Being Modern: MoMA In Paris

11 Oct 2017 – 5 Mar 2018

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11:00 – 20:00
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Fondation Louis Vuitton presents, in its Frank Gehry-designed building, an exceptional exhibition devoted to the unrivalled collection of the Museum of Modern Art.


Featuring more than 200 renowned masterpieces and less familiar, but highly significant works. This exhibition highlights the pivotal role that MoMA, its curators and its exhibition program have played in the history of art in the 20th and 21st Centuries. Now engaged in a significant expansion and renovation of its building, MoMA has chosen Fondation Louis Vuitton as its partner to bring its legendary artistic heritage to Paris, showcasing its mission to be perpetually modern.

NEW YORK & PARIS, 17th July 2017 — Organised by Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the “Exhibition Being Modern: MoMA in Paris” draws together a superb and far-reaching representation of the highly important artworks that MoMA has acquired since its founding in 1929. Presented from 11 October 2017 to 5 March 2018, the exhibition includes masterworks ranging from the birth of modern art through trends and styles such as American abstraction, Pop art and Minimalism to the most contemporary art.

A multidisciplinary selection of 200 works will occupy the whole of the Fondation’s building. The works are drawn from all six of the MoMA’s curatorial departments, reflecting the history of the institution and the choices it had made in building its collecting.

The exhibition responds to two objectives: to show a significant body of MoMA’s great collection in Paris, and to evoke the more fluid and interdisciplinary installations that visitors to MoMA will encounter following the completion of the expansion and renovation project.

Among the 200 works presented at Fondation Louis Vuitton are masterpieces by Paul Cézanne, Gustav Klimt, Paul Signac, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Giorgio de Chirico, Edward Hopper, Max Beckmann, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, Alexander Calder, René Magritte, Walker Evans, Yayoi Kusama, Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Yvonne Rainer and Frank Stella. The selection will alternate between acknowledged masterpieces and less familiar but nevertheless highly significant artworks. A selection of rarely shown materials from MoMA’s archives, retracing the history of the Museum, will also be incorporated into the galleries.

Some of the works will be shown in France for the first time: Constantin Brancusi’s bronze Bird in Space (1928); Diane Arbus’s Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey (1967); Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962); Philip Guston’s Tomb (1978); (Untitled) “USA Today” by Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1990); 144 Lead Square by Carl Andre (1969); Untitled by Christopher Wool (1990); Untitled (You Invest in the Divinity of the Masterpiece) by Barbara Kruger (1982); and Patchwork Quilt by Romare Bearden (1970).

Bernard Arnault, President of Fondation Louis Vuitton says:
“I wanted Being Modern: MoMA in Paris to fall within the tradition of our previous major exhibitions such as Keys to a Passion, 2015, and Icons of Modern Art, The Shchukin Collection, 2016. All three have been organised in close collaboration with some of the world’s most prestigious international modern art museums. This exhibition marks, once again, our desire to provide the widest possible audience with the opportunity to engage with some of the world’s most remarkable works of art.”

Suzanne Pagé, Artistic Director of Fondation Louis Vuitton and overall curator of the exhibition, says:
“This exhibition has two objectives: to show in Paris works that represent pivotal moments in the history of modern art, while eliciting the impact that the expanded and renovated MoMA will have on the international landscapre.
“Paradoxically, the immense overall success of MoMA means that many interesting particularities about the Museum have been eclipsed. Its almost hegemonic status proposed the idea of a potentially universal art museum – an idea which, as its proponents are aware, has now become outdated.
“The famous ‘canon’ presented in the 1936 manifesto of Alfred H. Barr, the legendary founding director of MoMA, set out two directions based on European precursors: fauvism and cubism, both of which led to abstract art. This canon has become an almost uncontested reference; however, it contradicts certain principles of openness towards other geographical locations, identities and disciplines, which Barr himself also established. These principles are clarified in this exhibition, redefined and redeployed with a new perspective.”

Glenn D. Lowry, Director of MoMA, says, regarding MoMA’s strategy for the coming years:
“The Museum’s dual strategy for the future is to have both integrated galleries and medium-specific galleries.
“The disjunctive nature of modern and contemporary art can—and should—be reflected in the galleries. This means using a collage-like approach, with each gallery telling an independent story, enabling competing and even contradictory relationships to emerge 
instead of trying to present a linear progression of artistic movements or relationships that can never, in fact, be more than an arbitrary abstraction.

“In doing so, we return to one of the founding principles of the Museum: that its interests lie in the various manifestations of a modern aesthetic across multiple disciplines. This is the promise of the idea of a museum of modern art. And while this promise has been contested, revised, and reinterpreted over time—as it will continue to be in the future—it is fundamental to ensuring that the Museum of Modern Art stands for a generous and broad understanding of modern art.”

“Exhibition Being Modern: MoMA in Paris” is co-organised by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, under the direction of Glenn Lowry (director, Museum of Modern Art) and Suzanne Pagé (artistic director, Fondation Louis Vuitton). The curator of the exhibition is Quentin Bajac (The Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz Chief Curator of Photography, MoMA), assisted by Katerina Stathopoulou (Assistant Curator, MoMA) in association with Olivier Michelon (Curator, Fondation Louis Vuitton) for the installation of the exhibition in Paris. The section pertaining to the archives is organised by Michelle Elligott (Chief of Archives, Library, and Research Collections, MoMA).

The selection of artworks and the structure of the exhibition were defined by Glenn D. Lowry and Quentin Bajac, with the support of the various curatorial departments of the Museum. These departments have worked together during the planning of this exhibition to enable discussions, develop comparative approaches and foster openness towards other geographic and aesthetic horizons or potential identities. The project was undertaken in close collaboration with the artistic department of Fondation Louis Vuitton.

Bernard Arnault, President of Fondation Louis Vuitton, is strongly committed to the ‘Exhibition Being Modern: MoMA in Paris’ being shown in Paris. The project has received continual support from Jean-Paul Claverie, Counsellor to Bernard Arnault, and Marie-Josée Kravis, President of the MoMA.

A press conference with Glenn D. Lowry, Quentin Bajac, Jean-Paul Claverie and Suzanne Pagé will take place at Fondation Louis Vuitton on Thursday 7 September 2017 at 11.30am to present the exhibition ‘Exhibition Being Modern: MoMA in Paris’

Associated Programme
A programme of architecture, film, performance and music accompanies the exhibition. Two round-table talks to be held in early January will bring together directors of major international institutions to discuss new challenges being faced by modern and contemporary art museums.
This programme will start on the first day of the exhibition (Wednesday 11 October 2017, at 7 pm) with a discussion between Glenn D. Lowry, MoMA Director, and Elisabeth Diller, founding partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, which has designed the expanded and renovated MoMA building.

The Visit

The exhibition will be spread across four floors of the Fondation Louis Vuitton building. It opens with a room dedicated to ‘the first MoMA’ and ends with a selection of recent acquisitions.
At the time of its creation in 1929, Alfred H. Barr’s version of the MoMA emerged as the prototype of the modern art museum, one that was to define the canon of modernity. Its collections at that time reflected various European art movements – the museum’s inaugural exhibition was dedicated to Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat and Van Gogh. Nonetheless, it almost immediately opened up to contemporary American art (such as Edward Hopper’s House by the Railroad acquired in 1930) and demonstrated a desire to bring different disciplines closer together.

On the pool level, in galleries 1 and 2, the first room assembles works such as Cézanne’s The Bather and Picasso’s The Studio, alongside photographs by Walker Evans, films by Edwin Middleton and several utilitarian, machine-made objects.

The second room presents various European modernist movements such as post-impressionism (Signac, Opus 217); futurism (Boccioni, States of Mind); leading figures of the 20th century (Picasso,Boy Leading a Horse; Matisse, Goldfish and Palette, Paris, Quai Saint-Michel); dadaism (Picabia,M’Amenez-y); surrealism (De Chirico, Gare Montparnasse (The Melancholy of Departure); Dali, The Persistence of Memory; Magritte, The False Mirror) and abstractionism (Mondrian, Composition in White, Black, and Red; Malevich, Suprematist Composition: White on White).

The Museum’s turn towards Central Europe emerges with Klimt’s canvas Hope 2, and the conflicts of the 1930s are evoked through Max Beckmann’s triptych, Departure. Films (Eisenstein, Disney), photographs (Lisette Model, Alfred Stieglitz), and graphic works (Gustav Klutsis) reflect the multidisciplinary nature of the collections.

In the years 1939-1960, the hub of modernity shifted from Europe to the United States. Attention started being focused on abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock (Echo No. 25; The She-Wolf), Mark Rothko (No. 10), Willem de Kooning (Woman I), and Barnett Newman (Onement III).

On the ground floor (gallery 4), Wall Drawing #260, 1975, by Sol LeWitt introduces visitors to two new aesthetics that emerged in the 1960s: minimalist art and pop art. On the one hand, the geometric and minimalist abstraction of Ellsworth Kelly (Colors for a large wall), Frank Stella (The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, II), and Carl Andre (144 Lead Square) can be found here, juxtaposing with the modern architecture of Mies van der Rohe. On the other hand, works of pop art based on serial and repetitive principles and inspired by popular media cultures are also found here, with Andy Warhol (Double Elvis; the Campbell’s Soup Cans; Screen Tests), Roy Lichtenstein (Drowning Girl) and Romare Bearden (Patchwork Quilt), among others.
Also on display are photographic works by Diane Arbus (Identical Twins) and iconic design objects such as the legendary Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar.

On the first floor, galleries 5 and 6 open onto new expressions developed from the mid-1960s onwards, relating to the body and identity. Classic forms are revisited, such as painting (Philip Guston, Christopher Wool) and sculpture (Joseph Beuys, Cady Noland, Felix Gonzales-Torres). The works are radically transformed by the contributions of installation, action and performance, while new techniques, such as video (Bruce Naumann) and light-boxes (Jeff Wall) reformulate creative processes. A new form of image treatment emerges (Barbara Kruger), as well as explorations of other worlds and identities (David Hammons, Juan Downey, Lynn Herslman Leeson).
Dance (Yvonne Rainer), video and performance (Laurie Anderson) subsequently entered the museum space.

Cindy Sherman is present with the complete Untitled Film Stills series comprised of 70 photographs expressing arrangements of her multiple identities.

On the second floor, gallery 8, Measuring the Universe by Roman Ondak testifies to a new relationship between art and the world.
In galleries 9 and 11, a collection of contemporary artworks from all over the world is shown, most of which have been acquired by the MoMA over the past two years. Artists from underrepresented parts of the world (such as Iman Issa, Egypt, and Asli Cavusoglu, Turkey) now find their place.
Painting (Mark Bradford, Rirkrit Tiravanija), sculpture (Trisha Donnelly, Cameron Rowland) and photography (La Toya Ruby Frazier) reflect contemporary issues around form, technology and identity. Lele Saveri’s community oriented, The Newsstand, originally presented in a subway stop in Brooklyn which contains hundreds of self-published and small circulation zines serves as a balancing counterpart to the set of of 176 emoji used on mobile phones every day. Architecture is also featured, with Rem Koolhaas’s projects for Roosevelt Island, New York.
Computing and the internet are also present with the Google Maps Pin by Jens Eilstruo Rasmussen, the stylised “at” sign by Ray Tamlinson, and videogames by Tomohiro Nishikado and Dave Theurer.
In gallery 11, a major video installation by Ian Cheng infinitely reinvents itself, through a self-generating computer programme.
In gallery 10, the exhibition ends on a sound work by Janet Cardiff, Forty-Part Motet (2001), whose specific installation was devised in relation to Frank Gehry’s architecture.

What to expect? Toggle

Exhibiting artistsToggle

Bruce Nauman

Bruce Nauman

Frank Stella

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol

Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse

Ellsworth Kelly

Gustav Klimt

Jasper Johns

Shigetaka Kurita

Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein

Paul Cézanne

Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp

Edward Hopper

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Paul Signac

Yayoi Kusama


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