Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives (C-MAP) is a cross-departmental, internal research program at The Museum of Modern Art that fosters the multiyear study of art histories outside North America and Western Europe. Founded in 2009, C-MAP emerged from a long history of international outreach at the Museum, including recent projects of the International Program and numerous curatorial initiatives. It exemplifies the institution’s broader goal to nourish a nuanced understanding of the history and legacy of modernism in the Museum’s collection, exhibitions, publications, and education programs.
Structure of C-MAP
The initiative, composed of over 50 staff members from 11 departments, is currently organized into three research groups that focus on modern and contemporary art produced in Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America. A senior-level curator leads each group assisted by a resident fellow who has a specialized command of the group’s specific area of focus.
Each group invites eminent scholars, artists, and curators to lead regular seminars at the Museum according to a geographically focused curriculum and conducts research trips to build local contacts and firsthand knowledge. In addition, C-MAP fosters long-term strategic partnerships with distinguished cultural institutions worldwide. As a result of these combined efforts, the groups develop a better understanding of the works already in MoMA’s collection from the areas of study, just as they seek to create a deeper knowledge of the broader historical context for future acquisitions and programs.
C-MAP was initially guided by the expertise of three distinguished counselors who continue to periodically advise the initiative: Mieke Bal, Professor of Humanities, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Universiteit van Amsterdam; Homi Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University; and David Joselit, Distinguished Professor, CUNY Graduate Center.
Online publication: post
post: notes on modern and contemporary art around the globe is the public face of the C-MAP research initiative. post seeks to spark in-depth explorations of artistic practices, contexts, and the ways in which modernism is being redefined. With a primary focus on modern and contemporary art outside North America and Western Europe, the website invites contributions by individuals and institutions from around the world and makes behind-the-scenes research at MoMA available to a broader public. Essays, interviews, trip reports, artists’ commissions, archival materials, translated sources, and bibliographies reflect new research perspectives that continue to emerge in art history today.
C-MAP groups regularly invite domestic and international scholars and artists from around the world to the Museum and have taken numerous trips to their regions of focus. These research activities have contributed significantly to a greater geographical diversity in the Museum’s exhibition and acquisition programs.
The Asia Group has addressed art across this continent, with particular concentrations on Japan, China, and, currently, India. With an initial focus on performativity in postwar Japanese art, the group first organized its programs and activities around MoMA’s exhibition Tokyo 1955–1970: A New Avant-Garde (November 18, 2012– February 25, 2013) and the sourcebook From Postwar to Postmodern, Art in Japan 1945–1989: Primary Documents (MoMA Primary Documents series, 2013). The Asia Group next expanded its temporal scope to the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s and its geographical focus to include China and South Korea, as well as Taiwan and Hong Kong. Since 2015, the group has focused on the histories of modernism, postmodernism, and contemporary art across the Indian Subcontinent, including travel to Mumbai, New Delhi, Kochi, Bangalore, Goa, and Dhaka, to meet with individuals and institutions and attend significant events and exhibitions.
Central and Eastern Europe Group
The Central and Eastern Europe Group considers artists, events, and publications from the region. The group is currently researching the art and architecture of Yugoslavia and the German Democratic Republic, whose complex legacies are being considered anew today. It is engaged in a long-term partnership with the Muzeum Sztuki in Łodz, Poland—a museum that, like The Museum of Modern Art, was founded in 1929. The group began with a focus on the international Fluxus network, inspired by MoMA’s 2009 receipt of the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift, which comprises approximately 8,000 objects in various mediums by artists active in the 1960s and 1970s.
Latin America Group
The Latin America Group examines local hubs of activity with the intention of tracing connections, collaborations, and networks across borders in the region. The group began research in the region by studying abstraction across Latin America, with a particular focus on the rich modernist tradition of Brazil and works already in the Museum’s collection. In 2012, the focus shifted to an interdisciplinary consideration of Brazil with internal meetings and trips that examined the nation’s relationships between history, music, architecture, and visual art. More recently, the Latin America Group examined the cross-pollination between literary and artistic scenes in Chile and Peru and members traveled to meet with artists and scholars and visit institutions. Having spent a year considering the artistic production of Colombia, the group is turning its focus to the modern and contemporary history of art in the Caribbean.
The C-MAP research groups periodically organize joint sessions between all three groups, which enables members to think more deeply about how the Museum might best address a global view of modern and contemporary art. Past seminars have been organized around the topics of transnational histories and nonaligned networks, multiple modernities, international networks, global collecting practices, and challenges of museum display.
The Museum of Modern Art’s Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives (C-MAP) initiative is supported by The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art.
Additional funding for C-MAP travel programs is provided by the Trust for Mutual Understanding and the Patricia Cisneros Travel Fund for Latin America.
Special thanks to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for founding support of C-MAP and post.