Current exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

See what exhibitions are currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.

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"Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs"

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The explanatory text on the wall at the beginning of MoMA’s blockbuster of around one hundred of Henri Matisse’s cut-outs notes that these well-known works attempted to resolve the “eternal conflict of drawing and color.” Epic though that reconciliation may have been, it feels faraway and quaint these days. Despite his immense popularity, Matisse’s emphasis on formal innovation and aesthetic pleasure may make him the modern master most alien to the dry, over-intellectualized “conceptual” maneuvers that fill so many New York galleries. Thus, this rather glorious exhibition feels tonic. Matisse first took scissors to paper in the 1930s to work out figural compositions for murals and theater curtains, representing dancers with schematic forms alternately sinuous and angular, and counterintuitively achieving a remarkable feeling of movement and gravity with ostensibly unwieldy materials. During World War II, he used the technique to create the great artist book Jazz (1947). The book’s circus theme, bright hues, and delightfully recognizable flat shapes evoke picture books for children, masking its suggestions of wartime violence: Starbursts in red and yellow on and around bodies evoke open wounds and exploding shells. The 20 maquettes, all of which are on view, appear wonderfully handmade compared to the final stenciled pages, a fact noted by the artist himself, which led him to consider the possibilities of the cut-outs as independent works of art. During the decade before his d

  1. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) 11 W 53rd St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 10019
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Sun Feb 8
More info

"Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

I’ve had mixed feelings about the work of Robert Gober, the subject of a 30-year retrospective at MoMA. I admire its introspection, a quality lacking in a lot of today’s gallery fare, but I also find it precious at times. Thankfully, Gober abjures irony and the faux-transgressive posture of many artists in his generation. Similarly, his sculptures and installations—the sinks and furnishings (doors, beds) made by hand; the hyperrealistic, disembodied legs made of wax; the rooms, wallpapered with dreamlike imagery and forest scenes, complete with running water—refer to his background as a gay Catholic without resorting to identity politics. He’s an artist of memory, a surreal chronicler of sorrow and loss. More importantly, his work suggests that a certain humility is necessary when confronting the mystery of life, whether it’s called God or the human condition. Gober, then, is the anti-Koons. But like Koons, he traffics in sentimentality, which can seem all the more cloying because of his work’s subjectivity: A giant stick of butter flirts with the saccharine, for instance, while a chapel-like memorial to 9/11—presided over by a headless crucified Christ, water gushing from his nipples—is a complete misfire. Nonetheless, when the elements cohere, his work is both haunting and mesmerizing—nowhere more so than in an open valise set on the floor. A look inside reveals a sewer grate separating the viewer from a submerged diorama of a tidal pool inhabited by bright marine fauna: an

  1. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) 11 W 53rd St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 10019
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Wed Dec 31
More info

"Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness"

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

A MoMA retrospective is usually an indicator of an artist about to become a household name, but I suspect that the work of Christopher Williams is too difficult for that to happen. His show was sparsely attended when I was there, while crowds thronged through a concurrent Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit. An unfair comparison, sure, but given that MoMA is in the business of promoting art as a spectacle for tourists, I couldn’t help making it. A contemporary of the Pictures Generation, Williams initially relied on appropriation to create his photographs, but only a couple of replicas of magazine covers suggest as much. The rest of his early career is taken up by deeply obscure black-and-white photos of subjects ranging from still lifes of vegetables to an ominous group of men, including military officers, gathered in front of a suburban house. Williams, a Los Angeles native, grew up on movie sets, thanks to his father, who worked in Hollywood. This experience informed his best-known work, a series of photos that he directed rather than took. He employed a commercial photographer as a cinematographer, with the result resembling midcentury ads. Austerely elegant, they provide deliberate miscues about how such images are manufactured—if you know how to decode them. A color register next to a woman wrapped in a towel doesn’t match the hues in the picture; a black man holding a camera looks away from the viewer in one of a pair of black-and-white shots. His white shirt is also blown out, w

  1. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) 11 W 53rd St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 10019
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Sun Nov 2
More info

"The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

MoMA takes viewers back to La Belle Époque in this survey of the graphic art of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901), surely one of the best-known and beloved names in art history. All of his iconic images are here, along with the landmarks of late-19th-century Parisian nightlife referenced therein, as well as its habitués onstage and in the audience.

  1. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) 11 W 53rd St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 10019
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Wed Dec 31
More info

"Jean Dubuffet: Soul of the Underground"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

MoMA reflects on a crucial period for Dubuffet (1901–1985) which spanned the early 1940s to the mid-1960s. During that time, he introduced such radical innovations as mixing sand, gravel and other foreign materials into paint to create thick, roughened textures that enhanced the brutal expressionism of his figurative and abstract work. The examples here are drawn from MoMA's extensive Dubuffet holdings and included prints, drawing and collages in addition to paintings.

  1. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) 11 W 53rd St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 10019
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Thu Mar 5
More info

"The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Though tedious arguments persist that painting is dead, the medium has been happily thriving where it counts most: In the hands of artists. But while it's true that there's plenty of painting around to compete with the installation and conceptualist fare stuffing galleries these days, it's also the case that many contemporary painters have either internalized the painting is dead position in some way, or relied on installation strategies to contextualize their work. Sometimes they do both. Also, thanks to the demise of the avant-garde, contemporary painting drives backwards more than forwards because the latter gear no longer exists. Thus mixing and matching historical styles has come to dominate the medium. Nevertheless, there's still alot to enjoy as MoMA sets out to prove in this roundup of 17 recent artists representing the panoply of millennial painting.

  1. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) 11 W 53rd St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 10019
  2. Mon Dec 15 - Thu Mar 5
More info

"Nicholas Nixon: Forty Years of The Brown Sisters"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Starting in 1974, the renowned photographer began to shoot a yearly group portrait of his wife and her three sisters, and over time the series has become a poignant chronicle of the effects of time's inexorable march on one small group of women standing in for all of us. All 40 prints are on view, newly reprinted as 20 inch by 24 inch enlargements.

  1. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) 11 W 53rd St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 10019
  2. Sat Nov 22 - Sun Jan 4
More info

"Sturtevant: Double Trouble"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

When this Ohio native began to copy the work of her Pop Art betters and claim it as her own, she was dismissed as an eccentric at best, a crackpot at worst. But Sturtevant (1924–2014)—whose first name was Elaine, but who went by her last name only—was simply carrying the logic of both the readymade and Pop Art to its radical conclusion, answering in the affirmative the following question: If the entire buffet of low-cultural signs and products was available for artistic consumption, why not artworks as well? In the bargain she anticipated 1980s appropriation tactics. Although she didn't necessarily cast her approach as feminist, she eventually became embraced as one, with her work seen as a critique of the male-dominated, market-oriented art world. This retrospective covers her 50-year career and its remarkable journey from margin to center.

  1. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) 11 W 53rd St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 10019
  2. Sun Nov 9 - Sun Feb 22
More info
See all exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)


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