Thursday, November 18, 2004

Don't Worry, MoMA's Here


Lauder F-1Eleven, originally uploaded by Art or Idiocy?.

Manhattan is Modern Again. Oh thank God, I was worried when I was New York last and MoMA was in Queens. I realized that without MoMA, New York was almost as dismal as a 2nd tier art city.

Is art that boring that this is the main story of the week? I was reading an article at the Art Newspaper and it said that the history of art has now been re-written because the MoMA has a new addition and the collection has been re-arranged. It outlined the history of MoMA and how it controls art history. No one should control art history, but that's the way it is. MoMA put forth a system of progression and we were all taught it, and accepted it.

But now is the Art After Modernism period. People are suspicious of how the utopian promises of Modernism never came to pass. First The Royal We gave up (Post Minimalism, Conceptual Art), then we insulted it, hated it and tried to destroy it (Postmodernism.) Now we don't know what to do. We are making crappy drawings on found paper with crayola markers about the 70s for international art fairs. Maybe belief, or at least optimism is OK. It sure beats ironic nostalgia or fake enjoyment of lame facets of popular culture. But at any rate, Manhattan is Modern... again.

So the world has been tooling around trying to figure out what to do. Is London a good art center? What about somewhere more Bavarian? Even Artforum couldn't hold down the fort of what Now is all about. So thank god that MoMA has returned and we can all rest. Now we have an even more giant graveyard for art. They put contemporary art right in the front, so we can see all the fresh corpses. Like heads on spikes at the tower of London, canonized by caustic control-freak curators.

I don't necessarily believe that museums are where art comes to die. And I don't necessarily believe Peter Schejldahl's analogy that museums are really just endless lobbies, but these crass propositions seem to have a grain of truth. They are a grain of salt to season some food for thought.

As Modernism as a time period moves further into the past, MoMA is going to have to redefine itself. In many ways, it is the artworld equivalent to the Bar Exam. You're not an official artist until you are in the MoMA. That's what famously set Fernando Botero up for life, for instance.

Perhaps working in art museums has led me in this direction, but I think institutional critique is a vital aspect to contemporary art criticism and theory. History will always continue to be written. No matter how deconstructed, postmodernist, or revisionist we want to make it. It is always there. It is always happening. And things will always be in reaction to it: support, objection or ignorance.

Also, I recommend getting a job at an art museum because then you don't have to pay $20 to pass through the gates of ultimate knowledge when flash your ID.

1 comment:

foldes said...

Oh yes I am glad that the MOMA is here. I mean despite that the visual arts gets little attention it is a good thing that more money is being invested in it. I really don't mind what those folks say about creating a particular art system of favorites. If you are a practicing artist it should be an exiting thing to see that there is such an interst in contemporary art. I see that this trend is growing and it is important that contemporary artist get there due. 20 dollars is a lot of cash to get in and that is a problem because it limits the amount of diversity, but how else are they going to pay for a 500 million dollar building? Private interest/investment is the problem we are facing because the lack of federal investment. This I guess is the reason to worry because they decide who gets in.