“You and all my writer friends have given me much help and improved my understanding of many things,” Joan Miró told the French poet Michel Leiris in the summer of 1924, writing from his family’s farm in Montroig, a small village nestled between the mountains and the sea in his native Catalonia. The next year, Miró’s intense engagement with poetry, the creative process, and material experimentation inspired him to paint The Birth of the World.
In this signature work, Miró covered the ground of the oversize canvas by applying paint in an astonishing variety of ways that recall poetic chance procedures. He then added a series of pictographic signs that seem less painted than drawn, transforming the broken syntax, constellated space, and dreamlike imagery of avant-garde poetry into a radiantly imaginative and highly inventive form of painting. He would later describe this work as “a sort of genesis,” and his Surrealist poet friends titled it The Birth of the World. [source: MoMA]
The exhibition ran between February-June 2019 and featured artwork from the Museum of Modern Art’s collection of Miró’s works, which is one of the finest and most comprehensive in the world. However, the most comprehensive selection of Miró’s oeuvre actually on view has to be that of the Fundació Joan Miró, in Barcelona, a dedicated space created by Joan Miró himself with the idea of making art accessible to all.
Elevating the functional to a timeless work of art.
“Is there art in a broomstick? Yes, says Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art, if it is designed both for usefulness and good looks.” This quote, from a 1953 Time magazine review of one of MoMA’s mid-century Good Design exhibitions, gets to the heart of a question the Museum has been asking since its inception: What is good design and how can it enhance everyday life?
Featuring objects from domestic furnishings and appliances to ceramics, glass, electronics, transport design, sporting goods, toys, and graphics, The Value of Good Design explored the democratizing potential of design, beginning with MoMA’s Good Design initiatives from the late 1930s through the 1950s, which championed well-designed, affordable contemporary products. [source: MoMA]
Benjamin Bowden Spacelander bicycle 1946 Fiberglass, chrome-plated steel, leather, and rubber
Launched at the Britain Can Make It exhibition organized by the Council of Industrial design in 1946, this curvaceous product hinted at a future of consumerist affluence, and the glamour associated with the utopian worlds of science-fiction films. It was one of many prototypes for new, industrially produced goods that over 1.4 million people queued to see. While it could be admired, the bicycle could not be bought at the time of the exhibition, owing to continued shortages of materials and labour after World War II. ”Britain Can’t Have It” became the show’s popular nickname.
From The Value of Good Design, an exhibition at MoMA in Feb 10-Jun 15, 2019.
Ian Cheng Emissary Forks At Perfection 2015-16 Live simulation and story (colour, sound). Infinite duration
”A video game that plays itself,” as Cheng describes it, this digital simulation is generated in real time with no fixed beginning or end. Created using the Unity engine, a popular software tool for developing 3-D video games and AI models, the animation takes place far in the future. It tells the story of Talus Twenty Nine, an artificial intelligence that oversees a lush terrain in which new plants and animals constantly evolve in a Darwinian setting. The AI resurrects an ancient cadaver from the twenty-first century, and summons a pet dog to guide the undead through his posthuman world. Every time the program is run, a new scenario unfolds. The result is an endlessly changing, fantastical model of biological evolution and machine learning in the absence of human life. [source: MoMA]
Emissaries is a trilogy of simulations about cognitive evolution, past and future, and the ecological conditions that shape it. It is composed of three interconnected episodes, each centered on the life of an emissary who is caught between unraveling old realities and emerging weird ones. [source: Ian Cheng]
Emissary in the Squat of Gods Emissary Forks At Perfection Emissary Sunsets The Self
Of all the stars who worked in the golden age of the Hollywood studio system, few valued the acts of looking and being looked at more than Jerry Lewis. Lewis had years of stage experience behind him by the time he emerged as a major screen actor and director, and acknowledging the audience became an essential aspect of the ”comedy of looks” that characterized his work. In no other Lewis film is the experience of being seen so central a theme as it is in The Nutty Professor (1963), in which he treats his audience as a main character. In this adaptation of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story, his masterly dual performance as the self-effacing Professor Kelp and the narcissistic Buddy Love represents different sides of the Lewis persona, while on-screen students and night-club audiences who witness his character’s behaviour represent the critical gaze of the movie-going public.
[source: MoMA]Bill Avery
Jerry Lewis shooting a home movie, 1953
Jerry Lewis mixing music at this home, 1961
John Jensen (American, 1924-2003)
Scenes from the Hangover sequence, 1962
Black and coloured pencil on vellum paper John Jensen (American, 1924-2003)
Scenes from the Stella fantasy sequence, 1962
Black and coloured pencil and pastel on vellum paper John Jensen (American, 1924-2003)
Mina bird cage sketches, 1962
Pencil on paper John Lauris Jensen’s storyboards for The Nutty Professor were on display between October 2018 – March 2019; they were a recent gift to the Museum of Modern Art.
Images from Disappearing Acts, a Bruce Nauman retrospective that was presented in two parts, in MoMa and MoMA PS1.
”Disappearing Acts traces what Nauman has called “withdrawal as an art form”—both literal and figurative incidents of removal, deflection, and concealment. Bodies are fragmented, centers are left empty, voices emanate from hidden speakers, and the artist sculpts himself in absentia, appearing only as negative space. The retrospective charts these forms of omission and loss across media and throughout the decades, following Nauman as he circles back to earlier concerns with new urgency. Presented in two complementary parts, at The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1, this is the most comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s work ever assembled.” [source: MoMA]
Last photo (not) showing the Starry Night, by Vincent van Gogh; I wonder when (or even if) will we ever see crowds like this anymore…
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