Paper: Pressed, Stained, Slashed, Folded at MoMA, Part 1

The works-on-paper gallery on the second floor of the Museum of Modern Art is one of the museum's best-kept secrets. Not that it's hidden or that people don't go into it, but compared to the hordes that visit the higher-profile spaces, this is a quiet oasis in which to contemplate work that is typically quieter and smaller than elsewhere in the building.

Above: Entrance to the exhibition

The exhibitions, often organized by Starr Figura, a curator in the Prints and Drawings department, are always good. (A while back I did a four-part report on Geo/Metric, another impressive exhibition curated by Figura, with Kathleen Curry, and which included the Dorothea Rockburne folded prints that are in this show. ) Because all the work is in the museum's collection, photography is allowed.
This time the exhibition looks at the materiality of paper. The title spells out the curatorial parameters: Paper: Pressed, Stained, Slashed, Folded. Well, that's not exactly true; it's also ripped, pinned, crumpled, punched, printed, stitched, embedded and handmade. But you get the picture. There are papier mache cylinders by Eva Hesse, a mid-size graphite assemblage by Nancy Rubins that's pushpinned to the wall, the surprise of a crumpled sheet of ink-stained paper by Claes Oldenburg, and a whole lot more. Much of the work is from the 1960s and 70s, so I suppose it officially qualifies as "art history."

The exhibition is up until June 22, so you have time to see it if you're so inclined. If you can't, an
interactive flash site shows you more work than I can show you here, often with closeups but without the installation shots. (By the way, am I the only person who hates MoMA's new website? I find it to have entirely too much Flash--too many bells, whistles, graphics, and boxes, changing images, drop-downs and pop-ups.)

Let's start in the anteroom with Robert Rauschenberg, then peek into the large first gallery. After we've made a tour of the room, we'll return to the anteroom to see wortk by Tapies and LeWitt.

In the anteroom: Robert Rauschenberg, Cardbird Series, 1971, photolithograph and screenprint on corrugated cardboard with tape additions, app. 26 x 27 inches

Far wall, from left: Richard Smith, image and info below; Dorothea Rockburne, Locus, 1972, series of six relief etching and aquatints on folded paper, each app. 40 x 30 inches.

On platform, above: Eva Hesse, Repetition Nineteen 1, 1967, paint and papier-mache on aluminum screening, each app. 9 to 10.5 high and 6 to 9 inches diameter

Below: Richard Smith, Diary, 1975, screenprint on seven sheets with punched-hole additions and string, each app. 20 x 21 inches

Another view of Rockburne's Locus and Hesse's Repetition Nineteen 1 . . .

. . . and details of each

Moving around the gallery, to the right of the Rockburnes is Giuseppe Penone, Fingernail Scratches (Unghiate), 1986, plaster on four sheets of torn paper, 55 x 79 inches total, with the work isolated below

As you face this work by Penone, on the wall past your right shoulder is the work below:

Sol LeWitt, Untitled, 1974, folded paper with pencil, 14 x 14 inches plus frame

Back in the anteroom just to the right of the Rauschenberg, is Anular, an illustrated book with 23 etchings, by the Catalan painter Antoni Tapies

Details are below and below that

In Part 2, which I'll post soon, we'll look into the smaller galleries. I have a lot more to show you, including my favorite work in the show--by Howardena Pindell. .


Sean said...

The tenuousness and impermance of paper brings a sense of familiarity and intimacy that canvas or panel can't easily rival.

The show looks really inspiring. I wish I could see it on the West Coast. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

LXV said...

Yes, Joanne, this is a wonderful show. I've been back a few times to take it all in. What Sean (above) said is so true. There is also a tactile quality that pulls me in.

Have you seen the Tangled Alphabets on the 6th floor? It wasn't as good as I'd hoped, but the wire sculptures by Leon Ferrari blew me away. I'm an alphabet person and am working on a blog article about just that, so the show was timely for me. But I was disappointed. Either the artists were kind of limited in their scope or the curators didn't make enough of the work.

The print show (printing processes) by Chip Benson is a fantastic teaching experience. If anybody has an interest in the ways that ink on paper can communicate, then this is the place to take your students. I think it's called" The Printed Picture"; it's pretty technical but thorough and interesting. Benson won a MacCarthur grant for his work color separation.

And as for the MoMA website, it's way too slow to load and very confusing to navigate. I am not a fan of the Flash-based experience. I keep my own website static and most people respond very well.

Thanks for your blog, by the way. It's one I check into frequently and I am awed by your energy and generous spirit.

Anonymous said...

As always, great walk through. 'Cardbird Series, 1971' is a smash. Could've been made today. Stands right out. Certain hint -- you really have to be true to the materials.
thanks Joanne

Sheree Rensel said...

The Hesse piece is just as stunning now as it was 40 years ago. Beautiful.

leigh waldron-taylor said...


thank god you're in nyc so i can visit vicariously while i weather a bout of being broke

(all the more reason to pay attention to marketing and not be such a snot, eh?!)

great show.
leigh wt

Susan Buret said...

Thanks for letting me know. I am only in NY for three days and seem to be spending every day at MOMA.

tony said...

Thankyou Joanne: it was a great corrective to see again images of work which showed such a clarity of vision whilst using the most modest of means.

Joanne Mattera said...

I'm so pleased you,re responding to this show. I'll post Part 2 on Wednesday.

Seth said...

This gallery is one of my favorite parts of the museum. They always have such interesting exhbits. I saw this show and loved the piece by Howardena Pindell. In fact, there is a close-up shot of the work on the most recent post on my blog!