by Taylor Tracy, Special Issues Editor
Van Gogh, Picasso and Pollock…oh my! A few staff members from The Drew Acorn spent a Saturday afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) last weekend. Writers and editors were on a joint trip to the museum from a Soviet Union history class and a humanities course on the representation of modern cities. Besides all the regular thrills in the permanent collection like Vincent van Gogh’s iconic Starry Night, Monet’s water lilies and works by Frida Kahlo, the staff had the chance to see some provocative shows spanning a variety of media and styles.
Here are the highlights of what the staff saw. Make sure to head into the city to see some of these excellent shows and exhibits before they close. Tight on cash for admission? Entrance to MoMA is free on Friday evenings after 4 p.m.
- “A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Avant-Garde”
On view through March 12, third floor
Both classes went to MoMA to see this show in particularly. Smartly curated and full of mind-bendingly modern art from around the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917, this show celebrates the then-new spirit of industrial modernism and the creation of a “universal” artistic language. See funky works by famous Russian artists like Kazimir Malevich, El Lissitsky, Alexandre Rodchenko and Vladimir Tatlin. The show also features works in a variety of media including photography, sculpture, painting, architectural models, movie posters, children’s books and teacups.
- “Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction”
On view through March 19, sixth floor
Francis Picabia was one of those artists who could do it all. Starting out with a style referred to as “after-the-fact impressionism,” Picabia constantly changed his style throughout his career. He worked in various modernist styles including Cubism, Dada and even dabbled in his own brand of Pop Art. Each gallery feels like a different exhibit its own way. Picabia constantly pushed the boundaries of modernist art and was often criticized for working from photographs for his paintings. This is a great exhibit to start your day at the museum and get acquainted with some of the major artistic movements of the twentieth-century.
- “One and One is Four: The Bauhaus Photocollages of Josef Albers”
On view through April 2, fifth floor
The Bauhaus is known for its influence in the proliferation of International Style architecture and the use of sparse, clean, rectilinear lines. However, this small show in an alcove off of the fifth floor permanent collection galleries adds a human touch to this seemingly sterile and industrial movement. The exhibit sheds light on the people and artists behind Bauhaus, showing them laughing, smiling and enjoying life while still making art that stays true to the core principles of their movement.
- “Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency”
On view through April 16, second floor
A blend of photography and film, this is a show that is not to be missed. Only the second time Goldin’s piece has been displayed in the United States, “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency” is a gritty look into underground gay and drug culture in New York City during the early- to mid-eighties. Check out some photographs from her video project in the first two galleries and then step into the theater and enjoy the film version. Simultaneously enthralling and repulsive, this is not a show you will want to miss.
- “The Shape of Things: Photographs from Robert B. Menschel”
On view through May 7, second floor
While at MoMA, take advantage of viewing their strong photography collection. Currently on view on the second floor is a survey of photographic works obtained the museum from Robert B. Menschel. While not a comprehensive survey of all of photography’s history, this is a chance to see some big names like William Henry Fox Talbot, Charles Marville, Diane Arbus, Weegee and Berenice Abbott among others. Brilliantly curated to show new and old together, this show raises important and valuable questions about what photography can do, where it came from and how it has evolved and changed over time in terms of both format and content. This show is definitely a great place to start if you’re interested in learning more about photography.
Bonus: “Dust Gathering: An Audio+ Experience by Nina Katchadourian”
Available through April 21, various locations
Have some extra time and want to learn more about dust? Bring your headphones and download the MoMA mobile app or snag one of those schnazzy audio devices from the lobby to take this fun and informative audio tour. The tour directs you to different areas of the museum to listen to various interviews with staff and curators talk about the management of dust and air quality in the museum. Whether it’s your first time at MoMA or you’re a regular, this tour will offer a different perspective on how museums operate and the art inside them as well.
So what are you waiting for? Head into the city and check out these exhibitions at MoMA. You never know what you might find or learn at this diverse, boundary-pushing museum.