Contemporary Art from the Collection

Contemporary Art from the Collection, a complete reinstallation of The Museum of Modern Art’s 14,740-square-foot galleries for contemporary art, offers a focused examination of artistic practice since the late 1960s and how current events from the last 40 years have shaped artists’ work.

Art Exhibition previously on at The Museum of Modern Art - MoMA in New York, United States.
From Wednesday 30 June 2010 to Monday 09 May 2011

Marxism and Art: Beware of Fascist Feminism. 1977. image

Published by MOMA on Tuesday 26 October 2010.
Contact the publisher.

On view from June 30, 2010, to May 9, 2011, the installation presents approximately 130 works by over 60 artists, including Lynda Benglis, Daniel Buren, Paul Chan, General Idea, the Guerrilla Girls, David Hammons, Yoko Ono, and Kara Walker. Contemporary Art from the Collection is the most recent installation of these galleries, which are regularly reconfigured and reinstalled to display the Museum’s vast collection and to allow visitors to explore the art of today. Many of the works are on view for the first time since their acquisition, including works by Hammons, Kalup Linzy, Pino Pascali, and Robert Rauschenberg, among others. Contemporary Art from the Collection is organized by Kathy Halbreich, Associate Director, and Christophe Cherix, Curator, Department of Prints and Illustrated Books, The Museum of Modern Art.

As part of the exhibition, several projects are on view throughout other parts of the Museum, including the Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium, The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, and Cafe 2, where a series of performances will take place beginning in January 2011. Kara Walker’s 50-foot-long wall installation Gone: An Historical Romance of a Civil War as It Occurred b’tween the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart (1994) is on view in the Marron Atrium through November 29, 2010. First exhibited in her 1994 New York debut, the piece inaugurated the artist’s signature medium: meticulous black cutout silhouettes of caricatured antebellum figures arranged on a white wall in uncanny, sexualized, and often violent scenarios. In the work’s elaborate title, “Gone” refers to Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 best-selling melodramatic novel Gone with the Wind, set during the American Civil War. While Walker’s narrative begins and ends with coupled figures, the work’s tragicomic chain of turbulent imagery refutes the promise of romance and confounds straightforward definitions of power.As part of the exhibition, several projects are on view throughout other parts of the Museum, including the Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium, The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, and Cafe 2, where a series of performances will take place beginning in January 2011. Kara Walker’s 50-foot-long wall installation Gone: An Historical Romance of a Civil War as It Occurred b’tween the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart (1994) is on view in the Marron Atrium through November 29, 2010. First exhibited in her 1994 New York debut, the piece inaugurated the artist’s signature medium: meticulous black cutout silhouettes of caricatured antebellum figures arranged on a white wall in uncanny, sexualized, and often violent scenarios. In the work’s elaborate title, “Gone” refers to Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 best-selling melodramatic novel Gone with the Wind, set during the American Civil War. While Walker’s narrative begins and ends with coupled figures, the work’s tragicomic chain of turbulent imagery refutes the promise of romance and confounds straightforward definitions of power.

Across from Walker’s installation in the Marron Atrium, Yoko Ono’s Voice Piece for Soprano (1961/2010) is also on view through November 29, 2010. A microphone stands near a set of instructions silkscreened onto the atrium wall: “Scream: against the wind, against the wall, against the sky.” Throughout the run of the installation, MoMA visitors are invited to follow the instructions, and, in addressing both the public and the institution, become participants in the work. Additional interventions by Ono are also on view, including Wish Tree (1996/2010), installed within the Sculpture Garden. For this piece, visitors are provided with a pen and paper; after writing a “wish,” they then attach the paper tag to the tree. The “wish tags” are removed from the tree intermittently and collected all together in a large box displayed within the second-floor galleries.

In an adjoining gallery Glenn Ligon’s 23-minute video The Death of Tom (2008) plays in a continuous loop. For this project, Ligon had initially intended to create a reconstruction of the last scene of a 1903 silent film adaptation of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. After Ligon’s film was processed, he discovered that the film was blurred and that his original imagery had disappeared. Recognizing an affinity between this spectral film footage and his earlier non-video work dealing with legibility, Ligon left the footage unedited and added a commissioned score played by the jazz pianist Jason Moran, based on the vaudeville song “Nobody.”

The works in the final section, most produced within the last decade, hint at a willful mistranslation of earlier forms of painting and object-making and a critique of artistic practice itself; an ambivalent relationship to any sense of classical order pervades. On view in this section is Huang Yong Ping’s Long Scroll (2001), a 50-foot-long scroll of which 12 feet will be viewable at any one time. A Chinese expatriate who resides in France, Huang uses sources drawn from Western and Chinese art history in order to reveal the polyvalent nature of global modernity. This particular work takes the form of a traditional Chinese scroll and is executed in a style that reveals Huang’s classical training. A kind of self-portrait, the work is a nonhierarchical visual compendium of the artist’s career and wide-ranging influences, including Marcel Duchamp. Also on view is Lucy McKenzie’s untitled painting from 2002, which combines references as diverse as the traditions of socialist mural painting, the Braun appliance logo, bawdy graffiti, and the history of feminist labor. In this vein, painters such as Sergej Jensen take modern painting as both model and myth; Jensen’s torque hemp canvas, Untitled (2008), is an ironic rethinking of the exacting geometric compositions of midcentury modern painters. Gedi Sibony’s sculpture of collapsed vertical blinds, The Middle of the World (2008), suggests the challenges of vision, both literally and metaphorically.

The exhibition concludes with an assembled archive by Paul Chan, related to his restaging of Samuel Beckett’s 1948–49 play Waiting for Godot on the streets of New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina. In assembling an archive rather than producing art objects, Chan stresses the collaborative community-oriented process involved in the project, and shows how, in the face of social, political, and environmental collapse, there might be an antidote to the alienation of contemporary life in such collaborations.

SPONSORSHIP: Contemporary Art from the Collection, one of a series highlighting the Museum’s contemporary collection, is made possible by BNY Mellon.