

Some of our artists had never been to a museum before we began this partnership and now they feel at home here. It's because the MoMA educators treat our artists with the respect they deserve and challenge them to explore new ideas.

Matthew Bede Murphy
Co-Founder, LAND Gallery and Studio

Ian Cheng’s Emissary trilogy of live simulations, a major recent addition to MoMA’s collection, immersed MoMA PS1 visitors in a video game that plays itself.

In Ian Cheng's live simulation works, storytelling, gaming, cognitive psychology, digital animation, moving images, and performance coalesce to create infinitely generating scenarios that are independent of the artist himself. These artworks are entirely responsive, from the gallery to the computer desktop to the intimacy of our personal device screens, resulting in an exhibition that doesn't just live in the museum, but lives in its circulation.

Jocelyn Miller
Curatorial Associate, MoMA PS1

Noticing dusty corners of the Museum was just the beginning of Nina Katchadourian’s investigative audio project on our MoMA Audio app.

Dust Gathering was a milestone project for me. MoMA's education department showed an openness to my process and thinking that was exceptionally important, and my project was allowed to find its way. MoMA is full of so many people committed to preserving and protecting the art and I hope that visitors learned not only about dust, but about who works in the Museum and how well they do their jobs.

Nina Katchadourian

Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends presented the artist’s wide-ranging career and collaborations with artists, dancers, and musicians. Charles Atlas worked with the curatorial and design teams on the exhibition’s design.

To me the work doesn’t seem old, it’s an example that you can make work that lives on. And just the whole process has been really interesting of making an exhibition and seeing how an exhibition is made and all the care that goes into it. It’s been life-changing for me.

Charles Atlas
artist and filmmaker

A major retrospective screened all of Pedro Almodóvar’s exuberant films from his three-decades-long career.

It’s not only a privilege, it’s a dream for an old director of my age, just to think that the young audience, the young generation of spectators, can see all my movies on a bigger screen in the place and on the surface that they were born. This is possible because of this retrospective.

Pedro Almodóvar

Launched in September 2016, our Exhibition History provides a comprehensive digital record of over 3,500 gallery exhibitions from the Museum’s founding in 1929 to today.

Putting the entire MoMA Exhibition History online was like a dream come true for me. After 20 years of caring for the unique documents that chronicle MoMA’s innovative exhibitions, it was thrilling to make them accessible for all the world to share in. And indeed they have done so, resulting in discoveries and revealing new trends in research and scholarship!

Michelle Elligott
Chief of Archives, Library, and Research Collections

Scholarship and conservation brought new perspectives to an exhibition celebrating the 150th anniversary of visionary architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth.

The primary goal of this conservation campaign was to make Wright’s vision more clear to audiences today and in the future, but the restoration is also designed to be revisited, and reversed if desired, by future generations who may have a different interpretation of this model.

Ellen Moody
‎Assistant Projects Conservator

For Quiet Mornings, we opened early once a month for visitors to experience the Museum at its most peaceful—without the crowds and with free guided meditation sessions.

It’s a great opportunity to see art and practice meditation in a group before the busy day begins, so one can absorb and experience both and be elevated and feel connected in this busy city.

Quiet Mornings participant

For our #ArtSpeaks series, colleagues across the Museum share works on display that have special meaning for them and speak about how art makes a difference in the world.

I loved the talk about Monet’s Water Lilies by the two security guards. One of them spoke meaningfully about how the painting evoked emotion and memory and had the ability to touch his spirit and bring peace. The other’s talk showed how much he had learned about the artwork and artist over his 30 years and was a powerful demonstration of an adult learning something for himself that brings him joy and pleasure.

MoMA visitor

In June we unveiled the full design of our building project and celebrated the completion of the first major phase, on the east end of the Museum.

This project has called on us to work across MoMA’s rich architectural history, incorporating the Museum’s existing building blocks into a comprehensible whole through careful and deliberate interventions into previous logics, as well as the construction of new logics that arise from MoMA’s current aspirations. This work has required the curiosity of an archeologist and the skill of a surgeon.

Elizabeth Diller
Founding Partner, Diller Scofidio + Renfro

As part of VW Sunday Sessions, Black Radical Imagination presented a screening program of short films by Jamilah Sabur, Suné Woods, Vashti Harrison, and Ephraim Asili.

Black Radical Imagination co-founders Amir George and Erin Christovale presented a diverse film program of challenging shorts that demonstrated the incredible range of programming the VW Dome can support: intimate conversation as well as larger-than-life formal screenings. The films all referenced surreal and Afro-futurist aesthetics, but were grounded with urgent and relatable sociopolitical themes. This audience was one of the most engaged I've seen in the dome; it was difficult to arrange chairs fast enough to seat the incoming crowds!

Taja Cheek
Curatorial Assistant, MoMA PS1

Accompanying Frank Lloyd Wright at 150, the People’s Studio invited visitors to explore architecture through themes connected to community, nature, and the integration of art and daily life.

It affirms that we all have valuable perceptions (like artists do) and that we can all express ourselves creatively…. People can build beautifully interesting and unique things alongside one another in a humanitarian and socially equal way. Utopia in action!

Fritz Donnelly, New York City

A major new performance commission, Alexandra Bachzetsis’s Massacre: Variations on a Theme, featured three dancers and music for two pianos and was inspired by Tarantism, classic Northern Soul dancing, and Surrealist imagery.

I don’t feel that I’m an activist performance artist. I think work is always political. Or the body is political—what you achieve through your body and through other bodies. But I don’t think it offers any straightforward solution. You can only hope that it makes some people think for themselves.

Alexandra Bachzetsis
artist, performer, and choreographer

MoMA’s PopRally hosted Petra Collins: In Search of Us—an evening of performance, music, and digital art conceived and developed by Collins with artist Madelyne Beckles—and featured Collins in its online interview series, Creative New York.

One thing I am constantly thinking about, as a photographer, is how the work is exhibited and how viewers relate. I love the idea of creating spaces and creating an experience … rather than just displaying photo work in a linear way.

Petra Collins

Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency was presented in its original 35mm format along with a selection of photographs and materials from the artist’s personal archive.

One of my first exhibitions in Berlin was Nan Goldin's at KW in 1992 in the former East Berlin. Goldin's work looked so different than the environment of the formerly socialist, partially abandoned cityscape. It looked like a premonition of what the future will bring. Twenty-five years later at MoMA, I was privileged to reinstall The Ballad on a much grander scale with my colleagues Rajendra Roy and Lucy Gallun. The Ballad has not lost its power to be about the past, the present, and the future at the same time. It didn't age a single minute.

Klaus Biesenbach
Director, MoMA PS1, and
Chief Curator at Large, The Museum of Modern Art

Helado Negro performed as part of the Summer Thursdays concert series in The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden.

The PopRally team came up with the idea of organizing our Summer Thursdays concert series to complement Crossing Borders: Immigration and American Culture, a digital exhibition of selected works in our collection by artists who immigrated to the US. The concerts were joyous, bringing together musicians with roots in Africa, Asia, South America, North America, and Europe, now living in the US. Their life journeys were expressed in music that blended sounds from home with those from here.

Leah Dickerman
Director of Editorial and Content Strategy

MoMA's Instagram, which has more than three million followers, was honored with a 2017 Webby Award for Culture & Lifestyle.

Amazing images and stories thank you for sharing @MuseumModernArt made my Tuesday, very inspiring.

Bravo MoMA!!! I am so proud to be a part of your artistic community!!!

Beautiful. Thank you for introducing me to amazing artists ✨❤✨

I love posts like this. I want to know more about the artists. More about the paintings

Wish I was in NYC right now why?? 😩

  • Geraldo de Barros. Diagonal Function. 1952

  • Jesús Rafael Soto. Displacement of a Luminous Element. 1954

  • Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt). Eight Squares. 1961

  • Judith Lauand. Concrete 61. 1957

  • Mira Schendel. Untitled from the series Graphic Objects (Objetos gráficos). 1967

  • Hélio Oiticica. Painting 9. 1959

  • Alejandro Otero. Pampatar Board. 1954

  • Lygia Pape. Untitled. 1956

  • Carlos Cruz-Diez. Project for an Exterior Wall. 1954–65

9 of 9

A major gift from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros will add more than 100 works of modern art by major artists from Latin America to our collection, and establish the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Research Institute for the Study of Art from Latin America.

We are profoundly grateful to Patty Cisneros, whose longstanding and unwavering dedication to art and artists from Latin America continues to transform and expand our understanding and appreciation of that region’s significant role in the history of modern and contemporary art.

Glenn D. Lowry

Agnès Varda and JR’s Visages, Villages (Faces, Places) (2017)

Agnès Varda and JR are artists separated by generations, joined by a profound sense of humanity. They approached MoMA about pre-acquiring their documentary celebrating the unseen rural communities in France, and we are thrilled to have helped bring their critically important (and beautifully rendered) vision to light. With Faces, Places we cement a relationship with Agnès, and launch one with JR.

Rajendra Roy
The Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film

Dayanita Singh’s Museum of Chance (2013)

Museum of Chance is arguably Dayanita Singh's magnum opus, and in some ways it could be seen as a survey of her career in one complex work, in that it includes individual pictures that refer back to older series. The work carries with it seemingly boundless possibilities in presentation, sequence, and storytelling, where the images can be sequenced and re-sequenced within two large, movable structures, or in the smaller display frames that can be hung on the wall. Bringing this contemporary artist's work into the collection was a priority for the Museum, and the acquisition of the stunning and complex Museum of Chance addressed this need.

Quentin Bajac
The Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz Chief Curator of Photography

László Moholy‑Nagy’s EM 1 (Telephone Picture) (1923) was reunited in the collection with EM 2 (Telephone Picture) (1923) and EM 3 (Telephone Picture) (1923).

Since 1970 The Museum of Modern Art has owned two of the three legendary "Telephone Pictures" that Moholy-Nagy made in 1922. Last year we finally were able to acquire EM 1, the companion to MoMA's EM 2 and EM 3. According to the artist, he used the telephone to give a commercial signmaker specifications for a composition to be painted three times, on three panels of different sizes. MoMA now can present the full story of Moholy's historic venture into "readymade" painting.

Ann Temkin
The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture

Dante Giacosa’s 500f city car for Fiat (designed 1957)

The Fiat 500 is an icon of automotive history that fundamentally altered car design and production in Italy. Adding this unpretentious masterpiece to our collection will allow us to broaden the story of automotive design as told by the Museum.

Martino Stierli
The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design

Ibrahim El‑Salahi’s Prison Notebook (1976)

Ibrahim El-Salahi is today recognized as a foundational figure of African and Arabic modernism. Prison Notebook exorcises the months of deprivation and abuse he endured while arbitrarily imprisoned in Sudan in 1975. Its pages are filled with verses of his poetry and delicate drawings of shackled figures, faces behind barred doors, self-portraits, prison architecture, birds, and mythological figures that suggest the hope of freedom or escape. This intensely personal work is both a major historical document and a masterpiece of drawing.

Christophe Cherix
The Robert Lehman Foundation Chief Curator of Drawings and Prints

Bruce Nauman’s Contrapposto Studies, i through vii (2015–16)

Bruce Nauman's magisterial installation Contrapposto Studies, i through vii is the artist's most ambitious video work to date. Reflecting on and elaborating his 1968 video Walk with Contrapposto, it distills a career noted for its innovation and experimentation into a frank and profound analysis of the body, aging, and technology.

Stuart Comer
Chief Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art

Thank you for a year of inspiration.

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Image credits

All works in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art and © 2017 The Museum of Modern Art, unless otherwise noted

  • Corporate Membership Open House. Shown: Claude Monet. Water Lilies. 1914–26. Oil on canvas. Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund. Photo: Scott Rudd

  • Corporate Membership Open House, installation view of the Painting and Sculpture Galleries. Photo: Scott Rudd

  • Family Programs tour, installation view of From the Collection: 1960–1969, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, March 26, 2016–March 19, 2017. Photo: Martin Seck

  • Mark Leckey. BigBoxPS1Action. 2016. Performed at MoMA PS1 as part of VW Sunday Sessions, October 23, 2016. © 2017 MoMA PS1, New York. Photo: Derek Schultz

  • Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker: Work/Travail/Arbeid, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, March 29–April 2, 2017. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

  • Louise Lawler: WHY PICTURES NOW, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, April 30–July 30, 2017. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

  • The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. Photo: Carly Gaebe

  • Installation view of Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, April 15–August 13, 2017. Photo: Iwan Baan

  • Francis Picabia | HOW TO SEE the artist with MoMA curator Anne Umland. Video (color, sound), 5:26 min. Produced by The Museum of Modern Art

  • Artist’s Choice: Jérôme Bel/MoMA Dance Company, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 27–31, 2016. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

  • Kenya Hanley at LAND Gallery and Studio. Photo: Carrie McGee

  • Ian Cheng. Emissary in the Squat of Gods. 2015. Simulation (color, sound), infinite duration. Fund for the Twenty-First Century. © Ian Cheng

  • Dust Gathering: An Audio+ Experience by Artist Nina Katchadourian, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 21–April 21, 2016. Photo: Nina Katchadourian

  • Robert Rauschenberg | HOW TO SEE the artist with Charles Atlas. Video (color, sound), 6:14 min. Produced by The Museum of Modern Art

  • Volver. 2006. Spain. Directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics

  • Exhibition installation images. © 2017 The Museum of Modern Archives

  • Frank Lloyd Wright: Conserving St. Mark’s Tower Model. Video (color, sound), 4:20 min. Produced by The Museum of Modern Art. Images courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York) and Douglas M. Steiner

  • Quiet Mornings. Photo: Rod Morata

  • ArtSpeaks: Tunji Adeniji, Director of Facilities and Safety, on Claude Monet's Water Lilies (1914–26), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, April 25, 2017

  • View of the restored Bauhaus staircase. Photo: Iwan Baan

  • View of The Marlene Hess and James D. Zirin Lounge. Photo: Iwan Baan

  • View of the second floor looking east with new Museum Store, espresso bar, and The Daniel and Jane Och Lounge. Photo: Iwan Baan

  • Installation view of Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, June 12–October 1, 2017. Photo: Iwan Baan

  • Black Radical Imagination, VW Sunday Sessions at MoMA PS1, Sunday, November 20, 2016. Photo: Derek Schultz

  • The People’s Studio: Design, Experiment, Build, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, June 12–October 1, 2017. Photo: Manuel Martagon

  • Alexandra Bachzetsis. Massacre: Variations on a Theme. 2016. Rehearsal image. © 2016 Alexandra Bachzetsis. Photo: Sotiris Vassiliou. Massacre: Variations on a Theme is commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and coproduced with Kaserne Basel and Theaterhaus Gessnerallee, Zürich.

  • PopRally Presents Petra Collins: In Search of Us, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, March 18, 2017. Photo: Alycia Kravitz

  • Installation view of Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, June 11, 2016–April 16, 2017. Photo: Martin Seck. Shown: Nan Goldin. Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City. 1983. © 2017 Nan Goldin

  • Helado Negro performing for Summer Thursdays at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, August 31, 2017

  • Screencast of @themuseumofmodernart Instagram feed

  • Geraldo de Barros. Diagonal Function. 1952. Lacquer on wood. Promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund. © 2017 Luciana Brito Galeria

  • Gego. Eight Squares. 1961. Welded and painted iron. Promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund in honor of Gustavo Rodriguez-Cisneros. © 2017 Fundación Gego

  • Judith Lauand. Concrete 61. 1957. Synthetic polymer paint on wood. Promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund in honor of Robert Menschel and Janet Wallach. © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/AUTVIS, Sao Paulo

  • Hélio Oiticica. Painting 9. 1959. Oil on canvas. Promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund in honor of Adriana Cisneros de Griffin. © 2017 Projeto Hélio Oiticica

  • Alejandro Otero. Pampatar Board. 1954. Lacquer on wood. Promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund in honor of Adriana Cisneros de Griffin and Nicholas Griffin. © 2017/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/AUTORARTE, Venezuela

  • Lygia Pape. Untitled. 1956. Acrylic on wood. Promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund in honor of Sharon Rockefeller. © 2017 Projeto Lygia Pape

  • Mira Schendel. Graphic Object. 1967. Transfertype, graphite, and ink on paper, and acrylic sheets.

  • Jesús Rafael Soto. Displacement of a Luminous Element. 1954. Vinyl dots on acrylic, tempera on board, and wood. Promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund in honor of Susana and Ricardo Steinbruch. © 2017/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

  • Carlos Cruz-Diez. Project for an External Wall. 1954–65. Painted dowels and synthetic polymer paint on wood. Promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund in honor of Carolina Rodriguez-Cisneros. © 2017 Carlos Cruz-Diez/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

  • Visages, Villages (Faces, Places). 2017. France. Directed by Agnés Varda and JR. Digital cinema (color, sound). Purchase from the Producers

  • Dayanita Singh. Museum of Chance. 2013. 162 pigmented inkjet prints and teak structures. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired with support from The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, The Modern Women's Fund, and Committee on Photography Fund. © 2017 Dayanita Singh. Courtesy of the Frith Street Gallery, London

  • László Moholy-Nagy. EM 1 (Telephone Picture). 1923. Porcelain enamel on steel. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase, and acquired through the generosity of Debra and Leon Black, Ronnie Heyman, Daniel and Jane Och, Kenneth C. Griffin, Marlene Hess and James D. Zirin, Michael S. Ovitz, Ronald O. Perelman, Jerry Speyer and Katherine Farley, Alice and Tom Tisch, Gary and Karen Winnick, and Anne Dias Griffin. © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

  • László Moholy-Nagy. EM 2 (Telephone Picture). 1923. Porcelain enamel on steel. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Philip Johnson in memory of Sibyl Moholy-Nagy. © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

  • László Moholy-Nagy. EM 3 (Telephone Picture). 1923. Porcelain enamel on steel. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Philip Johnson in memory of Sibyl Moholy-Nagy. © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

  • Dante Giacosa. 500f city car. Designed 1957 (this example 1968). Steel with fabric top. Manufacturer: Fiat S.p.A. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Heritage

  • Ibrahim El-Salahi. Prison Notebook. 1976. Notebook with 39 ink on paper drawings. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the generosity of Marlene Hess and James D. Zirin, Catie and Donald Marron, Alice and Tom Tisch (in honor of Christophe Cherix), Marnie Pillsbury and Committee on Drawings and Prints Fund. © 2017 Ibrahim El-Salahi/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London

  • Bruce Nauman. Contrapposto Studies, i through vii. 2015–16. Seven-channel video (color, sound). Continuous duration. Dimensions variable. Jointly owned by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquired in part through the generosity of Agnes Gund; and Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation, on permanent loan to Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel. © 2017 Bruce Nauman/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

  • Family Programs. Photo: Martin Seck