MOMA people

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There were around 300 people at the media preview and when we were all dispersed to the many nooks and crannies of the 6-floor space, it seemed a thin crowd. But when everybody got rounded up for the opening remarks by MOMA Director, Glenn Lowry, and others, you felt the numbers. And especially, you felt the cameras. I counted around 30 video cameras on tripods. There were a half dozen others bouncing around on shoulders.

Before beginning the session, the speakers — Lowry, (left above), architect Yoshio Taniguchi (two down from Lowry) and others — lined up in the front row and the cameras devoured them for what seemed like ten minutes.

I’d never seen anything as parasitic up close except for when I had a sugar ant attack in my kitchen a couple summers ago. The lineup of cameras reminded me especially of the Goya painting the Third of May with its line up of guns for the execution.

Libby and I had a wonderful encounter with MOMA’s Curator of Photography, Susan Kismaric (shown left, below). The curator, sandwiched between Gillian Wearing‘s self-portrait at age 17 and the green and pink slice of Helen Chadwick‘s round, “No. 11 from Bad Blooms, 1992-92,” was roaming her new gallery space and, unprompted and with great charm, told us all about the Wearing self-portrait. It’s a stunner and very dark and we were fixated on it.

Apparently, the artist mined her family’s scrapbooks and found a photo of herself at age 17, then took it to Madame Toussaud’s wax works and had them make a mask. The artist is wearing the mask and it’s so subtle you can’t tell. What you sense is that something is very wrong and artificial with the portrait.

By the way, Kismaric says there are 25,000 photographs in the MOMA collection and that around 215 are on view now. (Many are new acquisitions, like a big Andreas Gursky rock concert photo-painting; eight color prints by Philip-Lorca diCorcia; a Jeff Wall, three Marco Breuer scratch works (Kismaric explained those also — the artist develops color photo paper (no image) and scores it with varying degrees of force for each line to produce multi-colored striped works. Sometimes he places sand or objects under the paper and scores over them to get a bubbled effect. The three works are pretty captivating We stood long and admired them even before we knew the method of their making.

And in a wonderful merger of print and photograph, the photo galleries house another new acquisition — Andy Warhol‘s photo silkscreen “Double Elvises” from 1963.

Finally, we kept running into our blogging pal, Tyler Green, as he traversed the galleries, happy to see this…unhappy to see that.

The opinion-meister, who looks like the jolly green blogging giant he is in this shot, turns out to have many complaints about the MOMA physical plant. Go read.

I’ve never met a new building that didn’t debut with a few nicks and unfinished corridors. No biggie.

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