Thursday, May 30, 2024

Art by Women at New York's MOMA

The Prisoners by Käthe Kollwitz


In New York City, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) is the home for art created from the 1880’s through today. Its permanent collection and the temporary exhibits cover a wide range of genres and styles. Currently, there are three special exhibitions, all featuring female artists. They span over 100 years of art history, yet all offer a view of the world through a woman’s struggles.

Joan Jonas - Good Night Good Morning

Joan Jonas (b. 1936) has been a pioneer of performance and video art for close to sixty years. She originally trained as a sculptor, but living on the lower East Side of New York City brought her into the avant-garde art movement in the 1960’s. Her first foray into performance art was a series of dance exhibitions titled Mirror Pieces. Dancers performed in spaces while holding large mirrors. The mirrors were moved so that they shifted between reflections of the dancers and the audience.

Mirror Pieces by Joan Jonas


Shortly after this, Jonas used several square blocks on Manhattan’s lower West Side as the stage for Delay Delay. Most of the buildings in this area had been torn down, and the dancers moved through the empty lots, banging bricks together and dancing, while the audience sat on the roof of one of the remaining structures to watch. The name came in part from the lag between the audience seeing actions, and hearing the noise created.

Delay Delay by Joan Jonas (Photos by Gianfranco Gorgoni)


By the 1980’s, Jonas had move to installations often including video components. 

Jones Beach Dance by Joan Jonas (photos by Richard Landry)

The Juniper Tree


This exhibition will be on display until July 6, 2024.

Latoya Ruby Frazier - Monuments of Solidarity



Latoya Ruby Frazier (b. 1982) is a contemporary photographer, whose work consists of collections of photographs focused around struggles and lives of working people. She was born in the town of Braddock, PA. Braddock is southeast of Pittsburgh, sitting along the Monongahela River. It is one of many towns in the area that served as home to plants owned by U.S. Steel. By the 1980’s these plants were being closed, with devastating effect on the communities.

U.S. Steel Edgar Thompson Steel Works and Monongahela River


Frazier’s work documents the effects of the de-industrialization of the United States over the past 20 or so years. Her first collection was a series of intimate photographs of her mother and grandmother. 

Momma (Shadow)

Grandma Ruby and Me


She then began to take pictures of the growing movement in Braddock that sprang up when the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center closed the hospital there, stating that it was no longer profitable.

Photos depicting the destruction of UPMC Hospital


Frazier went to Flint Michigan when news of the lead in the water crisis there broke. She spent several years working with local activists and families, capturing how their lives had been changed by this preventable, man-made disaster.

Mr. Smiley Standing with his daughter Shea and his Granddaughter Zion

Moses West with water collected from the air using his condensation machine

Children playing in water Moses West is spraying


The final collection on display at the museum is a collection of photos and interview down at the time of the closing of the Lordstown, OH, General Motors auto plant, where the Chevy Cruze had been produced. In 2017, then-president Trump came to Lordstown and promised that he would personally make sure that the plant would never close. In 2019, it did.

Pamela Brown with her Great Granddaughter

Members of UAW Local 1112 - Lordstown OH


This exhibition will run through Sept. 7, 2024.

Käthe Kollwitz

Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945)  was a German artist who produced work from the 1880’s until her death in 1945. Her work concentrated on the lives of working people, focused through the lens of the lives of women. Her pieces fall mostly in the the genre of expressionism, working to bring forth the emotions of a scene, rather than a realistic portrayal. 


Home Worker, Asleep At The Table

Early in her career she produced several series of drawings taken from historic movements by the poor, against the aristocracy. One was The Weaver’s Revolt. Between 1844 and 1845, cotton weavers in the Silesia area of Prussia were on the verge of starvation. Their pay had been lowered because the merchants could not compete with the modern British industry. The weavers rebelled and stormed the estate of their contractor, who called in the Prussian army. The Army brutally suppressed the rebellion.

March of the Weavers

Storming the Gate - Attack


The second series presented here is The Peasant’s War. In 1524, there was a widespread rebellion by farm workers in several German-speaking areas of Europe. This rebellion was violently put down, resulting in the deaths of between 100,000 and 300,000 peasants.



Kollwitz’s work focused on the lives and role of women in these series and in later pieces. One common theme was mother mourning for children who had died, either from starvation, illness or in war.

Woman with Dead Child

The Carmagnole


Between World War I and World War II, Kollwitz also produced posters for political movements she supported. The most famous of these is probably “Never Again War” made in 1924.

Never Again War

This exhibtion is on until July 6, 2024


And remember a trip to MOMA always offers great things to look at, even when one watches the crowd instead of the art.


Thursday, May 23, 2024

Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, New York



Rochester, NY, is a wonderful small city with some some very nice museums. The Strong Museum offers a history of toys and games. Eastman House provides an excellent showcase for photography and film. On a recent trip I visited the city’s primary art museum - The Memorial Art Gallery.

Statue of Venus Obliterated by Infinity Nets by Yayoi Kusama


The Memorial Art Gallery (MAG) is part of Rochester University, and has been home to art in the city since 1913. While it had no permanent home collection to start, over the years many prominent Rochester residents have left their collections to the MAG, and today there are over 12,000 works of art in its permanent collection. This collection makes up most of the exhibits at the MAG.

Portrait of a Young Man in an Armchair by Rembrandt. On display as part of an exhibit on forensic resotration


First, there is the European collection, which resides in the older section of the museum. Here you find some great pictures by masters throughout the past 500 years. Nearby are collections of works from ancient Greece and Egypt, along with indigenous art from the Americas, Africa and Oceana.

The Printseller's Window by Walter Goodman

The Doctor's Visit by Hendrik Heershop

Harem Scene by Daniel Israel

Still Life with Pipe by Georges Braque

Towing a Boat, Honfluer by Claude Monet

Waterloo Bridge by Claude Monet


Second was an exhibit titled Seeing America. This showcased some of the collection’s works by artists from the United States, many from the Rochester area.

Peeling Onions by Lilly Martin Spencer

Main Street Bridge by Colvin Campbell Cooper

View of the Pitkin House, East Ave. by Charles Wilson

Home Late by Mortimer Smith

Newbury Hayfield at Sunset by Martin Johnson Heade


Finally, there was The Power of the Portrait, drawing for MAG’s collection of portraits spanning the history of European and American art.

After Memling's Portrait of a Man with a Letter by Kahinde Wiley

Safi by Sarah Rutherford

The Gardiner by John Ahern and Rigoberto Torres

Interlude by John Koch


MAG was also hosting a special exhibit featuring one of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Rooms. It is an enclosed room lined with mirrors and filled with reflective balls.


The art museums in small cities often offer very nice collections, in a size that can be enjoyed during a short visit. The Memorial Art Gallery is a great example, and worth a visit if you are in the area.

Unicorn Family by Kota Ezawa

Creation Myth by Tom Otterness