Wednesday, February 08, 2006

How Do You Solve a Problem Like MoMAtrium?

Tyler Green has thrown out an intriguing challenge to bloggers.:

MoMA's atrium is the most unfortunate, wasted bit of museum space since I.M. Pei brought triangulation into museum architecture. The MoMA atrium turns paintings into specks of color that squatting on tundra. It turns Barnett Newman's Broken Obelisk into a mere meeting place, lowering it to the level of the Stan Musial statue outside St. Louis' Busch Stadium.

True, MoMA has had some successes in the space: Robert Rauschenberg's Rebus had a commanding presence in the atrium, so too the current Cy Twombly. But that's not exactly a great batting average. (Doh!)

So what should MoMA do with the space? Bloggers: Suggest. I'll keep an eye out for blogged ideas and in a few days I'll link to the best suggestions,
as well as present my idea for the space.
OK, so you heard the MAN. What should MoMA do about the space?

I know it's currently integral to the visitor navigation between floors and such, but I'd love to see it sealed off. Totally. Make it a huge air-tight aquarium, viewable through the many windows and balconies and let Damien Hirst float a thousand dead sharks and other fish in it.

Don't think he wouldn't.

apologies in advance for shamelessly lifting the MoMa photo above from Allen Little's blog.


Blogger Tim said...

They have some very bad galleries at LACMA in the Anderson (contemporary) building, informally known as the point galleries. they are big triangles with walls of glass brick on one side, which have had walls built in front to improve the conditions for showing art there.

The solution, in this case: that part of the building will be eliminated in the re-design, torn down. It might take some time for MOMA to come to this radical conclusion, but it can be done.

2/08/2006 03:51:00 PM  
Anonymous bambino said...

well MAN.....

let me think about it :)

2/08/2006 04:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is not a specific suggestion, but how about an annual exhibition / commission / project involving the atrium, by a selected artist or sculptor, such as that done by the Tate Modern for its gigantic Turbine Hall?

2/08/2006 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

This is not a specific suggestion, but how about an annual exhibition / commission / project involving the atrium, by a selected artist or sculptor, such as that done by the Tate Modern for its gigantic Turbine Hall?

Excellent!!! Make it the artists' problem! I love it. Seriously, what a wonderful challenge that would be for various artists. It would be a continual draw, easily allow MoMA to take "risks," possibly create a new fresher curating position, not to mention that then the critique would slam the individual artist and not the institution...seems like a win-win for MoMA.

2/08/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Farmers' market.

2/08/2006 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Gusky said...

Boxing arena, in which I'll go three rounds with any artist whose work is slated to be on view on the sixth floor Special Exhibitions galleries this year. If I win, I get to exhibit in their place.

2/08/2006 07:39:00 PM  
Anonymous crionna said...


2/08/2006 08:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't so offended by the MoMA'a decision to place the Waterlilies in the Atrium. Monet, Newman, and Taniguchi set up an interesting triumvirate, a nod to the Sublime. I found the Twombly to be a lame choice. His work has been very much in vogue and offered a safe approximation of the original arrangement. I found myself wishing the MoMA's balls were as big as its Atrium, that it would have stood up for itself, or let the work speak in a new way over an extended period of viewing. Why are we so protective over Monet anyway? It's not the space it was designed for, but there is certainly something to be learned here about our culture, about the liberties we take with history, and the ultimate failure of the Sublime. The MoMA deserves credit for taking a chance on Monet as much as it deserves to be blasted for second-guessing itself.

Having said that, I am casting my vote for artist commissions, Turbine Hall style.

2/08/2006 09:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's not lose sight of what the museum atrium has evolved from and into in our successive generations. At one time, it was a gathering point meant to redirect and transition people from the outside world into a staged interior of cultural artifacts from different cultures and eras. It was a social condenser that obscured class differences and was meant to serve as a lesson in proper social behavior. Over time, it has become the locus of entertainment, corporate lobbying, or the mass gathering place leadine audiences twoards a specific cultural narrative as played out in the language of exhibitions and collection installations. MoMA's atrium is the logical inheritor of the Met's lobby, Frank Lloyd Wright's rotunda at the Guggenheim, the Pompidou's large (dis)orientinting lobby, Fort Worth Modern's cavernous entry, etc. The Guggenheim Bilbao has one that is more elegant and intimate, but it serves the same purpose. The atrium is the interchange station, where reception and deployment collide. Don't diabuse Tate Modern for the Turbine Hall. For every problematic project they have hosted has been one of wonder and scale unatainable elsewhere. MoMA is guilty of some poor curatorial choices in the new space, but the new space is exponentially different from its former self. So give it time to fail and recover. If anything is wrong with the atrium, now that the Monet has thankfully been retired elsehwere, it's that Newman's masterpiece sculpture was never meant to be seen from above. The mystery is diminished. But if one took away the paintings that surround it, what a formidable statement it would make. Every problem has a solution.

2/08/2006 11:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Evan said...

I love the atrium at moma. it's my favorite space in the new museum and i think it should be left perfecrtly untouched. Nothing made me happier than seeing a decontextualized (and unframed) Monet flirting with Marden and \DeKooning. All of them reduced to small blemishes on the wall in this huge temple of "culture". The size of that room seems appropriately insane and narcissistic and I love it. Especially compared to the timidity of all our other museums (in nyc).

2/09/2006 04:39:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Artist designed rock climbing wall! New artist every six months!

2/09/2006 06:48:00 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Re-install the painting storage racks in the atrium and invite artists to curate, but not allowing anything to be removed, only re-ordered in the tightly packed form found in the original store rooms.

(just saw Hans Haake give his talk about recent work)

The racks could be installed on hoists to lift them to different heights. Patrons would have varying views as they worked their way up or down.

2/09/2006 07:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about an art piece that can work with the sunlight coming in from the sunlights on the roof that would reflect off of prisms, which would reflect a color prism onto the atrium walls. I remember seeing a piece like this at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City years ago. The artist had set up about three different prisms in the courtyard that reflected the color prisms onto opposite walls, and of course it moves accross the space as the day goes along.

2/09/2006 11:08:00 AM  

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