museum of modern art

Happy Valentine’s Day!

With a couple posed in a loving embrace, encircled by large pink hearts, a reference to the frivolity that characterizes French Rococo painting, Kerry James Marshall’s Study for Vignette meditates on beauty, love, romance, and harmony in the black experience. Learn more about the work. 

[Kerry James Marshall. Study for Vignette. 2004. Crayon, gouache, and pencil on paper. The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection Gift. © 2017 Kerry James Marshall]

Machine Art

#tbt to 1934: Visitors to Machine Art were startled to find three floors of utilitarian, machine-made objects, such as springs, pots and pans, and scientific instruments, displayed on pedestals, elevating them to the level of sculpture. This reverential display revealed the considerable aesthetic allure of these industrial objects, which the Museum capitalized on with a beauty contest judged by celebrities such as Amelia Earhart and the philosopher John Dewey. Dewey had argued that a person’s experience of things is shaped by the context in which they are viewed, a concept that curator Philip Johnson employed in his groundbreaking design for the exhibition. Johnson took unusual steps to show the objects to their greatest effect: he screened the walls and ceilings of the Museum’s second location in a 19th-century brownstone in order to hide its decorative molding, creating a sleek, clean atmosphere that set a new standard for the display of design objects.

Read the out-of-print catalogue and see images of this pioneering exhibition at mo.ma/52exhibitions. 27 of #52exhibitions #MoMAhistory

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.