The Museum Of Modern Art Launches Free Online Course Titled What Is Contemporary Art?

Six-Week Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Explores Art Created between 1980 and the Present, Including Over 70 Artworks from MoMA’s Collection

The Museum of Modern Art has launched the free massive open online course What Is Contemporary Art?, available now on Coursera. This course offers an in-depth look at over 70 works of art from MoMA’s collection—many of which are currently on view in the expanded Museum—from 1980 to the present, with a focus on art produced in the last decade. Learners will hear directly from artists, architects, and designers from around the globe about their creative processes, materials, and inspiration. What Is Contemporary Art? can be found at www.mo.ma/whatiscontemporaryart.

What Is Contemporary Art? is organized around five themes: Media from Television to the Internet, Territories & Transit, Materials & Making, Agency, and Power. These themes are explored through artworks drawn from every curatorial department at MoMA. Examples include 3-D–printed glass and fiber sculptures, performances in a factory and a museum, interventions into televisions and video games, painted portraits and those made with artificial intelligence, and explorations of the body and collective actions, among many others.

The course features four new, original films made with Sheila Hicks, Arthur Jafa, Pope.L, and Rael San Fratello, whose works are currently on view in the Museum. Additionally, the course features 30 audio and email interviews with artists in MoMA’s collection, including Beatriz González, Xiao Lu, Dayanita Singh, Amanda Williams, Sheela Gowda, JODI, and Revital Cohen and Tuur van Balen, among others. Learners will develop a deeper understanding of both artists’ practices today and some of the many ways they respond to pressing issues and questions of our time.

This course was created by MoMA’s Department of Education, in collaboration with curatorial staff including Sean Anderson, Associate Curator, Department of Architecture and Design; Erica Papernik, Associate Curator, Department of Media and Performance; Sophie Cavoulacos, Assistant Curator, Department of Film; Arièle Dionne-Krosnick, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design; and Christian Rattemey.

MoMA has offered free massive open online courses on Coursera since 2012, including three courses for K–12 teachers and courses for general audiences on photography, modern art, abstract painting, and fashion. To date, more than 700,000 learners have enrolled in MoMA courses on Coursera. Since 2011, Volkswagen Group of America has provided crucial support for MoMA’s groundbreaking digital learning initiatives and has helped the Museum reach a worldwide audience of learners. VW’s support has allowed MoMA to expand the reach of its courses from the classroom to digital, and toward interactive, self-guided learning.

VMFA receives more than 8,000 photographs from the Aaron Siskind Foundation

Gift represents the largest single donation of photographs in VMFA’s history; VMFA will take over the administration of the Aaron Siskind Fellowship Prize.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has been given an extraordinary gift of more than 8,000 photographs by Aaron Siskind (1903–1991) from the Aaron Siskind Foundation in New York. Established by the artist in 1984, the foundation’s mission has been to preserve and protect Siskind’s artistic legacy, as well as to foster knowledge and appreciation for photography through research, publications, exhibitions and an annual fellowship prize for individual artists. The foundation recently decided to dissolve its operations and transfer the collection to an American art museum that would be willing to administer the annual fellowship prize and care for, interpret, and display the foundation’s core collection of Siskind’s photographs. VMFA was awarded this major gift thanks to the museum’s demonstrated commitment to photography and its outstanding fellowship program. The transfer of the collection to VMFA took place on January 1, 2020.

Aaron Siskind (American, 1903-1991), Gloucester, 1944, Gelatin silver print, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,
Gift of the Aaron Siskind Foundation, 2019 © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA.

After a thorough search of the major art institutions across the country, the Aaron Siskind Foundation was delighted to find that the visionary leadership, ambitious plans for the future, and commitment to carrying on Aaron Siskind’s legacy made VMFA the ideal choice as the new and permanent home for the collection and administration of the Siskind Prize,” says Victor Schrager, President of the Aaron Siskind Foundation.

With this remarkable donation from the Aaron Siskind Foundation, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts owns what Siskind and his colleagues considered to be the finest prints of every important work he ever made,” says VMFA Director and CEO Alex Nyerges.Comparable to the key sets of Paul Strand’s photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Alfred Stieglitz’s photographs at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., this gift also allows VMFA to become an important center for the study and appreciation of Siskind’s life and work, as well as photography in general.

The son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Siskind was born and raised in New York City and graduated from the College of the City of New York in 1926. Three years later, Siskind received a large-format view camera as a wedding gift when he married Sidonie Glatter. He took his first photographs with this camera on their honeymoon in Bermuda in 1930. Siskind later joined the Film and Photo League in New York. Inspired by the social documentary photography that he saw at the Film and Photo League, Siskind spent the next decade working as a street photographer, most notably producing his acclaimed Harlem Document series. In the early 1940s, he shifted to more abstract and symbolic work, often based on found objects.

Siskind supported himself by teaching in the New York public school system until 1949, when he resigned and briefly tried to earn his living as a freelance photographer. Unable to do so, Siskind moved to Chicago at the invitation of fellow photographer Harry Callahan, whom he met in the summer of 1950 at Black Mountain College in Asheville, North Carolina, where they both taught photography. Siskind went on to teach photography at the Institute of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago from 1951 to 1970. By the 1950s, his work had become widely associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement thanks to his acclaimed photographs of the walls of buildings, whose flat, variegated surfaces enlivened by peeling paint or the remnants of torn posters provided a visual counterpart to the work of Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning and other painters of the New York School. Siskind’s photographs were shown alongside the paintings of these artists in a series of exhibitions at the Charles Egan Gallery in New York between 1947 and 1951. At a time when photography rarely achieved equality with painting as a fine art, Siskind’s success in the broader New York art scene signaled an important advancement for the medium.

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Cauleen Smith: Mutualities To Open At The Whitney In February

Mutualities, the multidisciplinary artist Cauleen Smith’s first solo show in New York, will open at the Whitney Museum of American Art on February 17. The exhibition includes two films, Sojourner (2018) and Pilgrim (2017), shown in two installation environments newly created for the Whitney, along with a group of new drawings, collectively titled Firespitters (2020).

Image credit: Cauleen Smith, still from Sojourner, 2018. Video, color, sound, 22:41 min. Courtesy of the artist, Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago, and Kate Werble Gallery, New York.

Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, remarked, “We’re delighted to welcome Cauleen Smith back to the Whitney. With their exquisite atmosphere and construction, Sojourner and Pilgrim offer lyrical views of important figures and sites in Black history, and also look toward a shared future. The show builds a beautiful bridge between the other pillars of our spring exhibition program, pointing to the political concerns of Vida Americana and the spiritual uplift of Agnes Pelton.”

Smith (b. 1967)—whose banners were prominently featured at the Museum in the 2017 Whitney Biennial—draws on poetry, science fiction, non-Western cosmologies, and experimental film to create works that reflect on memory and Afro-diasporic histories.

Cauleen Smith is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work draws upon Black radical thought, structural film, poetry, and science fiction. Born in Riverside, California in 1967, she grew up in Sacramento, and earned a B.A. in Cinema from San Francisco State University and an MFA at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Theater Film and Television. At UCLA, she studied with the L.A. Rebellion filmmakers, a group of graduate students who started a Black Cinema movement at the university in the mid-1960s. She has made over 40 films, and her first feature length film, Drylongso (1998), premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival before circulating with acclaim to other film festivals. She has had exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago, ICA Philadelphia, MASS MoCA, the Studio Museum of Harlem, the New Museum, New York, the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, and the Kitchen, New York, and was featured in the 2017 Whitney Biennial. She is the recipient of numerous awards and residencies including the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2007), the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture, Artist Award (2012), the Washington Park Arts Incubator, Arts and Public Life Residency (2013), and the Rauschenberg Residency (2015). She has taught at various universities over the span of the last two decades, and is a Faculty member of Cal Arts School of Art in Los Angeles.

Chrissie Iles, the Whitney’s Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Curator, who has organized the show with Clémence White, senior curatorial assistant, commented, “We are proud to bring together Cauleen Smith’s films, installations, and drawings in an exhibition that articulates an ethics of care, engagement, and generosity. Each element of the show is experienced through another—books written and chosen by poets invited by the artist appear in delicate gouaches; a film tracing a pilgrimage to spiritual sites is bathed in the colored light of the installation surrounding it. The Museum’s recognition of Smith’s long and deeply engaged practice is underlined by our recent acquisition of both films, Sojourner and Pilgrim, which join her banners already in the Whitney’s collection.”

Unfolding across several important sites in Black spiritual and cultural history, the two films in the exhibition weave together writings by women from different eras, including Shaker visionary Rebecca Cox Jackson, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, the Black feminist Combahee River Collective of the 1970s, and experimental-jazz composer and spiritual leader Alice Coltrane, whose music also forms the soundtrack for both films. This gathering of voices enacts a shared Black female subjectivity, the collective strength of which is expressed in Smith’s poetic use of the camera and light as improvisational instruments to reveal how invention, creativity, and generosity can be resources for transformation and regeneration. By placing the title of this exhibition in the plural, Smith draws a connection between the two films while pointing to the idea that what is held in common is never singular.

In Sojourner, a group of women walk in procession through sites including Dockweiler State Beach and Watts Towers in Los Angeles. The women carry translucent orange banners, each emblazoned with part of a text by the jazz composer and spiritual leader Alice Coltrane (1937–2007). Watts Towers, a cluster of seventeen sculptural spires, served as a symbol of hope and regeneration after surviving the 1965 Watts Rebellion unscathed. Smith locates a similar spirit in assemblage artist Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Desert Art Museum in Joshua Tree, California. The women end their procession there, listening to readings of the Black feminist Combahee River Collective, Sojourner Truth (1797–1833), and Alice Coltrane. Their collective voices, echoed in contemporary footage of the Chicago-based activist coalition R3 (Resist. Reimagine. Rebuild.), fuse spirituality and activism into a potent articulation of self-realization and resistance. The actions unfold not only within different sites within the film itself, but in an immersive kaleidoscopic environment of light and seating in the Museum that interconnects the film with a more expansive sense of place and collective presence.

Pilgrim traces the artist’s pilgrimage to three sites: Alice Coltrane’s Turiyasangitananda Vedantic Center in Agoura, California; Watts Towers in Los Angeles; and the Black spiritual activist Rebecca Cox Jackson’s (1795–1871) Watervliet Shaker community in upstate New York. Smith vividly evokes the creative atmosphere of each place, allowing the camera to slowly explore the ashram’s interior and Coltrane’s musical instruments, and using the soft grain and subtle color of Super 8 film to infuse the footage of Watts Towers and the flowers in the Shaker garden with an emotional intimacy. Jackson’s advocacy of racial and gender equality, her fight against the patriarchy of organized religion, and her awareness of the African roots of her faith resonate with Coltrane’s own hybrid, transnational spiritual and musical language. Both women’s challenges to accepted authority are, like the enduring independent spirit of Watts Towers, grounded in a sense of place, community, and generosity that are also hallmarks of Smith’s own transformative work.

The screenings of Smith’s films in High Line Art’s presentation of Signals from Here, organized by Melanie Kress, High Line Art Associate Curator, will take place from dusk until the park closes, on the High Line at 14th Street. The program includes Three Songs About Liberation (2017), Crow Requiem (2015), Lessons in Semaphore (2015), H-E-L-L-O (2014), and Songs for Earth and Folk (2013).

PUBLIC PROGRAM

Screening and Conversation with Cauleen Smith and Michael Gillespie Friday, March 27, 6:30 pm

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Whitney will present a rare screening of Passing Through (1977, 105 min) by LA Rebellion filmmaker Larry Clark, preceded by one of Cauleen Smith’s films. Following the screening, Smith will be in conversation with film scholar Michael Boyce Gillespie, Associate Professor of Film in the Department of Media and Communication Arts and the Black Studies Program at the City College of New York, City University of New York.

Tickets required. ($10 adults; $8 members, students, seniors, and visitors with a disability).

Cauleen Smith: Mutualities is part of the Whitney’s emerging artists program, sponsored by Nordstrom. Generous support is provided by The Rosenkranz Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Artists Council.

"Partnering With Nature" Exhibition To be Presented at the World Economic Forum's 2020 Annual Meeting

On View in the Congress Centre Jan. 21 Through Jan. 24

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has announced that a special exhibition, “Partnering with Nature,” will be on view at the World Economic Forum’s 50th Annual Meeting, Jan. 21 through Jan. 24 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. Drawing from the “Nature—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial” exhibition originally organized by Cooper Hewitt and Cube design museum, this adaptation is a collaboration between the Smithsonian and the World Economic Forum (WEF). This is the fourth year that the Smithsonian and the WEF have collaborated on bringing an exhibition to the Annual Meeting in Davos. Installed in the Congress Centre, the exhibition will be offered alongside panels, workshops and other sessions organized by the WEF that address the ecological crisis and the Forum’s major focus on sustainability.

Department of Seaweed: Living Archive, 2018–ongoing; Julia Lohmann (German, b. 1977), Violaine Buet (French, b. 1977) and Jon Lister (New Zealander, b. 1977); Seaweed and rattan; Dimensions variable; Photo: Pierre-Yves Dinasquet, Department of Seaweed.

A global platform for design, Cooper Hewitt is delighted to once again collaborate with the World Economic Forum and highlight the power of design to address the most significant environmental issues of our time,” said Caroline Baumann, director of the museum. “Through this powerful, interactive exhibition, Cooper Hewitt will invite leaders to rethink our relationship to nature and jumpstart the dialogue on sustainability practices on an international scale.”

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Museum of Arts and Design to Present Major Exhibition of Works by World's Leading Stained-Glass Artist

Brian Clarke: The Art of Light, March 21–August 23, 2020

From March 21 through August 23, 2020, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) will present a major exhibition of works by celebrated architectural artist and painter Brian Clarke (b. 1953, United Kingdom). The first museum exhibition in the U.S. of Clarke’s stained-glass screens, compositions in lead, and related drawings on paper, Brian Clarke: The Art of Light showcases the most considerable artistic and technical breakthrough in the thousand-year history of stained glass.

Museum of Arts and Design

More than twenty stained-glass screens form the centerpiece of the exhibition. Begun in 2015, these works are described by Clarke as “the expression of ideas that started forming in my mind in the 80s. They possess a cinematic drama that, until now, we haven’t had the technology to express.” Produced using advances developed with and for them, the works dispense with the dividing lead support that has been a necessary component of stained glass through most of its existence. Merging the traditional techniques of glassblowing with the artist’s decades of exploration of the medium of glass, the screens are Clarke’s major independent work of the past four years.

Brian Clarke, Flowers for Zaha, 2016. Photo: Fraser Watson.

Brian joins a long and illustrious history of extraordinary glass artists that MAD has championed over the decades and this exhibition will reveal the technological innovation that is integral to Brian’s sublime artistry,” said Chris Scoates, MAD’s Nanette L. Laitman Director. “There is palpable excitement in the art world today for the creative breakthroughs currently happening in media such as glass and I am extremely excited to share what will be an unforgettable encounter with the union of art and design in contemporary stained glass.”

Consistently, Clarke has pushed the boundaries of stained glass, both in terms of technology and its poetic potential, in tandem with his investigations in painting. His practice in architectural and autonomous stained glass has led to successive innovation and invention in the fabrication of the medium and, through the production of leadless stained glass and the creation of sculptural works made primarily or wholly of lead, he has radically stretched the limits of what stained glass can do and express.

Brian Clarke (b. 1953, Oldham, Lancashire, England) is the world’s most widely recognized stained-glass artist. His meteoric rise to prominence in the late 70s—buoyed by the energy of the Punk movement—was as a painter and polemicist championing the integration of art and architecture. Described by Andy Warhol as “the most glamorous artist to come out of England since the sixties,” Clarke lived and worked in New York in the 80s and 90s, where he produced some of the most significant developments in his work. Clarke’s commitment to total art has developed into a Renaissance engagement with multiple media, from painting, sculpture, ceramics, mosaic and tapestry to sets for opera, the ballet, and stadia. His reputation is based on installations and individual works, ranging from intimate to monumental in scale, for hundreds of projects worldwide. Practicing in sacred and secular spaces, he has collaborated on projects and proposals with Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Arata Isozaki, Oscar Niemeyer, Renzo Piano, Future Systems, and other leading figures of Modern and contemporary architecture. Clarke’s work is represented in international public and private collections including the Tate, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Bavarian State Painting Collections, and the Sezon Museum of Modern Art, and has been the subject of exhibitions at international museums including the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague; Munich Stadtmuseum; the Centre International du Vitrail, Chartres; the Corning Museum of Glass, USA; the Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt,Germany; and Vitromusée, Romont. He lives and works in London.

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Conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner Celebrates Beethoven at Carnegie Hall

Sir John Eliot Gardiner Curates Carnegie Hall Perspectives Series Featuring His Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique Performing A Complete Beethoven Symphony Cycle on Period Instruments in Five Concerts, February 19-24

Winter Concerts Are Part of Carnegie Hall’s Beethoven Celebration in Honor of the 250th Anniversary of the Composer’s Birth

This February, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Artistic Director and Conductor of the internationally acclaimed period instrument ensemble Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique (ORR), curates a five-concert Perspectives series at Carnegie Hall, featuring a complete Beethoven symphony cycle performed as part of Carnegie Hall’s season-long celebration of the 250th anniversary year of Beethoven’s birth.

The five New York City concerts by Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique are part of Carnegie Hall’s season-long Beethoven Celebration featuring more than 35 events highlighting the immensity of the composer’s transformative impact on music, performed by a remarkable line-up of internationally renowned musicians.


Grounded in Maestro Gardiner’s exacting study of Beethoven’s original manuscripts, the symphonies will be performed as the composer would have experienced them, played on period instruments, including valveless brass, woodwinds without additional keys and levers, gut strings, and hide-covered timpani struck with hard sticks.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner (www.monteverdi.co.uk)

A key figure both in the early music revival and as a pioneer of historically informed performances, Maestro Gardiner kicks off the ORR’s five-concert series on Wednesday, February 19 at 8:00 p.m. with selections from Beethoven’s rarely heard ballet score, The Creatures of Prometheus; the concert aria, “Ah! perfido;” excerpts from Leonore; and the composer’s Symphony No. 1; Soprano Lucy Crowe joins the orchestra as soloist. On Thursday, February 20 at 8:00 p.m., the orchestra performs Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 and Symphony No. 3, “Eroica.” The series continues Friday, February 21 at 8:00 p.m. with symphonies Nos. 4 and 5. On Sunday, February 23 at 2:00 p.m., the program includes Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral” and Symphony No. 7. For the series’ final concert on Monday, February 24 at 8:00 p.m. the ORR’s Beethoven cycle culminates with the symphonies Nos. 8 and 9, with the orchestra joined by soprano Lucy Crowe, contralto Jess Dandy, tenor Ed Lyon, and bass Tareq Nazmi, alongside The Monteverdi Choir. As a prelude to the cycle, Maestro Gardiner will be joined by distinguished Beethoven scholar William Kinderman for a discussion in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall to illuminate Sir John Eliot’s approach to these symphonic masterworks (Tuesday, February 18 at 7:00 p.m.). In addition to the public discussion with Sir John Eliot on February 18, Carnegie Hall Debs Composer’s Chair Jörg Widmann will present a talk later this spring (Mar. 29, WRH), enabling audiences to gain greater insights into Beethoven’s music.

The ORR’s final February 24 concert will be heard by listeners around the world as part of the ninth annual Carnegie Hall Live broadcast and digital series with a live radio broadcast on WQXR 105.9 FM in New York and online at wqxr.org and carnegiehall.org/wqxr. Produced by WQXR and Carnegie Hall and co-hosted by WQXR’s Jeff Spurgeon and Clemency Burton-Hill, select Carnegie Hall Live broadcasts featured throughout the season include special digital access to the broadcast team, from backstage and in the control room, connecting national and international fans to the music and to each other.

When asked to reflect on thirty years of music making with the ORR and his upcoming Beethoven symphony performances, Sir John Eliot Gardiner said “When we started the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique 30 years ago, our mission statement included trying to recover the world of Beethoven’s sound. Our aim was to provide bold new perspectives on the glorious orchestral works of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Since the ensemble’s inception, we have used our time together productively and creatively to explore fresh approaches to this much-loved music, some of it familiar but also some of it neglected or undervalued. Through the use and mastery of period instruments, the ORR musicians bring out the subtle and pervasive differences in the palette of sounds that composers as different as Beethoven, Berlioz, Schumann, Debussy, and Verdi were committed to revealing. Time and again, the players have shown vision and tenacity in demonstrating the techniques and sounds required to recapture the true essence of this music. Every time we embark on a fresh project together, I am amazed and touched by the way the players seem willing to put their necks on the block in order to bring this music back to intoxicating life once again.”

The Carnegie Hall performances are part of Maestro Gardiner and the ORR’s Beethoven 250, a yearlong celebration of the composer’s milestone anniversary, and are also part of the ORR’s 30th anniversary season. The orchestra’s transatlantic tour, February 9-June 27, also includes engagements and complete symphony cycles at Chicago’s Harris Theater, London’s Barbican Hall, and Barcelona’s Palau de la Música.

Program Information

SIR JOHN ELIOT GARDINER ON THE BEETHOVEN SYMPHONIES

  • Tuesday, February 18, 2020 at 7:00 PM, Weill Recital Hall
  • Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Speaker
  • with William Kinderman, Moderator
  • Robin Michael, Principal Cello
  • Anneke Scott, Principal Horn

BEETHOVEN’S SYMPHONIES AND THE EMPIRE OF THE MIND

Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s groundbreaking interpretations of Beethoven’s music have cast this magnificent body of work in a new light. Joined by distinguished Beethoven scholar William Kinderman and ORR principals Robin Michael and Anneke Scott for this illuminating discussion, Gardiner shares his insights about his approach to this immortal music. Tickets: $25

ORCHESTRE RÉVOLUTIONNAIRE ET ROMANTIQUE

  • Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at 8:00 PM
  • Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
  • Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Artistic Director and Conductor
  • Lucy Crowe, Soprano

ALL-BEETHOVEN PROGRAM

  • Overture, Introduction, and Act I from The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43
  • “Ah! perfido,” Op. 65
  • Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21
  • Leonore Overture No. 1, Op. 138
  • “Ach, brich noch nicht, du mattes Herz!” – “Komm, Hoffnung, lass den letzten Stern” from Act II of Leonore, Op. 72
  • Finale to The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43

Tickets: $32-$105

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Counting Down To Vida Americana, The Whitney Museum of American Art Announces Education And Public Programs To Be Presented In Conjunction With Landmark Exhibition

With approximately 200 works by sixty U.S. and Mexican artists, Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945 will reveal the profound impact of Mexico’s three leading muralists—José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Diego Rivera—on the style, subject matter, and ideology of art in the United States made between 1925 and 1945.


María Izquierdo. My Nieces, 1940. Oil on composition board, 55 1/8 × 39 3/8 in. (140 × 100 cm). Museo Nacional de Arte, INBAL, Mexico City; constitutive collection, 1982 © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City. Reproduction authorized by El Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura, 2019.

Organized by curator Barbara Haskell, with Marcela Guerrero, assistant curator; Sarah Humphreville, senior curatorial assistant; and Alana Hernandez, former curatorial project assistant, Vida Americana will be on view at the Whitney from February 17 through May 17. During a special event held today in the Museum’s lobby, Museum visitors were greeted with a surprise celebration at noon, complete with free ticket giveaways and an Instagram-worthy photo opportunity.

At the event, Haskell highlighted the murals and easel paintings that will be on loan from Mexico, Japan, Argentina, and the United Kingdom for the exhibition. These include works that are rarely exhibited in the United States, including Rivera’s 1932 studies for his destroyed and infamous Rockefeller Center mural, Man at the Crossroads, on loan from the Museo Anahuacalli in Mexico City; María Izquierdo’s My Nieces (1940) and Siqueiros’s Proletarian Mother (1929), on loan from the Museo Nacional de Arte; and two paintings by Japanese-born artist Eitarō Ishigaki, on loan from Japan’s Museum of Modern Art in Wakayama.

Guerrero then discussed the Museum’s ongoing initiative to improve access for Spanish-speaking visitors.

For Vida Americana, a number of resources will be available in both English and Spanish, including all exhibition texts, the mobile guide, exhibition tours, and a Family Guide that will feature texts and in-gallery activities. The guide is available free of charge to all families who visit the Whitney as well as to elementary school-aged students who visit the Museum. The Museum also announced programs being organized by its education department on the occasion of the exhibition, including a full-day symposium featuring artists, curators, educators, and scholars presenting new perspectives on the role of Mexican Muralism in the United States. Other programming highlights include Tours for Immigrant Families, Teen Night, and a Community Partnership Mural Project with The Door and artist Sophia Dawson. Additional details and the full lineup of programs can be viewed below.

By presenting the art of the Mexican muralists alongside that of their American contemporaries, Vida Americana reveals the influence of Mexican art, particularly on those looking for inspiration and models beyond European modernism and the School of Paris, during the interwar period. Works by both well-known and underrecognized American artists will be exhibited, including those by Thomas Hart Benton, Elizabeth Catlett, Aaron Douglas, Marion Greenwood, William Gropper, Philip Guston, Eitarō Ishigaki, Jacob Lawrence, Harold Lehman, Fletcher Martin, Jackson Pollock, Ben Shahn, Thelma Johnson Streat, Charles White, and Hale Woodruff. In addition to Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueiros, other key Mexican artists included in the exhibition include Miguel Covarrubias, María Izquierdo, Frida Kahlo, Mardonio Magaña, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, and Rufino Tamayo. Tickets for Vida Americana are now available at whitney.org.

COMMUNITY AND ACCESS PROGRAMS

Tours for Immigrant Families, Feb 1, March 7, April 4, May 2, 2020

Bring your family to the Museum for a free tour and fun activities! We welcome immigrant families who speak any language and level of English. Spanish-speaking staff will be on the tour and two-trip MetroCards will be provided.

Immigrant Justice Night, April 29, 2020, 6–8 pm

Jointly organized with community partners, the Whitney will host its third Immigrant Justice Night. Join the museum for an evening of resource-sharing and artmaking dedicated to immigrant and undocumented communities. Youth, families, teachers, and community members are invited to connect with NYC immigrant justice organizations, participate in a “know your rights” training and explore Vida Americana. Spanish and English language guided tours of the exhibition will be offered throughout the evening.

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