The Museum of Modern Art (March 17, 2023) – In our latest ArtSpeaks episode, Eana Kim, Vilcek Fellow in Paintings and Sculpture chose Henri Matisse’s “Dance (I)” because his work led her life in an unexpected direction.
“What really struck me was Matisse’s journey from mastering all the academic skills to unlearning everything to create his own art,” Kim says. “He really tried to dig into and explore the fundamental elements, like forms and colors. He was looking into something more essential to create something pure. I needed to follow that path.”
In the online edition of MoMA’s ArtSpeaks program, we invite staff members, artists, and special guests to share personal impressions of an artwork in the galleries. Here, curator Eana Kim examines Matisse’s iconic expression of pleasure and joy.
Henri Matisse’s landmark painting “The Red Studio” documented the artworks displayed in his workspace just outside Paris as it existed in 1911. For the first time since then, almost all the individual pieces depicted in his painting have been reunited for an installation at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Correspondent Rita Braver reports.
Alex Roediger, MoMA’s senior information coordinator, looks at Helen Frankenthaler’s “Jacob’s Ladder” (1957) with a painter’s eye, and finds that “more paint” isn’t always the key to making a dramatic statement—even in Abstract Expressionism.
Best known as a painter, Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) produced some of his most radically original works on paper. Cézanne Drawing brings together more than 250 rarely shown works in pencil and kaleidoscopic watercolor from across the artist’s career, along with key paintings, that together reveal how drawing shaped Cézanne’s transformative modern vision.
This image of a young woman and her mirror reflection is riotous in color and chockablock with pattern. It is one of the last in a major series of canvases that Picasso created between 1931 and 1932. According to The Museum of Modern Art’s founding director, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Picasso said he “preferred this painting to any of the others,” which speaks to the painting’s dazzling visual and thematic complexity. Its primary subject is the time-honored artistic theme of a woman before her mirror, reinvented in strikingly modern terms. The girl’s smoothly painted profile, in a delicately blushing pink-lavender, abuts a heavily built-up and garishly colored frontal view in yellow and red. Allusions to youth and old age, sun and moon, light and shadow are compressed into a single multivalent face.
Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” has been a visitor favorite at MoMA since it first appeared in our Van Gogh retrospective in 1935 and then was acquired in 1939. To become acquainted with the heart and mind of its maker, there is no better source than his letters. Those to his brother Theo, in particular, reveal his deepest aims and convictions, and his pleasures and anxieties, especially during the last year-and-a-half of his life, working in near-isolation from an asylum in St.-Remy.
In 1967, Warhol established a print-publishing business, Factory Additions, through which he published a series of screenprint portfolios on his signature subjects. Marilyn Monroe was the first one. He used the same publicity still of the actress that he had previously used for dozens of paintings. Each image here was printed from five screens: one that carried the photographic image and four for different areas of color, sometimes printed off-register. About repetitions Warhol said, “The more you look at the same exact thing, the more the meaning goes away, and the better and emptier you feel.”
“It would not be a commonplace portrait at all, but a carefully composed picture, with very carefully arranged colors and lines. A rhythmic and angular pose. A decorative Félix, entering with his hat or a flower in his hand.”
With these words, in 1890, Paul Signac described to Félix Fénéon the extraordinary portrait he was dedicating to him. In it, Signac paid homage to Fénéon’s distinctive appearance, his generous but enigmatic personality, and his innovative approach to modernism.
This painting, a masterpiece in the Museum’s collection, will be the centerpiece of Félix Fénéon, the first exhibition dedicated to Fénéon (1861–1944). An art critic, editor, publisher, dealer, collector, and anarchist, Fénéon had a wide-ranging influence on the development of modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In the late 1880s, he played a key role in defining the new movement known as Neo-Impressionism, a term he coined himself, whose artists, including Signac, used tiny dabs of color that would mix in the eye of the viewer. Over the next five decades, he championed the careers of artists from Georges-Pierre Seurat and Signac to Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse, and Amedeo Modigliani.
He amassed a renowned collection of paintings by these artists and many others, and he was also a pioneering collector of art from Africa and Oceania. The exhibition will feature some 130 objects, including major works that Fénéon admired, championed, and collected, as well as contemporary photographs, letters, and publications that trace key chapters in his biography. Together these works reveal the profound and lasting legacy of Fénéon’s keen eye and bold, forward-looking vision.
In this episode of The Way I See It, our radio collaboration with BBC, we’ve captured composer Steve Reich’s audible awe as he sees his friend Richard Serra’s monumental 2015 sculpture Equal for the first time. As Reich puts it, he and Serra are “in tune to the same frequencies,” so their meeting in Manhattan in the 1960s and subsequent friendship was both important and inevitable.
Working in sound and steel respectively, both Reich and Serra rejected traditional compositional structures—one of harmony and the other of form—to give shape to their work. Reich is the recipient of countless awards, including two Grammys, a Pulitzer, and, recently, the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale. His works are performed in concert halls all over the world, and recently at Glastonbury Festival. Find “The Way I See It” on BBC Sounds or wherever you get your podcasts. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000…