Tag Archive | moma

Modern Art Monday Presents: Salvador Dali, The Little Theater

salvador dali the little theater photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail

This illuminated diorama-like construction contains eleven, parallel painted-glass panels. Both pictorial illusion and actual depth produce a sense of receding space, from the proscenium arch of the front panel to the sky on the furthest, with various bizarre objects, figures and scenarios sandwiched in- between.

salvador dali the little theater photo by gail worley

This unusual work may have been Dali’s attempt to recreate “a large, square box” he had seen as a boy: “It was a kind of optical theater, which provided me with the greatest measure of illusion of my childhood. I have never been able to determine or reconstruct  in my mind exactly what art was like.

salvador dali the little theater photo by gail worley

Salvador Dali’s The Little Theater (1934) Was Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Tablon de Pampatar (Pampatar Board) By Alejandro Otero

Pampatar Board By Alejandro Otero Photo By Gail Worley
Photos By Gail

Pampatar Board (1954) heralds the arrival of Colorythms, a series of paintings that, to Venezuelan artist Alejandro Otero (19211991) are “imbued with the constructive meaning given to me by an intimate and passionate contact with architectural rhythm and space.” In the 1950s, Otero worked with architects on several new public projects to modernize Caracas, often contributing his original murals.

Pampatar Board By Alejandro Otero Photo By Gail Worley

This work’s monumental verticality reflects the artist’s interest in modern architecture, while the composition’s rhythmic arrangement of vivid colors, obtained from industrial paints traditionally used on automobiles, conveys the dynamism of modern urban life that inspired Otero.

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Tree of Paradise By Seraphine Louis

tree of paradise by seraphine louis photo by Gail Worley
Photo By Gail

A domestic worker who labored for many years in a convent before becoming a housekeeper, Seraphine Louis (18641942) painted floral motifs on household items, canvases and boards. Her talent was recognized by one of her employers, the German art critic, dealer, and collector Wilhelm Uhde. The title Tree of Paradise (1928) suggests a concern with religious themes, and the work’s arrangement of jewel-like leaves recalls the stained glass windows of Gothic churches. Louis flattened the elements of landscape into a single plane; a tree extends diagonally across water, as grass and sky weave together to create a decorative interplay of patterns.

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Donald Judd Retrospective at MoMA

donald judd at moma photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail

Writing posts about exhibits in museums that are currently closed: this is now a thing that keeps content fresh when there is nowhere to go, unless a walk around the block counts as a cultural event. What can I say about Judd; the ambitious MoMA retrospective of a major force in contemporary art that was open for just over two weeks before Covid-19 temporarily shuttered this and other museums? Mostly, I feel fortunate that I took advantage of an opportunity to attend a Member’s Preview on February 28th, the Friday evening before the exhibit officially opened to the public. I made the trip uptown from my day job on Wall Street after putting in a full day, and I was pretty beat, but I was so excited to see dozens of works of art by Donald Judd all in one place that I figured it would be worth it. And it was.

Donald Judd at Moma Photo By Gail Worley

I’ve been fan of Judd’s minimalist sculpture since I was studying contemporary art in college, so I knew there was no way I was going to miss this exhibit — but I thought I had months to see it. It’s funny how things turn out. If I hadn’t visited MoMA that Friday, I would have likely missed it for sure. And that would have been a shame. It’s lucky also that I took as many photos as I did, because I hadn’t intended to even write about the exhibit, beyond maybe a featured piece or two in a Modern Art Monday column. Everything is different now.

donald judd at moma photo by Gail

Until things are back to some kind of normal, it’s a bit of a consolation that I can still bring my readers Art in the Time of Covid.  For those who aren’t already familiar with the artist’s oeuvre, let me provide you with basic background on Donald Judd and enhance your enjoyment of these exhibit photos by including text from Judd’s webpage at MoMA Dot Org. Enjoy!

donald judd at moma photo by Gail Worley

“I had always considered my work another activity of some kind,” remarked artist Donald Judd. “I certainly didn’t think I was making sculpture.” One of the foremost sculptors of our time, Judd refused this designation and other attempts to label his art: his revolutionary approach to form, materials, working methods, and display went beyond the set of existing terms in mid-century New York.

donald judd at moma photo by Gail Worley

His work, in turn, changed the language of modern sculpture. Bringing together sculpture, painting, drawing, and rarely seen works from throughout Judd’s career, Judd is the first US retrospective in over 30 years to explore this artist’s remarkable vision.

donald judd at moma photo by gail worleydonald judd at moma photo by gail worley

Donald Judd (19281994) began his professional career working as a painter while studying art history and writing art criticism. Among a new generation of artists who sought to move past the breakthroughs of Abstract Expressionism, Judd shifted from two to three dimensions, into what he called “real space,” relinquishing a focus on the artist’s gesture. In his constructed reliefs and wooden floor pieces from this time, he established a new type of object-making that rejected illusion, narrative, and metaphorical content.

donald judd at moma photo by gail worleydonald judd at moma photo by gail worley

By the mid-1960s, Judd commenced his lifelong practice of using industrial materials, such as aluminum, steel, and Plexiglas, and delegating production of his work to local metal shops. With the help of these specialized fabricators, he developed a signature vocabulary of hollow, rectilinear volumes, often arranged in series. In the following years, “boxes,” “stacks,” and “progressions” continued as Judd’s principal framework to introduce different combinations of color and surface.

donald judd at moma photo by gail worleydonald judd at moma photo by gail worley

Judd surveys the complete evolution of the artist’s career, culminating in the last decade of his life, when Judd intensified his work with color and continued to lay new ground for what ensuing generations would come to define as sculpture.

donald judd at moma photo by gail worley

donald judd at moma photo by gail worley

Judd was originally scheduled to run through July 11th, 2020, and I imagine there’s a slim chance the museum could reopen in time for people to still see this exhibit. But who can even say at this juncture.

donald judd at moma photo by gail worleydonald judd at moma photo by gail worley

Should the Donald Judd retrospective at MoMA still be on exhibit once the museum reopens, I enthusiastically encourage you to check it out. The museum is limiting the number of guests who can enter the galleries at one time, so that will definitely enhance your enjoyment of these unique, large scale works of art. Personally, I found the experience to be very zen, and heaven knows we will all be in need of both zen and art once this crisis is over.

donald judd at moma photo by gail worleydonald judd at moma photo by gail worleydonald judd at moma photo by gail worleydonald judd at moma photo by gail worley

Modern Art Monday Presents: Inseparable Friends By Morris Hirshfield

Inseparable Friends Photo By Gail Worley
Photo By Gail

Morris Hirshfield (18721946) began to paint at the age of 65, after retiring from a career making women’s coats, suits and slippers. The flattened, decorative forms of Inseparable Friends (1941) echo his garment-making work. Without distinguishing between the floor and the wall, Hirshfield creates a room  through thee planes of shapes and patterns: the women at their mirror, the tasseled curtain above them, and the plant and shoes at their feet. While Hirshfield’s compositions are simplified and stylized, he aimed for meticulous, realistic detail and believed that his figures represented the human body “better than the camera can do.”

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Cyril Edward Power, Speed Trial

Speed Trial
Photo By Gail

This linoleum cut print, Speed Trial (1932), was inspired by Bluebird, a race car that reached a velocity of 246 miles per hour at Daytona Beach, Florida in 1932, breaking the land-speed record. Artist Cyril Edward Power (18721951) used rhythmic, repetitive curves to conjure the rushing motion of the aerodynamic vehicle. He printed the image using three layers of color: light blue, dark blue, and green. He stipulated that the dark blue should be printed “dark on bonnet, paling to tail” — a graded passage that emphasizes the engine, at the front of the car, as the source of its power.

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

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.