Tag Archive | moma

Modern Art Monday Presents: Woman Dressing Her Hair Pablo Picasso

Woman Dressing Her Hair Pablo Picasso By Gail Worley
Photo By Gail

Pablo Picasso created this work, Woman Dressing Her Hair (1940) in the months prior to the German occupation of Royan, France, where he fled from Paris as the Nazis advanced across Europe. He depicted a woman inside a boxlike room barley bigger than her body; her massive figure is awkwardly compressed and her contorted body juts this way and that. Transforming a familiar and typically serene subject in art history — a woman grooming herself — into a powerful grotesque, Picasso lent expression to the anxiety and confinement that attended this dark period.

Photographed at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Maria Freire, Untitled (1954)

Maria Freire Untitled 1954 By Gail Worley
Photo By Gail

“At the start of the fifties, Uruguayan artist Maria Freire (19172015) recalled, “I abandoned figuration for the perspective of the imagination, anxious to create a new space.” To develop her own style of abstraction, she initially experimented with sculpture, creating virtual volumes through a single, dynamic line. Complex spatial effects also characterize her abstract paintings, such as this Untitled piece from 1954. Though free of perspective, Freire’s painted interwoven forms seem to recede, even dance, in an ambiguous space in tension with the painting’s flat surface.

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Joseph Cornell, Taglioni’s Jewel Casket

Joseph Cornell Taglionis Jewel Casket By Gail Worley
All Photos By Gail

The first of dozens of boxes Joseph Cornell made in honor of famous ballerinas, Taglioni’s Jewel Casket (year) pays homage to Marie Taglioni, an acclaimed 19th-century Italian dancer. According to legend, Taglioni kept an imitation ice cube in her jewelry box to commemorate dancing in the snow at the behest of a Russian highwayman (a traveling thief). The box is infused with erotic undertones — both in the tactile nature of the materials (glass cubes, velvet, and a rhinestone necklace purchased at a Woolworth’s dime store in New York) and in the incident itself, in which Taglioni reportedly performed on an animal skin placed across the snowy road.

Joseph Cornell Taglionis Jewel Casket Photo By Gail Worley

Although he spent his entire artistic career living and working in Queens, New York, Cornell drew inspiration from the European art he saw at the Julien Levy Gallery — the first in the United States to exhibit Surrealist work — and he often inspired the European Surrealists in turn. In a press release for a 1939 exhibition of Cornell’s work at the Levy Gallery, Salvador Dalí heralded it as “the only truly Surrealist work to be found in America.”

Joseph Cornell Taglionis Jewel Casket By Gail Worley

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Modern Art Monday Presents: John Kane, Self Portrait

John Kane Self Portrait
Photo By Gail

While Self Portrait (1929) realistically depicts John Kane’s body in his late sixties — detailing his veins, chest hair and wrinkles — it is also an object of decorative display, with a frame painted around the canvas edges and arches defining the figure’s head. Rendered in muted colors, the bare-chested artist faces his viewers against a stark background, recalling classic self-portraits and images of Christ. Kane explained, “Chiefly, I am impressed with the works of the old masters. These I cannot study enough.” Working by day as a laborer, Kane could not attend formal art classes, but he devoted much of his spare time to studying and practical painting.

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Yellow Quadrangle By Rhod Rothfuss

Yellow Quadrangle
Photo By Gail

“A painting should be something that begins and ends in itself,” Rhod Rothfuss wrote.  With this cut-out frame, the artist put his principle into practice: in Yellow Quadrangle (Cuadrilongo Amarillo, 1955) the slender yellow rectangle on the left juts out, and the support takes on the shape of the painting itself . While his work was indebted to that of Joaquin Torres-Garcia and to European abstract artists such as Mondrian, Tothfuss was also influenced by vernacular practices. The alkyd resin present in this work was also used by the artist to create floats for carnival parades in his native Montevideo.

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Francis Bacon, Painting

Painting By Francis Bacon
Photo By Gail

Created in the aftermath of World War II, Painting (1946) is likely a veiled portrait of Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who often carried an umbrella and has gone down in history for his policy of accommodation of the Nazi regime. His dark suit is punctuated by a bright yellow boutonniere, yet his bared teeth and concealed gaze suggest brutality. This sense of menace is accentuated by the cow carcasses suspended behind him. The drawn window shades evoke those found in a widely circulated photograph of Hitler’s bunker, an image that Francis Bacon included in mulipleworks. Bacon claimed that this work was an accident; he had originally set out to paint a bird descending onto a field.

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Jacques Villegle, 122 Rue Du Temple

122 Rue Du Temple
Photo By Gail

122 Rue Du Temple is the Paris address from which artist Jacques Villegle detached many of the movie posters and political notices that he used to make this work in 1968. After tearing fragments of the original images, he pasted these passages of color, text, and image into a chance composition. Many of the fliers used here announced the city’s May 1968 student and worker demonstrations, and the artist considered the people who had posted them to be his collaborators, understanding their use of advertising billboards as a precursor for his process.

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC

Modern Art Monday Presents: Antonieta Sosa, Visual Chess

Visual Chess
Photo By Gail

For Venezuelan artist Antonieta Sosa, Ajedrez Visual(Visual Chess), 1965, was “like my spinal column or my umbilical cord, uniting me to painting.” Scattered pops of color interrupt the regularity of the black grid, animating it with the playful movement suggested by the work’s title.

At times, these contrasting hues prompt an optical flickering or afterimage. To Sosa, such retinal effects underscore vision as a dynamic physiological process. Thus, Visual Chess foreshadows her eventual decisions to “come down from the wall” to engage with real space and bodies in the form of sculpture, performance and installations.

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Eye On Design: Best Products Showroom Exterior Panels

Panel from Best Products Showroom
Photo By Gail

These porcelain-enameled steel panels once clad the exterior of  Best Products catalogue showroom in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. Featuring a cheery floral pattern, they evoke both mass-market chintz textiles and Pop artist Andy Warhol’s silkscreened canvases. The building’s billboard-scale graphics and signage made it highly visible from the roadway — an improbable meadow springing from a suburban parking lot. During the 1970s, Best Products‘ founders commissioned firms like Venturi and Roach, and SITE (Sculpture in the Environment) to design architecturally novel, often whimsical showrooms that set the chain apart from its competitors.

Best Products Showroom
Installation View: Best Products Showroom Exterior

The ornamental big-box store exemplifies the postmodern architectural concept of the “decorated shed,” introduced by Venturi and Scott BrownRobert Venturi’s firm with his wife, Denise Scott Brown — (with co-author Steven Izenour) in Learning from Las Vegas, their influential 1972 text on the built environment. The decorated shed describes any generic structure that relies on applied ornament and signs to convey its purpose.

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Expansion in Four Directions By Max Bill

Expansion in Four Directions
Photo By Gail

This painting, Expansion in Four Directions (1961 – 62), shares its lozenge shape and geometric divisions of color with many paintings by Piet Mondrian, whose work Max Bill (19081994) collected and in whom he was greatly interested. Bill trained at the Bauhaus in the 1920s under Josef Albers and was an architect and graphic designer as well as an artist. In his work, he aimed to transcend personal artistic expression to achieve universal communication, and to this end he used mathematics as a neutralizing compositional device.

The subject of an exhibition at the Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo in 1950 and winner of the grands prize for sculpture at the Sao Paulo Bienal in 1951, he helped to introduce a generation of Latin American artists to European geometric abstraction. Bill designed the catalogue for a 1955 Mondrian exhibition at the Zurich Kusthaus and lent to it three Mondrian paintings in his collection.

Photographed at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.