On the Horizon at MoMA: Communism, Feminism, Prints and Performance Art

09/22/2011 11:30 AM |

Left to right: Diego Rivera, Sanja Ivekovic and CIndy Sherman will all have solo shows at MoMA in the next six months.
  • Left to right: Diego Rivera, Sanja Ivekovic and CIndy Sherman will have solo shows at MoMA in the next six months.

Yesterday morning the Museum of Modern Art hosted its seasonal press breakfast, in which we get much-coveted information about the museum’s upcoming fall, winter and spring exhibitions (also, breakfast). MCing the proceedings, museum director Glenn D. Lowry prefaced the exhibition details with some words about the future of MoMA’s expansion into the planned Tower Verre next-door, and the fate of the recently acquired adjacent American Folk Art Museum building.

On the topic of both buildings Lowry said that currently there is “nothing happening.” The developer of the 1,000-foot-tall Tower Verre recently secured the various permits needed to start construction, and now is securing funds for the development. As far the AFAM building purchase, he said it was “opportunistic to be sure… If your neighbor’s land comes up for sale, whatever happens to it will not be good for you.” But MoMA hasn’t begun to think about possible uses for the building, Lowry said, and the AFAM is still in the process of moving out.

However anticlimactic that news was, the upcoming exhibition schedule more than made up for it. In November the museum will bring back seven of the eight portable murals that it commissioned from Mexican muralist Diego Rivera in 1931. Several are held by public collections in New York (including MoMA’s), but a few have ended up in far-flung places, and one remains missing. Not only a nice nod to institutional history—the Rivera murals were MoMA’s second-ever solo show after it opened in 1929—Diego Rivera: Murals for The Museum of Modern Art (November 13—May 14) is timely given its historical and political context. The exhibition’s curator Leah Dickerman, sitting next to me during the breakfast, said: “The murals were made in a climate very similar to today, in the middle of the Great Depression with American unemployment at 25 percent.”

Next curator Roxana Macoci introduced her retrospective of Zagreb-born artist Sanja Ivekovi√Ą‡, Sweet Violence (December 18—March 26), the artist’s first solo show at a U.S. museum. Though spanning many media, from video, performance, photography, installation and sculpture, her work is overt in its political and feminist agenda. Pieces on view will span the 70s to this year, and include seminal works like the disturbing performance of collapses “Practice Makes a Master” (1982/2009) and “Lady Rosa of Luxembourg” (2001), a modified war memorial topped by a very pregnant statue that she controversially installed in central Luxembourg near an actual war memorial. The latter piece will occupy the MoMA atrium.

DeLuxe (2004-05) by Ellen Gallagher. (Courtesy Whitney Museum)
  • “DeLuxe” (2004-05) by Ellen Gallagher. (Courtesy Whitney Museum)

In the new year half of the museum’s sixth floor will host Print/Out: Multiplied Art in the Information Era (February 19-May 14), whose curator Christophe Cherix explained that the show features many serialized works by artists exploring the limits of various print-making techniques. These will include Rirkrit Tiravanija‘s immense and amended reproduction of his passport, Superflex’s copyright-circumventing DIY lamp workshop and Ai Weiwei’s “Black Cover Book” (1994) and Ellen Gallagher’s 60-piece print project “DeLuxe” (2004-05, pictured).

The other side of the sixth floor will house MoMA’s most hotly anticipated show of 2012, its massive 180-piece Cindy Sherman retrospective (February 26-June 11). As co-curator Eva Respini (with Lucy Gallun) noted during her introduction, this exhibition will diverge somewhat from previous Sherman surveys in that the installation won’t be strictly chronological. Certain series will be shown in their entirety in dedicated rooms—the Untitled Film Stills (1977—80), the history portraits (1989—90)—while others will mix photographs from different series according to themes like fashion, the abject, and fairy tale, mythic and carnivalesque imagery. The exhibition will span the 70s to Sherman’s latest work, including her portraits of aging society women from 2008 and her first foray into installation from this year’s Venice Biennale. In a nod to the pervasive and enduring influence of cinema on Sherman’s practice, she’ll be curating a film series of movies from MoMA’s permanent collection. A major catalogue to accompany the show will feature not only several new essays on her work but best of all, an interview with the fairly reclusive artist by John Waters.

Also on the radar at MoMA: a new media lounge where the museum’s entire digital collection will eventually be available for browsing, the 40th anniversary of the Projects series, the latest re-shuffling of the second floor contemporary galleries to focus on global art movements from the East Village in the 80s onward and, as part of Performa 11, a public reading of transcripts from 18 Combatant Status Review Tribunals conducted by U.S. armed forces at Guantanamo Bay.

MoMA PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach was also on hand to offer a quick overview of that institution’s planned exhibitions, which include: Anthology (November 13-March 12), a major exhibition of performances devised by Clifford Owens and performed by 26 invited African-American artists; an exhibition by new media artist Frances Starck; and the first posthumous retrospective of the just-deceased renowned filmmaker, painter and sculptor George Kuchar, which the institution began planning with the director before his untimely death.