May 25 is a big day! On this day in 1935, Jesse Owens broke three track and field records; in 1977, Star Wars was released; plus it’s National Tap Dance Day—happy birthday Bill “Bojangles” Robinson! And for a few (or a lot) of our visitors of all ages, May 25 is your birthday and you’re spending it here. From the celebratory “I went to MoMA and…” responses we pulled from the pile this week, we know you’re out there—turning 9, 21, 30, 50, 65, 80, and everything in between.
Posts by Tamsin Nutter
Many of the “I went to MoMA and…” responses are attempts to fit very big thoughts and feelings onto 3×6-inch cards. Here on a midtown block in an often cynical city, deeply felt sentiments and words like floating, dreaming, beauty, connection, and soul seem to be on people’s minds.
Reading the “I went to MoMA and…” notecards, we’ve started to notice the guitars… a lot of guitars. People draw guitars of all shapes and sizes; realistic guitars, Cubist guitars, abstract guitars; guitars by kids, guitars by grownups, guitars by people from many different countries. The inspiration, of course, for this outpouring of guitar drawings is our current exhibition Picasso: Guitars 1912–1914.
Aesthetic emotion puts man in a state favorable to the reception of erotic emotion. Art is the accomplice of love. Take love away and there is no longer art.
“It is the spectators who make the pictures.”—Marcel Duchamp
What would our museum be with no visitors? Well…not much of a museum. MoMA isn’t just galleries filled with art, after all. It’s also the experience of art, the diverse and intensely personal experiences people have when they visit.
Friends and family keep asking me recently, “What do you think of the Marina Abramović show?” The exhibition has sparked a lot of conversation, especially one aspect of it—yes, the “naked people.”
Some viewers have been shocked by the bodies in our galleries, but I didn’t expect to be one of them. Beyond the occasional cartwheel, there hasn’t been much call at MoMA for my performing skills… but before I was a MoMA wordsmith, I was a modern dancer, performing for several years mostly with the Regina Nejman Dance Company.
Dancers become comfortable with the body to an unusual degree. There’s the co-ed quick costume-changing backstage, the impolite contact of dance partnering, not to mention you spend a lot of your life wearing spandex. And yet I discovered that Abramović’s reperformers—clothed and unclothed—ruffled my composure, too.
Imponderabilia (1977), the Abramović piece in which two nude performers flank a doorway, has gotten a lot of press. Brushing past the genitalia of strangers in a crowded, public place—could anything be more nightmarish for a New Yorker? Recently, playing hooky from my desk, I breathed in, to be thinner, and slipped between the man and woman performing that afternoon. Safely through, I realized my heart was pounding. Other visitors hurried through nonchalantly, pretending they were going that way anyway; the performers, standing with knees slightly bent, never broke their bubble of concentration. (A good trick for the endurance stander, to avoid wobbling or fainting: don’t lock your knees.)
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