MOMA, how I love ya....

World architecture... what's happening generally....

So what do you think of the new look MOMA?

Hyped, and justingly so - an excellent piece of work, a classic of the future
26
50%
Over hyped and over there.
17
33%
It'll be passe and tired in ten years time
9
17%
 
Total votes : 52

MOMA, how I love ya....

Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Nov 23, 2004 7:32 am

Shock of the new, or chill of the morgue? The terminally tasteful new Museum of Modern Art in New York

Most big art museums started off life as houses - rich people's houses, with rich people's art in them. This was as true in 1929 when New York's Museum of Modern Art was founded, as it was in the 18th century when the national collections of European countries were being amassed. Despite successive waves of rebuilding and expansion, MoMA always kept something of that domestic feel. No longer. It has become the world's biggest corporate office foyer.

http://www.hughpearman.com/articles5/moma.html

So what do you think of the new look MOMA?
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Re: MOMA, how I love ya....

Postby alan d » Tue Nov 23, 2004 3:54 pm

Hugh Pearman's piece in the Sunday Times is pretty unequivocal and, to my mind having only seen the press pictures spot on. It does look spartan, corporate and without warmth.

Interestingly though, the piece in the Sunday Observer is more positive, gushing even. Guess I'll just have to go see for myself
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Re: MOMA, how I love ya....

Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Nov 23, 2004 4:41 pm

Gushing seems to be the tone of most pieces, with the exception of Hugh. It seems to be the Disney Hall over again, the east coast parading their new work as the greatest piece of architecture ever.
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Re: MOMA, how I love ya....

Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Nov 23, 2004 5:02 pm

Interesting piece on what curators think of galleries....
From today's issue of The Irish Times


What do we expect from our galleries?



It's a question 300 art experts gathered in Dublin to discuss. The results weren't always illuminating, writes Helen Meany

"Maybe too much attention is paid to curatorial practice." Douglas Fogle was on to something. Towards the end of the second day of Curating Now, a symposium on curating contemporary art, this panellist from the Walker Art Center, in Minneapolis, made a late attempt to change the emphasis of the discussion.

At the Irish Museum of Modern Art, in Dublin, last week 300 people had come to listen to a group of international curators from public museums and galleries discuss their role in the art world.

Visitors from visual-arts institutions in Britain and Europe mingled with young Irish administrators in galleries and museums. They were joined by postgraduate students of the burgeoning discipline of curatorial studies, who were well versed in the language of "museology", with its recently coined adjectives ("curational") and nouns ("gallerist").

Poststructuralist theory is still the currency in this field: the gallery is a "space" with its own "grammar", "discourse" and "problematics"; the museum is a medium, in which the methodology of making exhibitions has become the content. The few artists in the room might well have wondered what this had to do with them.

There was plenty of informal networking, with lots of lively exchanges between sessions and in the city-centre galleries that stayed open late for the occasion. Many of the delegates I spoke to found these opportunities more valuable than the symposium itself. Perhaps it was a result of the way they had been briefed by their hosts at IMMA, but some of the speakers simply presented profiles of their museums or institutions.

They highlighted recent achievements and exhibitions as if this were a marketing opportunity rather than addressing bigger questions about the increased power of the curator internationally and the relationship between public and private funding bodies, institutions, curators and artists. It was disappointing to have so much efficient organisation, planning and time invested in an event that seemed to have very little of substance to communicate and that concluded with the suggestion that it should be repeated next year. We all know that institutions love to have meetings about meetings, but, unless the event were to be thought through much more thoroughly, this seems a dubious proposition.

Had there been an Irish artist on the panel, the focus might have been different. Instead the people representing IMMA - its director, Enrique Juncosa, and senior curator, Rachael Thomas - seemed engaged in a public-relations exercise for the museum. Nobody would expect them to talk about internal problems or difficulties in detail, but there was a bland air of self-promotion that seemed antithetical to open debate.

When one of the panellists, Kevin Power, deputy director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, in Madrid, spoke frankly about the constraints and challenges of his job, referring to the real threat of political interference in the Reina Sofía, Juncosa, who was his predecessor in Madrid, chided him gently for his negative attitude and effectively sidestepped the question of political intervention in or influence on the programming of IMMA.

In the ensuing discussions Power made some of the most interesting contributions, highlighting the necessity for curators to break out of the Eurocentric bias that affects their selections of artists, both within public museums and at the international biennales, where curators wield enormous power. He warned against the same small group of artists being shown everywhere, with international freelance curators duplicating each other's work, creating a narrowly homogeneous view of what contemporary art is and could be.

He also emphasised the inappropriateness of some new museum buildings - "destination architecture" - criticising the lack of flexibility of French architect Jean Nouvel's new extension for the Reina Sofía, which was conceived as a landmark building to put Madrid on the cultural map. Questions about museum architecture recurred: whether it should be about "exteriority", as the Swiss curator, Hans Ulrich Obrist, termed it, citing the example of Frank Gehry's Guggenheim building in Bilbao, or whether it should defer to the art, becoming "a floating non-presence", as US art critic Linda Nochlin described the new extension to New York's Museum of Modern Art this week. Paolo Colombo, curator of Rome's new contemporary art museum, MAXXI, presented a virtual tour of its curvilinear architecture, a complex of old and new buildings designed by Zaha Hadid as "a homage to ancient Rome and the forum, reflecting the complex layering of the city".

For Obrist museums must be laboratories as well as repositories, and are "complex, dynamic learning systems". He emphasised the importance of flexibility, uncertainty, change and incompleteness, and just when there was a danger that this rather abstract notion would flourish on paper only, with eloquent descriptions of "exhibitions without objects", he remembered about the existence of artists, suggesting they could intervene and collaborate in the process of "destabilising the museum".

The inherent tension between the desire of the artist to create, experiment and take risks and that of the public art institution to contain and to mediate was brilliantly articulated by the curator and critic, Iwona Blazwick, director of Whitechapel Art Gallery, in London. She described the relationship between artist and institution as Oedipal. Although a work of art may be "difficult, aggressive, oblique and confrontational, there is a pressure on museums to make art very accessible through mediation and education", she said.

In a thought-provoking presentation she used the Whitechapel as a case study to illustrate the evolution of the public art gallery since the beginning of the 20th century, as ideas about its function and form have changed, informed by politics, economics, geography and subjectivity. From the improving, evangelical aims of the early philanthropic founders of this museum, in the East End of London, who wanted to create a temple providing beauty, instruction, solace and awe to the public, to current theoretical definitions of the gallery as a white cube and a laboratory, she emphasised that galleries are not, and have never been, neutral spaces.

For the future, she said, there are urgent questions to be addressed about art's role in society and whether artists have any political agency. On the subject of curating she asked: "How can artists use the support of an institution but still be experimental? Can we create institutional structures that are robust as well as transparent? Can there be continuity and flexibility?"

It was disappointing that so few of these substantial questions, which came towards the end of the symposium, were addressed directly by the other panellists or speakers from the floor. These could become the basis for another debate - along with issues of independence, funding, bureaucracy, censorship, policy and the rise of the mediator in all areas of the arts. So, same time next year? It's catching, this business of talks about talks.
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Re: MOMA, how I love ya....

Postby alan d » Tue Nov 23, 2004 6:15 pm

Observer Piece: inspired and a triumph, seemingly


Miracle on 54th Street

The building is beautifully simple, the placing of the works inspired - New York's new Museum of Modern Art is a triumph

Gaby Wood
Sunday November 21, 2004
The Observer

Museum of Modern Art New York
When he inaugurated New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1939, Franklin Delano Roosevelt chose to dedicate it, with an optimism that went unrewarded, 'to the cause of peace and to the pursuits of peace'. 'In encouraging the creation and enjoyment of beautiful things,' the President proclaimed, 'we are furthering democracy itself.'

Well, times have certainly changed and New Yorkers are still smarting from an election they feel gave democracy a bad name. But the Museum of Modern Art has reopened its doors, after a four-year, $858-million overhaul which has resulted in a spectacular new home nearly twice the size of the original.

But the new Modern is not just beautiful, though Yoshio Taniguchi's building is that and then some. It offers a new way of looking at art, a new way of living with it and a bracing enthusiasm that has not been felt for years. The museum's presence in the city, a city that has been in need of renewal since another of its landmarks fell, has been much vaunted; Midtown Manhattan seems to open out from its expanded sculpture garden, like giant, magical bric-a-brac.

But MoMA has an influence that extends well beyond New York. It was founded with the aim of creating, in the words of its first director, Alfred H Barr, 'the greatest museum of modern art in the world'. It opened, inauspiciously, in rented rooms 10 days after the stock market crash in 1929, but now Barr's vain hope looks more like a well-kept promise.

You walk in from 53rd Street or 54th - the lobby now stretches across an entire city block and is open to the public - and find yourself in an atrium 110 feet tall. Right there, in the middle of your shortcut to work, is a huge Miró and, on the other side, the rainbow stripes of an Ellsworth Kelly. One wall is made of glass and leads out into the sculpture garden. In front of it stands Rodin's Balzac, a statue made to live outside, so that there is a wonderful feeling of transparency and porousness: Balzac might be inside or out; it's merely an invitation to look and look beyond it.

Upstairs, on a massive mezzanine, is a marvellous mishmash of periods and styles: Monet's Water Lilies, a de Kooning, a Brice Marden and, rising from the middle, Barnett Newman's Broken Obelisk, an inverted needle in heavy metal, balanced on the tip of a triangle. Towering yet fragile, and seemingly impossible, Broken Obelisk sets, along with its unexpected companions, a bold agenda: it's a symbol of iconoclasm at the core of a new art-world order. Floor by floor, a museum that was once criticised for being too didactic has transformed itself into a master of open-ended suggestion. John Elderfield, chief curator of painting and sculpture, explains that he sought to 'take iconic pictures away from their iconic status, to make new work seem familiar, and old work a little strange again, as it was when it was made'.

He has done so with great care, through galleries designed to open out into each other, offering accidental vistas, sideways glances, shifting shapes - a semblance of serendipity.

In a room devoted to Surrealism, there is a vitrine filled with objects - two Joseph Cornell boxes, a Hans Bellmer photograph, a collage by André Breton. But foremost among these otherwise cohesive things is a famous self-portrait by Frida Kahlo. At first, you're not sure why it's there, but then you look a little longer and her hair, shorn and strewn all over the floor, seems to mirror the thatch of twigs covering the face of Cornell's boxed-up doll.

Behind that seep ideas about femininity - Frida is wearing a man's suit, Bellmer's subject is one of his trademark disarticulated sex dolls. And somewhere in there, too, is a fondness for found objects - Kahlo's, though painted, is made to look like the kind of folk-art ex-votos she collected and pasted all over her walls.

As you're looking at the Kahlo in the vitrine, you see, in a gallery beyond it, a mural painting by her husband, Diego Rivera. Rivera is in a gallery of social realists, but from some angles, or even merely subliminally, the lovers are side by side. There is another husband-and-wife echo downstairs. Jackson Pollock is one of the few artists to have a gallery to himself, but that doesn't mean he's isolated. On a wall in a gallery behind his is a painting by Lee Krasner - their works are displayed as if looking at each other from afar.

In a room full of Abstract Expressionists, you'll find a newly acquired Sol LeWitt sculpture next to a Bridget Riley, an Ad Reinhardt and an Agnes Martin. So far, so straightforward. But walk past the LeWitt on your way through another room and you'll see that part of it is hollow. If you look through one end of it, you find the black fragment of a Joseph Beuys, several sections away. Look through the other end - a glimpse of a white Marcel Broodthaers.

John Elderfield says he had a hard time convincing everyone, including himself, of his choices. For every work in the museum, a mock-up was made and put in place. Colour photocopies stood for paintings, and cardboard models were made of each sculpture, including the Brobdingnagian obelisk. But the result is a triumph and the ultimate overarching sense is of a place that can embrace the monumental while remaining perfectly casual. Matisse's dancers, which would have been trumped-up in another museum, are decorating the stairwell here; on the top floor, near the shop, is Francis Bacon's magnificent triptych; there are three beautiful Medardo Rosso's by the lift and a Damien Hirst outside the loo. But nothing is thrown away; it's all important, as if to say this is life and art comes with it.

In the basement is a different kind of museum. Mark Dion's project, Rescue Archeology, involved excavating the sculpture garden and adjoining sites before construction was underway. He found fragments of many moments in the museum's history and beyond: cornices from John D Rockefeller's 19th-century townhouse, matchboxes from an old hotel, the remains of 1940s constructions by Marcel Breuer and Buckminster Fuller, traces of a Bruce Nauman from the 1970s. In a cabinet of muckraked curiosities, he has exhibited some of his findings: buttons, doorbells, bits of porcelain, children's marbles; new taxonomies of discarded razor blades and rusty screws. On six salvaged mantelpieces are a series of fond displays: photos of the old buildings in silver frames (as if they were family members), a pile of doorknobs, a bunch of test tubes full of dust, as if the sametenor of affection extended to it all.

Dion's project echoes the museum's enterprise as a whole: what are museums for? Are they exercises in nostalgia or can they be furnaces for the future? Who establishes the hierarchy and how many stories are there to be told? On celebrating the institution's 75th anniversary this month, Glenn Lowry, MoMA's director, describes the new hang as 'a series of hypotheses, provisional ways of thinking about art'. He emphasises the temporary qualities of the arrangements, as if they now had the confidence to think ardently about change and possibility.

MoMA was designed, in the words of its founders, to be 'frankly devoted to the works of artists who most truly reflect the tendencies of the day'. But in more recent years, it has been decidedly uncontemporary and taken as its main role that of giving a historical account of predominantly 20th-century art.

Now, a substantial part of what's on show are recent acquisitions. They've built their first gallery for works on film and video and have, for the first time, a dedicated space for contemporary art - a majestic floor full of breathtaking objects - by Matthew Barney, Rachel Whiteread, Kiki Smith, Cy Twombly, Richard Serra, Lorna Simpson. Even with the new 640,000 square feet, only about 10 per cent of the museum's collection can be shown at any one time and some of the displays will be rotated every nine months. The galleries are, in John Elderfield's description, less like instructions and more like debates. MoMa is a series of near-miraculous unfoldings, a place that feels like a maze but turns out to be a map: a way of looking at art anew.
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