When in MoMA 2019

Christopher Postlewaite

Christopher Postlewaite

New York City is a densely populated area with its fair share of residents and tourists. In the summer, it becomes a prime destination for lovers of the busy city life, and with so many sights to see, there isn’t often enough time to visit them. After a recent interview with the founders of Burnett New York, I then found that I had enough time to make a crucial visit to a Casper & Casper favourite, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which was recently featured on the magazine for their Constantin Brancusi exhibit. However, Brancusi isn’t the only maestro on display. Amongst the long-term installations of Van Gogh, Picasso and Cezanne are limited exhibitions that would make both the fast-paced New Yorker and avid art tourist pause in their wanderings to admire the art.

Here are a few must-see exhibitions last June at MoMA.

1.     Joan Miró: Birth of the World

Lauded as one of the most experimental abstract artists of the 1920s, Barcelona-born Joan Miró Ferra often made use of oversized canvases to engage intensely with poetry, space and syntax. His dreamlike work evokes both desolation and hope, both bleak and radiant. It was his Surrealist peers – the likes of Pablo Picasso, and later, Dadaist poets Max Jacob, Pierre Reverdy, and Tristan Tzara – who titled his work ‘Birth of the World’. Miró himself attributed the title piece and its companions to a ‘genesis’ of the world, of art and of language. 

It is this abstraction that forms a unique constellation of colour and pictography. In the soundless void of space, Miró creates an equally silent representation of poetry that speaks more of its nature than any specific creation. Just as there are multiple interpretations of poetry, so too are his forms, producing lithographic works and collages amongst his paintings. His unique visual language became internationally renowned, never losing his intellect and attention to detail, “conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness”.  

Each grain of dust contains something marvellous.
— Joan Miró

2.     Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern  

On the topic of multiplicity, one could do no better than Lincoln Kirstein. A writer, critic, curator, and co-founder of the New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet with George Balanchine, Kirstein was instrumental in the early days of MoMA. The recent exhibit honours an alternative and expansive view of his prolific career in shaping the arts and culture scene of the 30s and 40s.

Kirstein’s many loves included a plethora of books, music and other multidisciplinary forms of art. MoMA itself began as the Harvard Society for Contemporary Art to transport Harvard to cultural tastes that were already advancing at an increasingly fast pace in other parts of the world. Of these artistic passions, ballet captured the polymath’s endeavours, due to the rigorous discipline and skill involved in crossing the boundary between music and art. He was a hallmark icon that embodied New York City, full of precocious energy channelled towards a diverse set of strong beliefs and cultured tastes.

This type of radical modernism dominates the collection at MoMA, including silent excerpts of Balanchine’s original ‘Four Temperaments’ stage rehearsal, set and costume designs for the ballet by Paul Cadmus and Jared French, and photographs by Walker Evans and George Platt Lynes.

It is as if time called the tune and the dances which began quite simply in the 16th century took fire in the 20th century and exploded.
— Lincoln Kirstein

3.     The Value of Good Design

The home was a vital space for technological advancement and emerging design aesthetics in the age of post-war reconstruction. While it may seem forgettable now, domestic staples remain an iconic bookmark in the development of daily lifestyles as we know it today. Multiple pieces such as brightly-coloured love seats, innovative shelf designs and multiple other fittings and furniture mark a vibrant era, along with ceramics, appliances and transport design, including an Italian Fiat Cinquecento automobile and an early version of the Japanese Sony television. Among these were also unexpected items such as a Chemex Coffee Maker and Irwin Gershen’s Shrimp Cleaner.

But how can there be art in a love seat, a sewing machine and a broomstick?

By design, MoMA answers, with The Value of Good Design exhibition that explores the wonder and innovation fostered through MoMA’s Good Design initiatives from the late 1930s to the 1950s. This retrospective exhibition celebrates the contemporary, affordable and well-constructed products that bridged a global divide that was all the more prominent during the Cold War. After a period of conflicts and casualties, there is no better place to be reminded of hope than in the safety and comfort of the home.

All need not be new, but the proportions should be good, and the materials, wood, metal, cloth, should have quality. Quality is a rare word because it represents not expensive value but something spiritual the essential beauty of substance.
— Noémi Raymond, designer and curator of Japanese Household Objects exhibition, MoMA, 1953

Art and culture brings together a city with a dense population and an extremely diverse community, and there was no better site to experience the spirit of New York City than the Museum of Modern Art. Although the museum is currently closed for renovations from June 15 to Oct. 21, Casper & Casper are eager to see the new version of the space that will feature more works from women and POC, in the same inclusive spirit that their previous exhibits once carried. 

Christopher Postlewaite

Christopher Postlewaite



View the upcoming exhibitions at MoMA on their website.
Feature by Jyqa Patano –
Click here for more articles.
Photography by
Jyqa Patano / Casper Studio
Copyright © of Casper & Casper 15.07.2019

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