Tag Archives: Museum of Modern Art

LAWLER, QUAYTMAN, AND ROWLAND AT BUCHHOLZ

When Metro Pictures asked me to do a show in 1982, they already had an image. They represented a group of artists whose work often dealt with issues of appropriation and was often spoken of and written about together. A gallery generates meaning through the type of work they choose to show. I self-consciously made work that “looked like” Metro Pictures. The first thing you saw when you entered my show, Arrangements of Pictures, was an arrangement of works the gallery had on hand by “gallery artists” Robert Longo, Cindy Sherman, Jack Goldstein, Laurie Simmons, and James Welling. A wall label titled it “Arranged by Louise Lawler.” It was for sale as a work with a price determined by adding up the prices of the individual pieces, plus a percentage for me. I went to the collectors to whom Metro had sold work and photographed the Metro artists’ works in those contexts. I printed the resulting images a “normal” picture size and titled them “arrangements,” too—for example, “Arranged by Barbara and Eugene Schwartz, New York City.” The Metro situation at that time formed that work, and it also formed a way of working for me. — Louise Lawler*

Invited to exhibit together for the first time, Louise Lawler, R. H. Quaytman, and Cameron Rowland present new work along with selected older pieces for a group show in Cologne, now in its final week.

LOUISE LAWLER, R. H. QUAYTMAN, CAMERON ROWLAND

Through October 24.

Galerie Buchholz

Neven-DuMont-Strasse 17, Cologne.

*“Prominence Given, Authority Taken: An Interview with Louise Lawler by Douglas Crimp,” in Louise Lawler: An Arrangement of Pictures (New York: Assouline, 2000).

Louise Lawler, R. H. Quaytman, Cameron Rowland, Galerie Buchholz, September 4, 2020–October 24, 2020, from top: Louise Lawler, Water to Skin (catalogue size), 2016/2017, digital Fujiflex print face mounted to Plexiglas on museum box (The Swimming Pool, 1952, Henri Matisse, gouache on paper, cut and pasted on painted paper, installed as nine panels in two parts on burlap-covered walls, photographed at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City); Louise Lawler, Water to Skin (traced), 2016/2020, vinyl adhesive wall material (the work is as a tracing by Jon Buller available as a PDF vector file for production and installation at any scale as an adhesive wall graphic); Louise Lawler, Corner (distorted for the times, perturbée), 2014/2018, digital Fujiflex print face mounted to Plexiglas on museum box (A work by Jean-Michel Basquiat photographed at Yvon Lambert’s office, 108 Rue Vieille du Temple, Paris); Cameron Rowland, Management, 2020, time horn clock; Cameron Rowland, Out of Sight, 2020, 19th-century slave iron, 19th-century slave iron with missing rattle; R.H. Quaytman, Spine, Chapter 20 [Fraser, Anastas, Lawler], 2010, oil, silkscreen ink and gesso on wood (featuring the silkscreened image of Andrea Fraser viewing Louise Lawler’s The Princess, Now the Queen—utilized in four paintings from Painters Without Paintings and Paintings Without Painters, Chapter 8, 2006—combined with a second silkscreened image of Rhea Anastas—utilized in two paintings from Ark, Chapter 10, 2008. Two black bars and the cropping orthogonal of the Andy Warhol painting in Louise Lawler’s photo delimit the silkscreened imagery along with overpainting in Marshall’s photo oils. Down the center is a line of red, green and blue. This line was placed on all paintings in Chapter 20 that reused a silkscreen for a second time.); R.H. Quaytman, + ×, Chapter 34 [V], 2018, indigo distemper and gesso on wood; Louise Lawler, Position (noun), 1982/2020, gelatin silver print, installation view. Images courtesy and © the artists and Galerie Buchholz.

GORDON PARKS — THE ATMOSPHERE OF CRIME 1957

What do we mean by “crime” in America? The question should be easy to answer—we have detailed codes and statutes that forbid certain conduct defined as a criminal offense. We have an elaborate system of policing, prosecution, punishment, and incarceration that involves millions of people. But there’s a great deal more to how we think and talk about crime, and certainly to how we see and enforce criminal laws.

From the beginning, the prosecution and punishment of crime in this country have been profoundly shaped by race, poverty, power, and status. For centuries politicians have stoked fear of crime and exploited perceived crime waves, while our public discourse about crime has been compromised by persistent inattention to our history of racial violence. There is a different narrative about “crime in America” that we have for the most part ignored…

In 1957, Life magazine editors engaged staff photographer Gordon Parks and writer Robert Wallace to explore crime in the United States. The published article, by Wallace and staff editors, was a myopic rendering of the dominant narrative about crime and criminality, emblematic of a discourse shaped by politicians, law enforcement officials, and criminologists not interested in reckoning with pervasive racially motivated criminality.

Parks’ photographs told a different story. As an African American survivor of racial injustice, he was keenly aware of race and class in America, and this palpably informed his photography and his art. He consistently humanized people who were meant to be objects of scorn and derision. It’s this dissonance with a conventional crime narrative that makes his “crime” photos for Life so compelling today. — Bryan Stevenson*

The complete 1957 crime series by Parks—only a few images of which were published in Life—is available now in an exhibition catalog from the suspended Museum of Modern Art exhibition. See links below for details.

GORDON PARKS—THE ATMOSPHERE OF CRIME 1957

*Bryan Stevenson, “The Lens of Gordon Parks: A Different Picture of Crime in America,” in Gordon Parks: The Atmosphere of Crime 1957, ed. Sarah Meister (Göttingen: Steidl; Pleasantville, NY: Gordon Parks Foundation; New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2020).

Gordon Parks, The Atmosphere of Crime 1957. Images courtesy and © the Gordon Parks Foundation, the Museum of Modern Art, and Steidl.

CAMILLE HENROT — GROSSE FATIGUE

Streaming for the first time, Camille Henrot’s GROSSE FATIGUE—which won the Silver Lion at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013—is now on view as part of the Virtual Views: Video Lives program at the Museum of Modern Art.

Henrot uses the familiar setting of a computer desktop to narrate the origins of the universe. The video draws on the artist’s experience during a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, for which Henrot was granted access to film the collections of the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Set to a spoken-word poem written by Henrot in collaboration with the poet Jacob Bromberg, and scored by Joakim BouazizGROSSE FATIGUE draws from scientific theories, religious creation stories, and oral traditions. The text is voiced by multimedia artist Akwetey Orraca Tetteh...

The work features a rapid-fire choreography of pop-up windows with images drawn from a potentially limitless field of references. The swiftly proliferating imagery signals both the speed and lightness of the digital world and, conversely, the exhaustion provoked by overwhelming streams of data. Henrot has explained that the work attempts to confront “the desire to universalize knowledge [that] is accompanied by the conscience I have of this act. As soon as you think you have laid out and circumscribed the entirety of your universe within a single, selfsame landscape, isn’t the only question of any worth, and which relentlessly nags and torments the mind, But what is there beyond the limit?*

CAMILLE HENROT—GROSSE FATIGUE*

Museum of Modern Art

Camille Henrot, Grosse fatigue, 2013. Images courtesy and © the artist, Silex Films, and Kamel Mennour.

BETYE SAAR — TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS

I’m a person who walks looking down, because you can find a lot of things on the ground. I’m basically a recycler. I find other people’s stuff and junk and recycle it into my stuff and junk. — Betye Saar

Check out the documentary short BETYE SAAR—TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS, directed by Christine Turner.

See the exhibition and catalog Betye Saar: Uneasy Dancer.

From top: Betye SaarLo, The Mystique City, 1965, etching with embossing, image courtesy and © 2019 the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, digital Image © 2018 the Museum of Modern Art, New York, photograph by Rob Gerhardt; Christine Turner, Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business (2020), film images (5) courtesy and © the artist, the filmmaker, and LACMA.

AN OPEN LETTER TO MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES

We the undersigned write with grave concern about a growing trend of layoffs targeting education staff at major global museums in the name of COVID-19. Museums—including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Mass MoCA, the Serralves Foundation, and many others—have recently reported redundancies, many of them affecting freelance and part-time educators and, in the case of the MoMA, offering no horizon of re-employment. Far from redundant, such workers—employed to give tours, design and develop programs for schools and communities of all ages—are at the heart of museum and gallery work.

As those most in touch with communities outside of the museum, educators push criticality and innovation. Their work is regularly used to attract donors and supporters to many institutions. That they are first in the line of fire for layoffs is disconcerting, to say the least.

This is especially true as gallery education posts are more often to be those in which women, people of color, and members of the working-class are employed to work with communities who are not members of the cultural elite. At a moment when museums and galleries claim an interest in their diversification, why do they de-fund the very people and communities made most vulnerable by the current crisis?

We find this treatment of educators to be a great tragedy in a moment when their skill-sets—meaning-making, public engagement, community care and support—are more essential than ever. This could be a moment in which to utilize these skills to offer more to communities than virtual museum tours. Instead of retrenching museums into conservative modes of exclusionary content dissemination, a more forward-thinking stance would be to intensify the educational dimension of their offer in this moment of fear, loss and community re-organization, and to prioritize relationships with their most excluded groups.

Sadly, the reported layoffs follow years of precarity for museum and gallery educators and other cultural workers, who are rendered dispensable in times of economic or social uncertainty. While our letter is focused on the situation of educators, we stand with cleaners, porters, visitor service staff and other low paid and precarious workers in museums and galleries and call on their employers to reverse these layoffs and to offer fairly paid, secure and protected contracts for all cultural workers.

We implore museums and galleries to take this opportunity to re-imagine—with their workers and their communities—the role of culture in the time of COVID-19 and its aftermath. And we ask those museums who are already doing so to step forward and speak out on behalf of education and other essential workers targeted by these cuts.

List of signatories here.

Donate to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization.

From top: Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Questions), 1990/2018, Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles, photograph by Elon Schoenholz; Museum of Modern Art, New York City, photograph by Lauren Cavalli; Mass MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts, photograph by Jessica Rinaldi; Fundação de Serralves, Porto, Portugal, photograph courtesy of the foundation. Images courtesy and © the institutions and the photographers.