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MoMA opens Automania with a big Bang Celebration!

By Anjali Sharma

NEW YORK, Museum of Modern Art opened its much anticipated exhibition –Automania on July 4th holiday of America Independence day which symbolizes motorized freedom and the day known for its parade-queen convertibles in small town across the USA, on view through January 2, 2022.

Automania takes an in-depth look at an object that has inspired countless examples of innovation, social transformation, and critical debate among designers and artists working in varied media.

The name “Automania” is inspired by a 1963 Oscar-nominated animated short, “Automania 2000.” That piece is the work of John Halas and Joy Batchelor, the British husband-and-wife team best known for a 1954 version of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”

Ever since the first automobiles hit the road over a century ago, cars have left a lasting imprint on the design of our built environment. They have fundamentally reshaped the ways in which we live, work, and enjoy ourselves, for both better and worse. Cars have altered our ideas about mobility, connecting us across great distances at ever greater speeds.

The exhibition also addresses the conflicted feelings—compulsion, fixation, desire, and rage—that developed in response to cars and car culture in the 20th century.

It examine automobiles as both modern industrial products and style icons, it also explores their adverse impact on roads and streets, public health, and the planet’s ecosystems.

Juliet Kinchin who curated the MoMA exhibit with contributions from Paul Galloway and Andrew Gardner.

Said that “It does seem like we’ve come to another critical juncture in our relationship to the automobile.”

Yet the exhibit, drawn almost exclusively from the museum’s own collection, is never dogmatic, walking a painted white line between critique and celebration.

“We’re hoping it will deepen and spark further debate, but also joyous appreciation of the automobile’s innovation, tech and social transformation,” Ms. Kinchin said.

Automania brings together cars and car parts, architectural models, Paintings, sculpture, photographs, posters, films, models, road signs and car components show how the automobile has transformed every aspect of our culture, ranges from Lily Reich’s 1930s designs for a tubular steel car seat to Andy Warhol’s Orange Car Crash Fourteen Times.

Automania also highlights 10 examples of pathbreaking auto design, including a stogie-stretched, 1963 Jaguar E-Type Roadster; a 1990 Ferrari Formula 1 racer; and an adorable 1963 Airstream Bambi trailer. The aluminum-skinned Bambi — named by the company founder Wally Byam, during his 14,000-mile caravan through Africa in 1960, for a tiny deer known as “O’Mbambi” in a Bantu dialect — became a fixture of American highways, reliably towed by a family station wagon.

Picasso had a soft side for automobile, in the 1951 bronze “Baboon and Young.” Ms. Kinchin explained that Picasso had nicked two toy cars from his son, sandwiching them to create the baboon’s mouth from dual radiators, its eyes framed by a windshield, a leaf spring forming its spine and tail. The man-machine (and animal) hybrid — an enduring fascination, from Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” to Kraftwerk’s musical robots is essentially passed down to the baby baboon clinging to its mother’s breast.

“To me, there’s so much there about how cars have gotten into our heads,” Ms. Kinchin said. “Physically and psychologically, they become an extension of ourselves on many levels.”

“We were amazed and frustrated at how little we could actually show,” Ms. Kinchin said. “The subject is so rich.”

“You don’t have to be a driver or own a car to have powerful memories or associations about cars in your life,” Ms. Kinchin said. “Everyone has a car story. Everyone on some level can identify with the car.”

The exhibition has nine cars on display, including a recently restored Volkswagen Type 1 sedan (better known as the Beetle), which invite visitors to take an up-close view of the machines that architect Le Corbusier compared to ancient Greek temples and critic Roland Barthes likened to “the great Gothic cathedrals…the supreme creation of an era.”

Automania is organized by Juliet Kinchin, former Curator, Paul Galloway, Collection Specialist, and Andrew Gardner, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design.

Another exhibition at MoMA on display is Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) a painter 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.

Drawing almost daily on individual sheets and across the pages of sketchbooks, Cézanne made his process visible, from searching lines that repeat and transform to layered washes of watercolor that explore translucency and luminosity.

He returned often to those subjects close at hand, including the objects on his kitchen table, his wife and son, and clocks and lamps that adorn domestic life; hiked out into the hills to find views of his favorite Mont Sainte-Victoire or into dense forests; and envisioned narratives from his own imagination. On paper, he rendered the iconic motifs for which he is most recognized—vibrant still life’s, prismatic landscapes, and carefully choreographed bathers—with a fresh immediacy.

“Drawing is merely the configuration of what you see,” Cézanne wrote, and his practice of drawing, he believed, taught him “to see well.”

Encouraging such close looking, Cézanne Drawing offers the opportunity to see through Cézanne’s eyes.

In their preoccupation with the passing of time, their wonder at the natural world, their investigations of the bounds of color, and their daring approach to the human figure, Cézanne’s drawings speak eloquently both to their own time and to our moment.

The exhibition is organized by Jodi Hauptman, Senior Curator, and Samantha Friedman, Associate Curator, with Kiko Aebi, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints.

Alexander Calder an American artist re-imagined sculpture as an experiment in space and motion, upending centuries-old notions that sculpture should be static, grounded, and dense by making artworks that often move freely and interact with their surroundings.

“One of Calder’s objects is like the sea,” wrote the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, “always beginning over again, always new.”

Bringing together early wire and wood figures, works on paper, jewelry, mobiles in motion, and monumental abstract sculptures, the exhibition takes a deep dive into the full breadth of Calder’s career and inventiveness.

Calder’s ever-changing artworks invite a viewer’s sustained attention; and The Museum of Modern Art has provided a setting for this productive exchange ever since his work was first exhibited here in 1930, just months after the Museum opened its doors.

The exhibition looks at Calder’s work through the lens of this connection.

Throughout MoMA’s formative years, Calder, in his unofficial role as “house artist,” was called upon to produce several commissioned works—including Lobster Trap and Fish Tail, a multicolored mobile that hangs in the same stairwell for which it was made in 1939.

His works have been a mainstay of the Museum’s galleries and Sculpture Garden ever since.

The exhibition celebrates one of the most beloved artists of the 20th century and presents rarely seen works, including the large-scale Man-Eater with Pennants, which will be on view in the Sculpture Garden for the first time in more than 50 years after new conservation drawn from MoMA’s collection and augmented with key loans from the Calder Foundation.

Calder is organized by Cara Manes, Associate Curator, with Zuna Maza and Makayla Bailey, Curatorial Fellows, Department of Painting and Sculpture.

Lastly Fotoclubismo exhibition at MoMA explores the unforgettable creative achievements of São Paulo’s Foto-Cine Clube.

Bandeirante (FCCB), a group of amateur photographers whose ambitious and innovative works embodied the abundant originality of postwar Brazilian culture. Although their work was heralded around the world in the 1950s, it subsequently faded from view. This is the first museum exhibition to present this fascinating moment in photography’s history to audiences outside of Brazil.

Photography was a hobby for most FCCB members: on weekdays, group members—many of whom were women—went to their jobs as businessmen, accountants, journalists, engineers, biologists, and bankers.

On weekends, they often traveled to photograph together. They were nonetheless quite serious about their artistic ambition, not unlike millions of people on Instagram today. Their pictures assumed many forms—from inventive experiments to distillations from everyday life—and their attentiveness to abstraction evolved in dialogue with leading critical thinkers and peers in design, painting, and film.

More than 60 photographs, drawn almost exclusively from MoMA’s collection, demonstrate the group’s extraordinary range. Their absence from the international histories of the medium provide a valuable opportunity to reflect on the biases that led to these exclusions, and invite us to reflect on the status of the amateur today.

The exhibition is being organized by Sarah Hermanson Meister, Curator, with Dana Ostrander, Curatorial Assistant, Robert B. Menschel Department of Photography.


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