The Cinemagicians: Kentridge and Melies

Article: The Cinemagicians: Kentridge and Melies

I caught up with the shows at the MOMA last weekend, including the William Kentridge exhibit. A show that grapples with heavy subjects like apartheid and colonialism, Kentridge’s animated charcoal drawings get smudged, erased, and redrawn to tell stories about characters that are often heavy, egotistical and morally adrift. Kentridge said, “I am interested in a political art, that is to say an art of ambiguity, contradiction, uncompleted gestures and uncertain endings. An art in which optimism is kept in check and nihilism at bay.” My favorite part of the exhibit however was where the weighty politics of the stories disappeared and Kentridge does seem to let loose with a cinematic fun that is both surprising and welcome…

More at MoMA

Article: More at MoMA

Marina Abramovic’s astonishing retrospective and mesmerizing performance at the MoMA (reviewed here by Perrin and Patrick) has earned a lot of buzz, and I highly encourage you to visit, however while visiting be sure to also check out two interactive installations that will bring a smile and sense of wonderment. The first is Yin Xiuzhen’s extended van sculpture “Collective Subconscious” which the public can enter and “find a cozy refuge complete with low stools and soft pop music—a space that invites visitors to break the silence of the hushed gallery, reinventing it as a place for conversation and discussion.” The second piece is Ernesto Neto’s “Navedenga” where “visitors are invited inside its hollow chamber to engage their visual, tactile, and olfactory senses.” I went this past Saturday and the sensations felt at both installations must be experienced in person. After the jump are some photos.

Marina Abramovic at MoMA

Article: Marina Abramovic at MoMA

In the MoMA’s Atrium Marina Abramovic sits at a wooden table dressed in a high-necked, long-sleeved navy blue dress that gathers in a pool of fabric at her feet. She’s lit on all sides by 5ks – big, bright, hot lights. Her face is serene and statuesque, her gaze completely focused, and you’re welcome to take the chair on the other side of the table and sit with her for as long as you like.

Meanwhile the rest of her retrospective, “The Artist is Present,” is happening upstairs, and really, it’s a happening.

William Kentridge at MoMA

Article: William Kentridge at MoMA

After William Kentridge graduated from art school in South Africa, he decided to study theatre and mime in Paris, but “was fortunate to discover that [he] was a bad actor…and was reduced to an artist.” His hopes of acting may not have panned out, but it’s no wonder that performance is such a big part of his work as the latest exhibition at the MoMA highlights. “Five Themes” surveys the last three decades of Kentridge’s work, which includes print, books, collage, drawing, sculpture, animation and performance art. The themes tend to revolve around political movements like the first South African democratic election in 1994 to projects like “The Nose,” Kentridge’s most recent undertaking.

Time-lapse Richard Serra at MoMA

Article: Time-lapse Richard Serra at MoMA

The MoMA’s digital media team’s initial inchoate forways into producing and sharing content online of their exhibitions involved time-lapse videos of the installations of various pieces. Their first attempt was this recording of the installation of a Richard Serra steel sculpture in the museum’s Sculpture Garden in 2007. [Via]

Film Forum turns 40

Article: Film Forum turns 40

Bruce Weber’s 1988 LET’S GET LOST, one of 30 films in the Film Forum screening at MoMA. When Film Forum opened in 1970 in Manhattan’s Upper West Side it operated with one projector, 50 folding chairs and a $19,000 annual budget, but when Karen Cooper was hired on as director in 1972, things changed. Now,…

James Victore at MoMA

Article: James Victore at MoMA

It is not everyday that you venture to the Museum of Modern Art and you stumble upon work you own. It is ever crazier when the artist is a friend. This happened to me last week. While I strolled through MoMA to see wonderful exhibits on both Tim Burton and the Bauhaus I came towards the elevator. And there lining the wall were four posters designed by my pal James Victore. I was shocked!

The View From Here

Article: The View From Here

Clockwise from upper left: Larry Sultan, “My Mother Posing for Me,” (1984) Henry Wessel, “Southern California,” (1985) William A. Garnett, “Contour Graded Hills, Ventura County, California” (1953) and Ansel Adams, “Clouds, from Tunnel Overlook, Yosemite National Park, California” (1934)

Children growing up everywhere, in the middle of nowhere, middle America or in the backwoods of the Northeast all have specific visions of California. Of all the states in the country, why California? Why do people I meet today tell me how when they were children all they wanted to do was go to California? One reason: photography. Whether their impressions are of the Ansel Adams variety or the vastly more popular surfer/life guard/beach bum/eternal party culture California, they can all be traced back to specific images from photography both low (think neon bikini postcards) and high.

A Tim Burton ancestor: the hugable somnambulist

Article: A Tim Burton ancestor: the hugable somnambulist

As part of the Tim Burton show at the MOMA (showing through April 26th), they are exhibiting a series of films called “Tim Burton and the Lurid Beauty of Monsters.” These are films that according to the MOMA staff have “… influenced, inspired, and intrigued Burton, and which reflect the motifs, themes, and sensibilities of his work.” Just scanning the list of monsters, mummies and evil villains, one of them caught my eye. THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, a landmark German Expressionist film directed by Robert Wiene in 1920. One of my favorite early films, it’s a visual journey into a bold and hyper non-realistic world, with geometrical and striking high contrast sets. The backgrounds are often absurd and light and shadows are painted on walls and floors. It’s as if we’ve stepped into an insane but brilliant artist’s point of view. No wonder Burton was inspired by this film.

MoMA: The New Typography

Article: MoMA: The New Typography

Graphic design has undergone many incarnations in the last century, but before even Alexey Brodovitch’s name rang any bells in the United States, the so-called New Typography movement was taking hold in countries like Germany, Russia and Czechoslovakia. Modernist designers rejected the traditional two or three column layout for text and instead of working from a grid, they began instead from the blank page. Free from constraints, images moved across the plane, often with little adherence to spatial relationships. But before image and line came into play, typography was at the forefront of the design revolution, and leading the pack was designer and author of the seminal book, “Die Neue Typographie” (1928), Jan Tschichold.

Jacques Tati, new 35mm at MoMA

Article: Jacques Tati, new 35mm at MoMA

Some things never get old. I’ve seen MR. HULOT’S HOLIDAY at least 2 dozen times and I still laugh out loud during the tennis racket scene. The same goes for PLAYTIME, the first of six newly struck and lovingly restored 35mm prints of Jacques Tati’s films, now being screened at MoMA. PLAYTIME was a phenomenal flop when it was first released in 1967, but Tati’s radical use of sound, color and meticulously choreographed, city street chaos make it my personal favorite. By 1967, Tati had been playing the beloved Mr. Hulot for 14 years and he was ready to try something new, but audiences weren’t yet ready to let go. In fact, Tati wasn’t going to include Hulot in PLAYTIME at all, but without him he couldn’t secure much-needed funding for the film, money that Tati quickly blew on his outrageously costly set design.

Comedy, Italian style

Article: Comedy, Italian style

Still from IL SORPASSO (THE EASY LIFE) (1962) If you’re still recovering from post-THE ROAD depression, head over to MoMA for a week of Dino Risi’s smart, if bitter, comedies. Kicking things off is SCENT OF A WOMAN (1974) – that’s the original, not the 1992 Pacino remake. If Risi can make light of a…


Article: More Tim Burton: PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE

It’s a strange thing to reach adulthood and see, for the very first time, a film everyone else saw before they hit puberty. For me that film is PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE. I’m not going to lie; When I was a kid, Pee-wee really freaked me out. I thought he was creepy and weird and unnecessarily loud. But as part of Tim Burton’s retrospective, MoMA is screening all of his films, starting last night with PEE-WEE, his 1985 feature film debut. After Paul Reubens saw FRANKENWEENIE (a full-length remake is due out in 2011) he chose Burton to direct PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE, which had, until that point, been a stage-show at the Roxy in L.A. and of course, an HBO special.

Everything Tim Burton

Article: Everything Tim Burton

Tim Burton fans came out in droves to the opening of his retrospective yesterday at MoMA. Dressed in red and black stripes and lace and crazy hats – even painted on stitches – they were hard to miss. And with the massive collection of drawings, set pieces and video I doubt they left disappointed. To get to the actual exhibit you have to walk through the mouth of one of Burton’s classic freak show creations, down a hallway lit only by TV screens playing his animated series “The World of Stainboy.” At the end of the hallway is a dark room lit by black-lights where some of his glow-in-the-dark pieces are on display.

Bauhaus at MoMA

Article: Bauhaus at MoMA

A lot of things separate Bauhaus from other art movements. It’s the only one (that I can think of anyhow) that values control, precision and rigor as necessary qualities in both the art and its maker, perhaps because it began as an actual, physical institution. But it’s also one of the few movements that changed so quickly in so short a time. In 1919 the students’ projects were less about function and more about form: paintings by artists (and professors) like Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, textiles woven into patterns reminiscent of Native American blankets and pottery crafted by artisans that did not conform to 90 degree angles. These works served no other purpose than to be hung on a wall or put on a shelf to be looked at.

MoMA's rejection letter to Warhol

Article: MoMA's rejection letter to Warhol

From the archives, check out this letter dated October 19, 1956 by the first director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art to Andy Warhol informing the pop artist that the museum was regretfully rejecting his generously free gift of his drawing entitled “Shoe.” The letter is currently part of the Andy Warhol Museum’s archives…

P.S.1 goes back to 1969

Article: P.S.1 goes back to 1969

Swingeing London 67, Richard Hamilton

1969 was a big year; so big, in fact, that people like me, who weren’t alive at the time, have vicarious memories of what it was like. Things like Vietnam, Civil Rights, sexual revolution, and the moon landing spring to mind. To commemorate not only the year itself, but its lasting impact on artists today, P.S.1 has devoted its entire 2nd floor to what it meant to live in 1969. “By juxtaposing the meditative space of the white cube gallery of the transplanted MoMA exhibition with the tumult of the outside world, 1969 reflects the expansive concerns held by artists of the time” like Lee Friedlander, Gary Winogrand, Robert Irwin, Joseph Beuys, Robert Morris and Sol LeWitt, including brand new work from Bruce Nauman, Mel Bochner and Robert Barry.

Spike Jonze: The First 80 Years

Article: Spike Jonze: The First 80 Years

Spike Jonze planned his upcoming release of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE very well. He seems to be all around us. For starters, the latest issue of Wholphin includes three short Maurice Sendak-based pieces he directed. They’re very DIY (as in not very good) but they’re cute and kooky and serve a purpose, namely, to get us all amped up for the real, long-awaited, much-anticipated thing itself, in theaters Friday.

Not much to look at: conceptual art at the MoMA

Article: Not much to look at: conceptual art at the MoMA

Gilbert and George

Conceptual art can be funny, poignant and clever, but overall, with a few exceptions, I find it to be one of the most visually underwhelming schools of art. I suppose that’s bound to happen when the artist lays out the framework or provides only the idea (the concept) and leaves the rest of the work – in some cases the entire visual element of a piece – to the viewer. It’s curious then that the artist I like best out of the bunch is Lawrence Weiner. It has a lot to do with our mutual love of the letterform, but I also genuinely enjoy thinking (conceptualizing) about the concrete thing his words describe.

Tim Burton at MoMA

Article: Tim Burton at MoMA

This November MoMA will house a major retrospective of Tim Burton’s work. The show, Tim Burton, will showcase his career as a  ”director, producer, writer, and concept artist for live-action and animated films, along with his work as a fiction writer, photographer and illustrator.” It will feature his drawings from early childhood through his most current…

Mad about Arad

Article: Mad about Arad

MoMA will be showing the first ever  major retrospective of designer Ron Arad in the United States starting August 2, 2009. The show will run through October 9, 2009 and will feature the Israeli industrial designer’s furniture, sculpture, and chandeliers for Swarovski, which display text messages from strangers that are sent to the lamps by incorporating light-emitting diodes. Regardless…

Alice wonders Burton and Leibovitz

Article: Alice wonders Burton and Leibovitz

As artists continue to draw inspiration from childhood fears and fairy tales, it comes as no surprise that classic stories like Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (more commonly known as Alice in Wonderland) are being tapped. Coming up on the 2010 film lineup is Tim Burton’s much anticipated ALICE IN WONDERLAND with Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter (who else?), Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, and Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. But Burton is hardly the first to put a unique spin on Carroll’s tale. With the first official photographs of WONDERLAND released last week, photographer-extraordinaire Annie Leibovitz’s editorial for Vogue US December 2003 have “resurfaced,” thanks to the efforts of bloggers everywhere.

The Erotic Object

Article: The Erotic Object

On the fourth floor of the MoMA is a roomful of objects that fit the bill of being both surreal and erotic. Some are obvious, like Giacometti’s smooth, bulging, wooden “Disagreeable Object” (a refreshing departure from his withered little alien people), and some are less so, like Dali’s “Retrospective Bust of a Woman” (That’s the one with an inkwell on top of a baguette on top of a woman’s head). But there was only one object that I was instantly, insatiably attracted to: Meret Oppenheim’s fur-covered cup.

Cruel and Unusual: the art of American slapstick

Article: Cruel and Unusual: the art of American slapstick

Starting tomorrow, for ten days only, the MoMA will screen a collection of uproarious, irreverent, silent, American slapstick comedies, all accompanied by live piano. First up are five short films united by a general cross-dressing theme with silent favorites Stan Laurel, Buster Keaton, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, and Wallace Beery.

Do It Yourself: It Is Greener (and Fun)

Article: Do It Yourself: It Is Greener (and Fun)

We’ve been talking all week about simultaneously going green and saving green. One of the best ways to do so is to take some initiative, and do it yourself. Not only can you save some cash, but can actually improve upon some ideas — think bicycle plus crank generator for your own power generator. Here…