Cézanne to Picasso: Paintings from the David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection is an intimate installation that highlights a group of nine exceptional early modern European paintings that have been promised over the years to The Museum of Modern Art by David and Peggy Rockefeller. Mr. Rockefeller’s association with MoMA began in his childhood when he often visited the galleries with his mother, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, who, along with Miss Lillie P. Bliss and Mrs. Cornelius J. Sullivan, founded the Museum in 1929. He has served the Museum with great distinction in many capacities, including two terms as Chairman of the Board of Trustees and in his present position as Honorary Chairman.
Cézanne to Picasso: Paintings from the David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection is organized by Ann Temkin, Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, and is on view in The Mercedes T. and Sid R. Bass Gallery on the fifth floor from July 17 to August 31, 2009.
Thematically, the ensemble provides a small survey of portraiture, landscape, and still-life painting during the early period of modern art. Featuring superb examples of Post-Impressionist, Fauvist, and Cubist painting, ranging from Paul Cézanne’s Still Life with Fruit Dish (1879–80) to Pablo Picasso’s The Reservoir, Horta de Ebro (summer 1909), this presentation of the early flowering of modern art celebrates the Rockefellers’ longstanding generosity to the Museum.
The installation begins with four works associated with Post-Impressionism: Cézanne’s Still Life with Fruit Dish and Boy in a Red Vest (1888-90), Paul Gauguin’s Portrait of Jacob Meyer de Haan (1889), and Paul Signac’s Opus 217. Against the Enamel of a Background Rhythmic with Beats and Angles, Tones, and Tints, Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon in 1890 (1890).
Fauvist works by Henri Matisse and André Derain feature the radical color palette that the artists developed together in the summer of 1905 in Collioure, France. In Interior with a Young Girl (Girl Reading) (1905–06), Matisse painted his daughter Marguerite in nearly as many colors as the fruit on the table beside her. In Charing Cross Bridge (1906 or 1907), Derain ignores the customary gray of the London sky, rendering it instead with imaginative colors. These two works are followed by Georges Braque’s The Large Trees, L’Estaque (1906-07) and Raoul Dufy’s The 14th of July at Le Havre (1907). The installation concludes with Picasso’s cubist landscape The Reservoir, Horta de Ebro.
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Fundación Telefónica presents the personal project of one of the greatest creators of the XX century, made of more than 300 painted pictures coming from his personal albums. The show includes images from private collections and from the artist himself on which Richter has worked since 1989 until the present. Gerhard Richter is considered one of the most influential artists of our time without ever having limited himself to one single style. His varied production includes sculptures and paintings that range from landscapes to colourist abstractions and monochromatic greys. Dragging the photos over wet paint, Richter creates new images.
Richter has initiated a fruitful dialogue between painting and photography that has resulted in his painted photographs, small-format images taken during his travels, walks or within his own home. Those images that do not fit within his personal album due to their lack of specificity or focus or for being duplicates are subsequently painted. The images that compose the Overpainted Photographs exhibition come from private collections and the artist’s own collection, and they reflect the intensity and perseverance with which Richter has worked on this project from 1989 to the present day.
Gerhard Richter (Dresden, Germany, 1932) was trained in the Dresden and Dusseldorf art academies and learned photography as a laboratory technician. At the end of the nineteen sixties, he worked together with artists such as Polke and Baselitz, forming what was called Capitalist Realism. Following his first exhibition in 1963, he has received prizes such as the Junger Westen, Arnold Bode and Oskar Kokoschka awards. Furthermore, in 1972 he represented Germany in the Venice Biennale and participated in the Kassel Documentas of 1977, 1982 and 1987. In 2001, the MoMA organised Richter’s first large retrospective Forty Years of Painting.
Telefonica Foundation (Fundación Telefónica)’s Art and Technology website. The Foundation, based in Madrid, Spain, creates exhibitions and manages collections related to media art, cyberculture, contemporary art and telecommunications. The site provides information about: temporary exhibitions, held at the Telefonica Museum and Temporary Exhibition Halls; virtuality and cyber art activities, which include installations, exhibitions, commentary, and competitions; and in-house productions of exhibitions, installations and projects. The site also provides information about its two collections: The Historical-Technological Collection, which traces the “evolution of telecommunications from its origins through to the late 1960’s”; and the art collections, of figurative art and Spanish contemporary art. www.fundacion.telefonica.com/
In the first major retrospective of Ron Arad’s work on US-soil, the “No Discipline” exhibit will begin later this summer on August 2nd. The approximately two month long exhibition will include a wealth of design highlights from the accomplished creative with his visionary approach to ” form, structure, technology, and materials” on display which has earned him such a great following. Of the over 140 works of art, some will be featured in special structures designed by Michael Castellan of Ron Arad Associates. The structure titled Cage San Frontières (Cage Without Frontiers) is a massive 126.5 feet (38.5 meters) long structure and measures at over 16 feet (5 meters) in height. Each of the 240 cells creates a reflective effect on the objects inside. In addition to this masterful piece of work comes some of Ron Arad’s most recognizable works such as the Rover Chair (1981), the Concrete stereo (1983), the Bookworm Bookshelves (1993) and more contemporary works such as the Lamp Pizzakobra (2008). The event as mentioned begins August 2nd and runs until October 19th at New York’s MoMA.
Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist (b. 1962), best known for her lush multimedia installations that playfully and provocatively merge fantasy and reality, has created a site-specific monumental video, sound, and sculptural installation that will immerse MoMA’s atrium in moving images for the first time. Multiple high definition projections comprise a panorama measuring 25 feet high and 200 feet in almost surround, turning the atrium into a gigantic pool of images filled with liquid volume of light and color.
Visitors will be able to experience the work while walking through the space or sitting upon a sculptural seating island designed by the artist and Atelier Rist Sisters. Sound by Anders Guggisberg. Organized by Klaus Biesenbach, Chief Curator of Media, The Museum of Modern Art. On view 19 November through 2 February, 2009 at MoMA.
Elisabeth Charlotte Rist was born in 1962 in Grabs, Sankt Gallen, in Switzerland. Since her childhood she has been nicknamed Pipilotti. The name refers to the novel ‘Pippi Longstocking’ by Astrid Lindgren. Rist studied at the Institute of Applied Arts in Vienna, through 1986. She later studied video at the School of Design (Schule für Gestaltung) in Basel, Switzerland. In 1997 her work was first featured in the Venice Biennial, where she was awarded the Premio 2000 Prize.
From 2002 to 2003, she was invited by Professor Paul McCarthy to teach at UCLA as a visiting faculty member. Pipilotti Rist currently lives with her common law partner Balz Roth, with whom she has a son, named Himalaya.
During her studies Pipilotti Rist began making super 8 films. Her works generally last only a few minutes, and contained alterations in their colors, speed, and sound. Her works generally treat issues related to gender, sexuality, and the human body.
In contrast to those of many other conceptual artists, her colorful and musical works transmit a sense of happiness and simplicity. Rist’s work is regarded as feminist by some art critics. Her works are held by many important art collections worldwide.
The Museum of Modern Art, in association with Cinecittà Holding, presents the New York premiere of Ferzan Ozpetek’s most recent film, Un giorno perfetto (A Perfect Day) (2008), as one of the features of Filmmaker in Focus: Ferzan Ozpetek, a seven-film exhibition of one of the most successful contemporary Italian filmmakers. The premiere of A Perfect Day on Friday, December 5, at 6:00 p.m., will be introduced by actress Isabella Ferrari, and followed by a Q&A with Ozpetek (b. 1959, Istanbul) and Laura Delli Colli, film critic and author of a monograph that will be released in conjunction with the exhibition, titled Ferzan Ozpetek: Eyes Wide Open, edited by Mondadori.
“Joan Miró: Painting and Anti-Painting 1927–1937” is the first major museum exhibition to identify the core practices and strategies Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893–1983) used to attack and reinvigorate painting between 1927 and 1937, a vital decade within his long career. Taking as its point of departure the notorious claim Miró made in 1927—“I want to assassinate painting”—the exhibition explores 12 of Miró’s sustained series from this decade, and includes some 90 paintings, collages, objects, and drawings. The exhibition is organized by Anne Umland, Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, and will be on view in The Joan and Preston Robert Tisch Gallery, from November 2, 2008, through January 12, 2009.
Explains Ms. Umland, “This exhibition takes a close-up, in-depth look at a decade’s worth of Miró’s work, created during a period of economic and political turmoil, illuminating the way his drive to assassinate painting led him to reinvigorate, reinvent, and radicalize his art. The resulting body of work is at times willfully ugly, and at others savagely beautiful. It brings together both beloved masterpieces and largely unfamiliar works, transforming our understanding of Miró’s legacy for our own twenty-first century times.”
In 1941, The Museum of Modern Art organized the first full retrospective of Miró’s work to be mounted anywhere in the world, followed by major exhibitions in 1959 and 1973, and a landmark retrospective, presented on the centennial of his birth, in 1993. Fifteen years later, Joan Miró: Painting and Anti-Painting 1927–1937 offers a fresh look at the artist’s work through a tightly focused presentation of a single transformative decade.
By assembling in unprecedented depth the interrelated series of works of this decade, this exhibition repeatedly poses the question of what painting meant to Miró and what he proposed as its opposite, and in the process reveals the artist’s paradoxical nature: an artist of aggression and resistance who never ceased to be a painter, a creator of forms. Acidic color, grotesque disfigurement, purposeful stylistic heterogeneity, and the use of collage and readymade materials are among the tactics that Joan Miró used to take apart and reconstruct painting and his own art.
The body of work Miró produced between 1927 and 1937 is symptomatic of the troubling malaise and creeping sense of doom that emerged in Europe as the so-called Roaring Twenties came to an end, and as the political tensions that would, by 1939, lead to World War II became increasingly apparent. The compressed time period examined by the exhibition reveals the extensive range of Miró’s experimentation during these years and the many different types of art making he pursued in order to produce a body of work that defiantly refuses to add up. The persistent tension he maintained between abstraction and figuration, the radical and the traditional, formal mastery and aesthetic “murder,” is among his radical achievements.
The exhibition’s principal goal is to illuminate the particular and changing character of Miró’s challenge to painting during these years, a period of his work that is generally under-recognized and not well understood. This exhibition reunites works from long-separated series, including over 20 works never before seen in the United States. The Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, have each contributed a number of important loans to the exhibition, among them the Pompidou’s remarkable Portrait of a Dancer (1928), which has never been shown in the United States and which, for the first time since leaving Miró’s studio, will be reunited in this exhibition with the two other extant works from the artist’s series of Spanish Dancer collages.
The exhibition is organized to follow Miró’s practice of conceiving and executing his works in distinct series, adopting the artist’s own groupings and, in the case of those works that he dated by day, month, and year, reflecting the sequence of presentation that he determined. The installation is structured around 12 series created between 1927 and 1937, while working in Paris, Montroig (a rural village on the coast of Catalonia), and Barcelona. It begins with a 1927 group of works on unprimed canvas and concludes with 1937’s singular, hallucinatory painting, Still Life with Old Shoe, a work that establishes a historical endpoint for this decade-long period of experimentation. The tight chronological framework affords the opportunity to present individual series of works in sustained depth.
Constructions and Objects, 1930–32: Working in Montroig between August and November 1930, Miró created as many as 12 relief constructions, although only the two on view in this gallery are known to have survived. The following year he began to make small objects, including the six presented in this gallery, that frequently combine found materials with painted figures and passages of glued sand, juxtaposing real-world objects with imaginative images to create a richly volatile mix of painting and assemblage. Miró and the Surrealists pointedly referred to many of the three-dimensional works he made between 1931 and 1932 as objects, not sculptures, to underscore their distance from aesthetic conventions and norms. Wood panels and blocks recur frequently, both as defiant references to the tradition of painting on wood and as surfaces onto which objects are nailed or stapled.
Still Life with Old Shoe, 1937: Miró left Barcelona for Paris sometime before October 28, 1936. With the civil war in Spain advancing without a foreseeable end, he decided to remain in the French capital; his wife and daughter joined him in December. They would not return to Spain for four years. On January 12, 1937, Miró announced his intent to do “something absolutely different,” and abruptly returned to working from life—from the observation of an external model, of real objects arranged in space. The result was the incandescent, hallucinatory painting Still Life with Old Shoe, which marks a historical endpoint to the decade-long period presented in this exhibition. The painting is both a still life and a landscape, in which the irregular back edge of the tabletop can also be read as an undulating horizon line. Scale and perspective have been adjusted, so that the worn old shoe dwarfs the surrounding objects. The color is highly saturated and dissonant, and the objects seem to glow from within.
The Museum of Modern Art, in collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, presents Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night, the first exhibition to examine Vincent van Gogh’s lyrical view of the night through nocturnal interiors and landscapes, which he often combined with other longstanding themes of his art—peasant life, sowers, wheatfields, and the encroachment of modernity on the rural scene. This exhibition includes 23 paintings and 10 works on paper from all periods of Van Gogh’s career, as well as a selection of his letters and examples of the rich literary sources that influenced the artist’s work in this area by writers such as Hans Christian Andersen, Jules Michelet, and Emile Zola. It will be on view at MoMA through January 5, 2009, and then it travels to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, where it will be on view February 13 to June 7, 2009.
Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night is organized by Joachim Pissarro, Adjunct Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Bershad Professor of Art History and Director of the Hunter College Galleries, Hunter College, New York; Sjraar van Heugten, Head of Collections, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam; and Jennifer Field, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art.
Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890) depicted and reflected upon the night throughout his career. Painting in the dark was a challenge in the late nineteenth century, particularly for an artist who relied merely on his powers of observation; Van Gogh refused to be bound by this alternative to work strictly from observation, or from imagination. Instead, he relied on both. Thus, he was also an artist for whom the real was intertwined with the symbolic, and who set out to capture the spiritual qualities he sensed in the world around him. It was during the night hours that his experiments with imagination, memory, and observation, altogether went the farthest.
Mr. Pissarro says, “Van Gogh’s night scenes offer rich layers of significations and associations. Some show the strong relationship that he perceived between the cycles of nature and those of rural labor. Others evoke poetic associations of the evening with either the vagaries of life in modern times or with profound metaphysical questions. Van Gogh’s works and letters not only carried on the art historical tradition of twilight and night scenes but also reflected how his thoughts were influenced by abundant literary sources. The powerful technical innovation— Van Gogh’s signature—that he applied to capture the effects of dark and light proved to be a rewarding field of investigation.”
The exhibition is divided into four sections. “Early Landscapes” features Van Gogh’s earliest landscapes at dusk, painted in 1883-84. “Peasant Life” refers to Van Gogh’s study of peasants in Nuenen in the southern Dutch province of Brabant, and features, most notably, The Potato Eaters (1885). The third section, “Sowers and Wheatfields,” addresses his interest in the sowing of wheat, which formed the basis of many of his works, including The Sower (1888). The last section, “Poetry of the Night, ” focuses on Van Gogh’s lyrical view of the night and is divided into two parts: “The Town,” which features works such as The Night Café (1888), which will only be shown in the MoMA presentation, and The Starry Night over the Rhône (1888); and “The Country,” which centers on Van Gogh’s iconic painting The Starry Night (1889) from MoMA’s collection.
Van Gogh did not pursue a career as an artist until 1880, when he was 27 years old. Many of his earliest paintings portray the effects of aerial light, particularly around sunset, on the landscape of Brabant, the region in the southern Netherlands where he was born. In these works, including Lane of Poplars at Sunset (1884) and Evening Landscape (1885), the artist aligned himself with the centuries-old traditions of night scenes and Dutch landscape painting, typified by seventeenthcentury masters such as Rembrandt and Jacob van Ruisdael, respectively. In the middle decades of the nineteenth century, nocturnal landscapes were favored by the Barbizon painters in France, such as Charles Daubigny and Jules Dupré, whom Van Gogh greatly admired. At first a devotee of their effets de soir, or “evening effects,” Van Gogh soon took up the challenge of fashioning his own approach and modernizing this genre with his striking use of color and rhythmic brushstroke.
Van Gogh believed that rural laborers stood closer to nature than other people, and were more strongly linked to the cycles of life. Between 1883 and 1885, while living with his parents in Brabant, he made a series of paintings and drawings describing the humble life of the peasants there. One of these was The Potato Eaters, which depicts a family gathered around their evening meal. His first significant interior night scene, it is also widely accepted as his first major canvas.
To make it he returned regularly to the home of a local family and sketched them at dinner. In 1885, he included a sketch of the scene in a letter in his brother Theo. Before starting the final composition, Van Gogh made one large study, from which he printed a lithograph, also on view, and a series of studies of figures and heads. The Potato Eaters was immediately followed by The Cottage (1885), a painting of one of the region’s modest rural homes, again depicted in the evening. Van Gogh’s affection for such dwellings, which he called “human nests,” would be evident in his work until the end of his life.
Sowers and Wheatfields
In February 1888, Van Gogh moved to Arles, a Provençal town in the South of France. Here he adopted a more vibrant palette, moving away from closely representational painting toward a more poetic, associative approach. He was fascinated by the effects of the southern light at different times of day, and in several paintings he combined scenes of peasants sowing or harvesting wheat with the cool tones of twilight, or with the ambers and golds of a large sun nearing the horizon, like in the various versions of The Sower. For Van Gogh, the endless flow of the days and the cycle of sowing and harvesting functioned symbolically as metaphors for the eternal cycle of life and death. It was in working through this theme that he began to come closer to his mature style, honing his use of complementary colors, such as violet and yellow, and embracing the stylistic elements of Japanese woodblock prints, which he had viewed with enthusiasm in Paris over the previous two years.
Poetry of the Night -The Town:
Van Gogh looked hard at the world around him, and his depictions of night extended to the afterdark entertainments of urban life, such as cafés and dance halls. In The Night Café, for example, he observed the listless patrons of a bar underneath the harsh glare of gas lamps at night. Despite their obvious differences, he connected this work to his earlier painting The Potato Eaters, an equally ambitious rendering of a complex figure arrangement in a nocturnal interior. Yet he was still preoccupied with nature, and after finishing The Night Café he wrote to his sister Wil, “I definitely want to paint a starry sky now.” He had expressed this aspiration in letters throughout 1888, but the painting had not yet materialized. Eventually he had the idea of setting up his easel under the outdoor gas lamps of an Arles café, which lit the canvas enough for him to paint a street scene below twinkling stars. Twelve nights later, emboldened by the results of this endeavor, Van Gogh embarked on his seminal painting The Starry Night over the Rhône, which features a vast expanse of night sky in the upper half of the canvas.
Van Gogh’s interest in working from both observation and imagination fused in the night scenes he made in 1889 and 1890. Among these was The Starry Night, the culmination of his intense effort to conquer the problems of using color to depict darkness, as well as to register the spiritual and symbolic meanings that he saw in the nighttime hours. The Starry Night has become an iconic image, an emblem not only of Van Gogh’s own work but also of modern art in general. It shows a fantastical sky above a town and hills lit only by the stars and moon—which, however, are vibrant and alive. The little village and the hills beyond were inspired by Saint-Rémy and the nearby Alpilles mountain range, but were not modeled on them closely, and the cypress trees and the thickly painted, swirling astral sky stemmed from Van Gogh’s imagination. In the open night skies Van Gogh perceived formidable forces of nature, capable both of providing consolation amid life’s daily adversities and of evoking eternity.
Josephine Meckseper & Mikhael Subotzky’ ‘New Photography 2008: To Present At the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) ‘New Photography 2008:
The Museum of Modern Art presents New Photography 2008: Josephine Meckseper and Mikhael Subotzky, the latest installment of its annual fall showcase of significant recent work in contemporary photography. New Photography 2008: Josephine Meckseper and Mikhael Subotzky is organized by Roxana Marcoci, Curator, Department of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art, and will be on view from September 10, 2008, through January 5, 2009.
This year’s exhibition features the work of two artists, Josephine Meckseper (German, b. 1964) and Mikhael Subotzky (South African, b. 1981). Three works from Meckseper’s Quelle International series were created specifically for the exhibition, and the photographs from her Blow-Up series are making their North American premiere. Meckseper makes photographs and mixed-medium installations that cunningly expose the links between politics and the consumer worlds of fashion and advertising. Her signature installations involve various displays—sleek mirrored shelves, chromed glass vitrines—filled with eclectic scraps from consumer society and political culture. Subotzky’s recent body of photographic work, Beaufort West (2006-2008), shown here for the first time in North America, portrays a small desert town in South Africa’s Western Cape blighted by unemployment, rampant crime, domestic violence, poverty, and segregation.
Twenty-three years after the first New Photography exhibition, the series continues to highlight the Museum’s commitment to the work of less familiar artists and seeks to represent the most interesting accomplishments in contemporary photography. Since its inception in 1985, work by 65 artists from 14 countries has been featured in this forum. New Photography has featured such influential artists as Rineke Dijkstra (1997), Olafur Eliasson (1998), JoAnn Verburg (1990), and Philip-Lorca diCorcia (1986), among many others.
Explains Ms. Marcoci, “While the objectives of Josephine Meckseper and Mikhael Subotzky are surely diverse, the work of each artist exemplifies recent developments: the reinvention of documentary practice in contemporary photography in Subotzky’s case, and the expanding of the medium of photography into a series of artistic operations to expose the gray area between advertising, politics, and fashion in Meckseper’s case. Both artists’ endeavors attest to photography’s potential for constructing, documenting, enacting, and engaging with meaning in the world today.”
In her photographs and signature vitrine displays, Meckseper explores the media’s strategy of mixing political news and advertising content. The eleven Meckseper works in the exhibition are from the artist’s Blow-Up and Quelle International series, as well as one mixed-medium work, Kriegstrasse (2008), created specifically for the show. Included are five photographs from the Blow-Up series, shown here for the first time in North America; two mixed-medium works that are also part of the Blow-Up series; two Quelle International photographs; and one Quelle International wallpaper. The works from the Quelle International series were created specifically for this exhibition, and the installation of Blow-Up photographs hanging on top of the Quelle International wallpaper represents a never-before-seen configuration of the work.
Meckseper’s works use the conventions and imagery of advertising—posing models, flashy backdrops, and end-of-season sales—to address the industry’s persuasive impact and to investigate the ways in which political power is articulated in advertising in a world consumed by appearances.
After growing up in an artistic family with ties to the revolutionary left, Meckseper moved from Berlin to the United States and studied at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. It was there that she produced her first photographic and film works, during the 1992 riots following the verdict in the Rodney King police-brutality trial in Los Angeles. On television news shows, continuous media coverage of the escalating tension between local African Americans and the Los Angeles Police Department was punctuated with advertisements, prompting Meckseper to question the way protest culture is aligned with fashion in our media-saturated age.
Subotzky’s most recent project, the Beaufort West series (2006-08)—which makes its North American premiere in this exhibition with 21 photographs on view—is named after a small town in the Karoo Desert along the busy route between Cape Town and Johannesburg. The artist was drawn to this subject by the local jail, which is strangely situated in the center of the town, in a traffic circle at the intersection of the main highway. His photographs of Beaufort West’s various populations—inmates, outcasts, families, residents, and passersby—formulate a stirring vision of South Africa’s strained post-apartheid condition.
Taken with a medium-format camera in existing light, Subotzky’s pictures articulate multiple narratives: a preacher leads a prayer session in the prison; a well-dressed man attends the Agricultural Show, an annual social event for the wealthy; the residents of Vaalkoppies, Beaufort West’s garbage dump, scavenge for food; members of the Ai 26s gang abuse drugs; a police officer interrogates a suspect who has just been arrested. Subotzky records white domination and black dispossession without relying on politicized reportage. His scenes are at once introspective and direct, reflecting both the individual and the systemic aspects of South Africa’s colonialist legacy in the post-apartheid age.
For his student thesis project, completed in 2004, Subotzky created a series of panoramic photographs of prisoners in the notorious Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison, in which former South African president Nelson Mandela spent several years of his political imprisonment.
The Museum of Modern Art presents Wunderkammer: A Century of Curiosities, a contemporary reinterpretation of the centuries-old European “cabinet of curiosities” or Wunderkammer. These cabinets date back to Renaissance Europe, when private collectors began accumulating exotic, wondrous, fantastic, or bizarre objects via travels, scientific experiments and investigations, and other collecting methods. The organization and display of such collections were attempts to rationalize and categorize a vast bounty of information, and today’s museums can be understood as an outgrowth of them. On view through November 11, 2008.
Wunderkammer follows this example, with groups of works organized by theme and taxonomy, and features nearly 130 prints, books, multiples, drawings, photographs, design objects, and sculptures by over 60 artists, from the nineteenth century to the present, and includes a cabinet uniquely constructed for the exhibition that contains numerous pieces from the Museum’s collection. New acquisitions by Jake and Dinos Chapman, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Olafur Eliasson, and Nicolas Lampert, among others, are displayed for the first time at MoMA. The exhibition is organized by Sarah Suzuki, The Sue and Eugene Mercy, Jr., Assistant Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books, The Museum of Modern Art.
In addition to the newly acquired works, a wide selection of works from the Museum’s collection that have never been shown before are also on view. Included are Louise Bourgeois’s (American, b. 1911) 8 foot long woodcut and lithograph, The Songs of the Blacks and the Blues (1996); Joseph Cornell’s (American, 1903-72) Untitled (1972), a construction of a glass eye in a spring within a glass vitrine; a print from Claes Oldenburg (American, b. 1929), Screwarch Bridge, state II (1980); and a lithograph of White Teeth (1963) by Jim Dine (American, born 1935), among others.
Odilon Redon (French, 1840-1916), closely allied with the Symbolist movement, rejected the visible universe in favor of one inspired by dreams and fantasy, trips to natural history museums, and attendance at medical lectures. Included in the exhibition are multiple works by Redon, notably The Crying Spider (1887), an example of his use of invented hybrid characters, figures drawn from that fantastic world of Redon’s studies and imagination.
The Surrealists carried on a similar pursuit, famously declaring in their 1924 manifesto, “the marvelous is always beautiful,” and often relied on chance and the unconscious to look beyond the known. Work by Leonora Carrington (British, b. 1917), Dorothea Tanning (American, b. 1910), Wols (German, 1913-1951), Max Ernst (German, 1891-1976), and Hans Bellmer (German, 1902-1975) illustrate and explore these concepts. In Une Semaine de Bonte (1934), Ernst created a “collage novel,” created by combining imagery culled from nineteenth and early-twentieth century pulp novels, scientific journals, mail-order catalogues, and natural history magazines. To create his series of 34 collotypes Histoire Naturelle (1926), Ernst made rubbings over various surfaces—wood, crumpled paper, crusts of bread—then allowed the resulting textures to inspire him to invent strange landscapes, objects, or animals.
With Mark Dion (American, b. 1961), the Wunderkammer tradition is upheld in the twenty-first century, as Dion accumulates, classifies, and displays curious objects in cabinets of his own creation. Dion’s Cabinet (2004), originally commissioned for MoMA’s 2004 reopening, contains cleaned and classified relics recovered from beneath the Museum’s Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden and the surrounding area, prior to the construction of the new building.
Dreamland: Architectural Experiments since the 1970s is an exhibition of works drawn from the MoMA collection of Architecture and Design that explores the ways in which the singular landscape of New York has inspired architects since the 1970s with visions of utopia. The city has served as a model for architectural projections and reflections, and also as a metaphor for the complex relationship between the limitations of reality and the infinite possibilities of architectural thought. On display through October 27, 2008.