MOMA at the NGV
The greats of modern art are making Melbourne their home for the winter.
Cézanne, Picasso, Dalí and van Gogh masterpieces land in Melbourne
WHICH ARTWORKS SHOULD you exhibit when you have the pick of the most significant collection of modern masterpieces in the world? This was the enviable task facing the National Gallery of Victoria’s senior curator, Miranda Wallace, as she, alongside counterparts from New York’s Museum of Modern Art, programmed a blockbusting collaboration between the galleries. More than 200 key works – cherry-picked from MOMA’S 200,000-strong collection – will make the 16,000km trek from Midtown Manhattan, arriving on St Kilda Road in June.
“You can very easily feel overwhelmed by the quality of [MOMA’S] collection,” Wallace admits. “Obviously, the curators at MOMA know the works very well, which was certainly helpful. If I had been given a completely blank slate, it would be tough to know where to stop.” On a brief four-month loan while MOMA undergoes building works, the collection boasts a rollcall of the most influential visionaries of the past 130 years. It’s no exaggeration to say every major artist to have created work following the pioneering post-impressionism of van Gogh in the 1880s will be found within the NGV’S walls. But the show isn’t merely about dazzling gallery-goers with Picassos and Dalís and Rothkos. Wallace and her team have crafted the exhibition to reveal the social, technological and political contexts that shaped the great artistic trends of the 20th century. Wallace explains: “We very deliberately avoided grouping works together by [artistic] movements. We wanted the collection to reflect this idea of transformation and change, to show how artists were not only responding to the history of art and trying to contribute their own new vision within that, but also how they were responding to the external world and broader cultural concerns.” The ‘Arcadia and the Metropolis’ section that opens the exhibition explores how the rise of modern cities both fascinated and frustrated artists like Cézanne and Gauguin. The ‘Things as They Are’ section, the biggest zone in the exhibition, examines how pop art and minimalism in the 1960s and ’70s used representative simplicity to make complex social and political commentary. “We definitely encourage people to experience and understand a single work on its own terms. But we’ve tried to create a kind of balance between that intimate experience and offering those contexts that heighten an understanding of the work and what it represents within a broader continuum.”
In addition to show-stopping drawcards – Dalí’s ‘The Persistence of Memory’, Lichtenstein’s ‘Drowning Girl’, and Warhol’s ‘Marilyn Monroe’, to name a few – the show also features works by lesser-known artists, as well as photographers, designers, architects (including the late Zaha Hadid) and artists working in new, digital mediums. à NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, South Bank 3006. 03 8620 2222. www.ngv.vic.gov.au. Daily 10am-5pm. $10-$28. Jun 9-Oct 7.