Thursday, January 11, 2024

MOMA, Picasso, and Ruscha


The Museum of Modern Art, in New York City, has a wonderful permanent collection, and I visit that collection at least once a year. But the things that brings me back to MOMA every month or two are the special exhibitions, and they certainly know how to put on a show. There are two exhibits on display at the time of this writing that are perfect examples of what MOMA can do.

Picasso in Fontainebleau


The first is Picasso in Fontainebleau (until Feb 17, 2024). This is a  collection of works executed by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) during a four month vacation in the town of Fontainebleau, near Paris. During the summer os 1921, Picasso, his wife, Olga Khokhlova, and their infant son Paolo rented a house away from hustle and bustle of Paris. It was a chance to relax, and for Olga to recover from child birth. Throughout his life, Picasso was extremely prolific, and during his short time in Fontainebleau he produced four major pieces, and dozens of studies and smaller paintings.

Two versions of Pierrot and Harlequin


The first piece finish is titled The Spring. It is Picasso’s take on a painting that was on display in the Chateau du Fontainebleau - The Nymph of Fontainebleau. He was inspired by this 16th century painting, and took a step away from cubism, towards developing his own version of classicism. 

Chalk study for The Spring

The Spring

The Spring led Picasso to his second major work of the summer - Three Women at the Spring. Again in a classical style, Picasso obviously drew from his work on The Spring. He also created many studies, both drawn and painted, as he worked through his process.

Three Women at the Spring

Picasso’s other major pieces were two different versions of Three Musicians. Here he returned to his cubist style of painting.

Still Life with Guitar

Three Musicians

Three Musicians

While working on these four paintings, Picasso found time to create a series of paintings and drawings titled Maternity. Obviously inspired by the recent birth of his son, and observing Olga’s and Paolo’s interactions, these are loving portraits, presented in a realist style.



Ed Ruscha/ Now Then

Charles Atlas Landscape


The second major show is Ed Ruscha/ Now Then (through Jan. 15, 2024 /  at LACMA April 7 - Oct. 6, 2024). This is retrospective of the works of Ed Ruscha (b. 1937). Ruscha trained as a commercial/graphic artist. In the early 1960’s he began producing canvases in the pop-art genre. His early works favored large canvases with primary colors. In these colored backgrounds he inserted text elements. 



Actual Size

Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights

Ruscha also began painting buildings that he believed were stylistically important or interesting. In 1963, he took a road trip, and photographed gas stations mostly in southern California and the southwest. He produced a book of these photographs, and then painted some of these stations, in a way that fused pop-art and Artdeco elements. 

Standard Station, Amarillo Texas

Norm's La Cienega, on fire

Ruscha continued to produce works in both of these two categories of subjects throughout his life. At times he explored alternative materials for his textual work. At times he developed series showing how buildings he had previously painted were repurposed over time.

I Can't Find My Keys Nowhere

Five Past Eleven

Blue Collar Tech-Chem

Old Tech-Chem building

The Back of Hollywood

Los Angeles County Museum of Art on fire




Large museums, like MOMA, are always worth a visit (if the crowds aren’t too crazy. But when they put together exhibits as fascinating and special as these two, at the same time, it really shows how these museums can be special places.


Nuts and Bolts:

MOMA is located at 11 w. 53rd Street, NY, NY. There are many subways and busses that will leave you withing 2 blocks of museum

Moma is open from 10:30 - 5:30 seven days a week.

Tickets are $28 Adult/ $20 Senior and visitor with disability/ $15 Student/ Free 16 and under.   

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