1. The last half-decade has been tumultuous for the Los Angeles MoCA (Museum of Contemporary Art). Give a brief overview of MoCA’s history – when was it founded, what it was known for. Then, describe the key developments that have taken place between the fall of 2008 and the present.
The Los Angeles MoCA was founded in 1979 as a place where contemporary artists could present their works to the audience. Marcia Weisman was the founder of the museum, and she attempted to unite many young artists, shareholders, critics, collectors, and art critics. However, Paul Schimmel was the most prominent director of MoCA. He collected most of the works and transformed the museum into the influential center of contemporary art in the United States. He gathered the works of such famous artists as Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Franz Kline, and Barnett Newman. Abstract expressionism and pop art are the dominant styles in the MoCA’s collection. The museum contains private collections that were sold or donated mostly in the late 20th century.
The museum’s main program of events is aimed at spreading the art of young artists, and since 2008, the majority of MoCA’s events is dedicated to retrospectives and innovative presentations. Jeffrey Deitch particularly affected the changes in the museum, organizing the exhibition of contemporary street art (Art in the Streets in 2011), charity retrospectives (Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974 in 2012), and panel discussions. The Shadows (2014), the exhibition of Andy Warhol’s unknown works, also was among the events. The turning point in the museum’s history was the departure of the respected curator Paul Schimmel in 2012. In the same year, the private University of Southern California conducted a talk on the museum’s funding. In 2015, Sotheby’s auction donated $22.5 million to the museum, as well as the works of such famous artists as Takashi Murakami and Edward Ruscha.
2. According to Karsten Schubert, what are the typical characteristics of “the new museum?” What gets prioritized, and what gets sacrificed in this emerging model? What are the potential problems that arise when museums behave too much like corporations? How does LACMA (The Los Angeles County Museum of Art) reflect the strategies of “the new museum?” Give specific examples and connect them to Schubert’s text.
First, the new museum is similar to an entertainment center; thus, it is close to Theodor Adorno’s idea about the users’ control of the culture industry (Schubert 159). Thus, the modern museum does not comply with the previous feature of an elite center, whose main task was to educate people and to transfer cultural experiences. Hence, the new museum is close to a supermarket, where the most significant feature is to get a quick impression, and, therefore, instead of focus, “there would be distraction and history would be sacrificed for novelty” (Schubert 160). Hence, the new museum represents such typical characteristics as amnesia, corporative values, entertainment, quantity, revival, and copy.
Accordingly, education and history are not essential in this model, and they were replaced by entertainment and grants. Thus, the new model of corporate structure that adapts to its time changed the old model of a museum as a cultural center (Schubert 176), changing its space and architecture. In this sense, the main purpose of the museum is to maintain a large number of people as consumers. Therefore, temporary exhibitions are more necessary in this model. The potential danger of museums as corporations is that they consider art as an element of financial operations and marketing. Consequently, they will ignore many unpopular and unknown artists. Hence, it will be difficult for young talented artists to organize their exhibitions since they have less chance to bring profits to the museum.
LACMA partly recreates the model of a new museum since it often arranges exhibitions to attract new people and grants. The museum uses the idea of great space and facilities that resemble a supermarket space, creating retrospectives of contemporary artists. It represents Shubert’s idea of “forever changing collections” (Shubert 172), affecting the way in which curators view the collections in their charge. For example, the square for contemporary art (5,600 m2) is the largest in LACMA, which demonstrates the use of popular works as a permanent method for earnings, displaying them in temporary exhibitions.
3. Select three different alternative art spaces. Make sure that at least two of the spaces you choose are located outside of the U.S (they can all be outside the U.S. if you prefer). In your essay, describe each venue: give its name and location, give a general description of its mission, explain how it responds to its specific location, and describe two specific projects, events or exhibitions hosted there. Conclude your essay by explaining what these three venues show about contemporary art in a global context.
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago was established in 1967. It is located at 220 East Chicago Avenue, in the city center, which allows it to attract more visitors. It is one of the first contemporary art museums in the world that aims to show post-World War art, namely abstract expressionism, minimalism, pop-art, and conceptualism. The exhibition Eiko & Koma: Time is Not Even, Space is Not Empty in 2011 was one of the most significant events since it was the first presentation of stage performances in the museum. Moreover, the MCA reinforced its space and function in 2002, attracting modern artists to construct public art for the front plaza.
The Pompidou Center was opened in 1977, on the initiative of Georges Pompidou, the President of France. It is located in the center of Paris; thus, it is easily accessible by tourists. The president wanted to create one more symbol of Paris, but in the modern cultural context. The center includes the Museum of Modern Art, a large library, concert and exhibition halls, and the Research Institute. The most important exhibitions of recent years were dedicated to Jeff Koons (2014) and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (2015). The center’s main mission is to present the works of distinguished international artists to the public and to popularize contemporary art.
The Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art is situated in Tokyo, and its goal is to represent modern Japanese art. The Ministry of Education of Japan founded the museum in 1952. When the museum’s collection had grown, the museum was moved to Kitanomaru Koen in Chiyoda Ward, its present location. This is a convenient location since it is easy to reach the museum form different parts of the city. In 2015, the museum organized a retrospective of the artist Yasuda Yukihiko, and the recent exhibition was dedicated to the paintings of Yamada Masaaki.
In conclusion, these three venues prove that the contemporary art styles of different countries, despite national differences, have much in common. In addition, these museums perform the function of the popularization of art to a wider audience since they are located in the centers of their cities. Thus, contemporary art overcomes national, cultural, and political limits in its intention to create a communicative discourse.
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