Art-Exhibits

This week’s #tbt looks back at a major exhibition of works by celebrated African American artist Romare Bearden, which opened at MoMA in 1971. It grew, in part, out of demands made by the Art Workers Coalition (AWC), an activist organization that advocated for New York City museums to improve their ethical relationship to artists and to the public. They argued that museums should improve public access by waiving admission fees and implement more inclusive exhibition policies to encourage shows by women and minorities. In 1969, the AWC submitted a list of demands to MoMA, including that a “section of the Museum, under the direction of black artists, should be devoted to showing the accomplishments of black artists.” MoMA’s Board of Trustees recommended that the institution embrace a more inclusive approach to collecting, exhibiting, and public programming, and the Bearden exhibition was one of the first outcomes of this recommendation. See images of the installation, read the out-of-print exhibition catalogue, and more. 22 of #52exhibitions

[Romare Bearden. The Dove. 1964. Cut-and-pasted printed paper, gouache, pencil, and colored pencil on board. Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Fund. Photo: Thomas Griesel]

Eileen Gray

#tbt to a retrospective of the work of the Anglo-Irish designer Eileen Gray, which opened in February 1980, four years after her death. Gray had often been left out of design histories in spite of her extraordinary career, which ranged from experiments in furniture to groundbreaking architecture. One of her greatest achievements in the latter field was E-1027, a late-1920s seaside house on the French Riviera that was, as the press release for the exhibition noted, “one of the first truly radical modern buildings in France.” Nevertheless, as the years passed, Gray’s contribution to the field was marginalized and her legacy minimized within the male-dominated world of architecture and design—something this exhibition sought to challenge. The installation comprised numerous examples of her furniture design, with photographs and drawings providing an overview of her work in architecture. (MoMA’s current exhibition How Should We Live? Propositions for the Modern Interior includes numerous examples of Gray’s furnishings.)

See installation views of the original 1980 retrospective, read the out-of-print catalogue, and more.