Saturday, November 23, 2019

Sur Moderno at MoMa

  Sur Moderno at MoMa Since it closed in June 2019 for renovations, art enthusiasts have anticipated the grand reopening of the “New MoMa”. This inauguration does not only introduce an expanded floor plan but also a cultural shift in the museum’s curatorial practices. The exhibit Sur Moderno: Journeys of abstraction (open through March 2020) is part of the museum’s agenda to expand the narrative of the art canon beyond the prevalent Western-northern hemisphere. Consisting of artworks donated by the collector Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, the exhibit dives into the work of South American artists that engaged with modernist ideas of abstraction. As one enters the exhibit, one encounters a foreword by the Argentian group MADI that captures the essence of the exhibit: “Por un arte ESENCIAL - abolida toda figuracion” (For an ESSENTIAL art - abolish all figuration).

       Divided into three chapters (unsteady optics, a revolution of limits, and a modern worldview), museum-goers are shown how modernist abstraction was embraced in South America through art, architecture and home decor. For example, we get a glimpse of the wide creative range of Brazilian visual artist Hélio Oiticica. His prints, which play compositionally with repeating monochrome shapes, are a denunciation of figuration.

The hanging sculptures by Venezuelan artists Gego are a highlight of the exhibit, made primarily of steel, they are like line drawings lifted from a page and made three dimensional. In Reticularea Cuadrada 71/6 (1971) Fragile lines connect to make a grid, a blanket of mostly empty space. Shadows cast on the wall create a ghostly copy of an already frail-seeming arrangement.

Tucked away in a side gallery is Mondrian's abstract classic Broadway Boogie Woogie (1942-43), as it sits comfortably at home with its Latin American comrades, it is a reminder that Modernism, its interest in shape and materiality, was a concept that swept across the globe and was adopted and reinterpreted by many artists.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Stephanie,

    First, would you mind adding a picture or two for reference if you have any?

    Next, I love that you started out explaining the MoMA's new agenda to expand the art canon beyond just western art. However, this explanation takes a whole paragraph, meaning you have less space to describe the actual work in the exhibit. I wonder if there is a way to more concisely do this. For example, the end of the first paragraph talks about the text on the wall that talks about abolishing figuration, and then you mention in the second paragraph how the work in the show seems to have done exactly this. maybe there is a way to more efficiently convey this and allow for more description of the work?

    Also, the last line seemed a bit random. I think it's conveying that the work of a famous artist that is part of the traditionally accepted Western Canon is being relegated to a side gallery and finally being overshadowed by artists' work from other countries. While I think this is a very interesting thing to note, and evidence of progress, I think the sentence is a little strange to end on. Maybe you could put it somewhere earlier, or tie it in a little more? Also, it is not a complete sentence I think. You need a verb such as "sits", or "is hanging" to describe the Mondrian.