MOMA @ the NGV

Authored by B Mataua


Exclusive to the National Gallery Victoria, the MOMA exhibited and loaned over 200 iconic works that tracked significant artistic innovation from the late 19th century to the present day. Exhibiting paintings, sculpture, prints and significant digital works that have influenced popular culture over the last two centuries.


The small narrow hallway then opened up into a large room that was filled with works from the readymade Marcel Duchamp, Futurist Boccioni, Cubist Braque and other significant European artists. The development of art is seen and felt in this large open room where film was emerging as a significant digital art form, the readymade by Duchamp was creating new ideas and thoughts on how art was made. You look to the left of the room as you enter and immediately confronted with a large bronze sculpture by Umberto Boccioni Unique forms of continuity in Space that comments on the fifth dimension of space and time. Your eye is then immediately drawn to Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel, a piece (with the Fountain) defined the readymade movement that so heavily influenced American Contemporary Art.


Found objects that could be repurposed and created to form a sculptural piece that accurately represented industry, machinery and the beauty of the readymade object echoing the Bauhaus Form before Function motto.


High on the walls where Giacomo Bella’s Swifts: paths of movement and dynamic sequences put to the canvas the ideas that were being toyed with in sculpture. The emergence of the 16mm film camera and its possibilities, including playing with the film itself during the editing & splicing process not only brought a physical aspect to film but a digital one as well. Fernard Leger’s Ballet mecanique filmed in 1924 showed on a 12 minute loop in silent black and white.


Architecture made a presence with Le Corbusier’s This is not architecture charcoal drawing on paper that reflected contemporary theoretical ideas arguing classical architectural forms were “styles” and not architecture instead opting for a “universal” and “ideal” form that celebrated material and form not elaborate stylistic classical forms that masked the raw material underneath.


Le Corbusier and Gropius were artists who felt that the dynamism of machinery including film, planes and more was epitomised in the industrial culture of the United States, even touring the auto factories in Detroit. A theme that persists in contemporary modern artists such as Carlos Diaz, fascinated with the material of industry. The large room then shoots off to a smaller rectangular room that features Bauhaus artists – a continuation of Le Corbusier’s obsession of the ideal universal form celebrating form, colour, geometric shape, clean lines and abstract forms instead exploring colour, plane, form and depth in new innovative ways. Often termed geometric abstraction, these ideas came out in their paintings, furniture and sculptural works.


What came out of the Bauhaus movement was the emergence of the printed works (dating back to Marcel Duchamps brother Villon in late 19th-century Paris) specifically Lithography. Lithography was used to showcase upcoming exhibitions and copies of works that was easily transportable but did not take away from the artistic process allowing a variety of strong colours that could be copied and distributed. These beginning works are significant to the DKH Gallery as print works are our focus.


With the onset of WWII, contemporary art shifted focus to New York and Los Angeles where Marcel Duchamp brought his ideas of the readymade were appropriated by American artists in a new innovative way combining commercialism with the idea of urban industry creating a distinctive American art form. These ideas were adopted by John Cage, Rauschenburg, Kaprow, Oldenburg, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol, artists that were featured heavily in the next large room. This room was by far a favourite with D. Arbus works on the right hand wall adjacent to the large Crying Girl by Roy Lichtenstein with Oldenburg’s soft sculpture taking centre stage, leading the eye to the iconic Marilyn silkscreen paintings by Andy Warhol. Significant works in pop art that prevail in importance and relevance today, commenting on popular culture and consumerism following WWII and the prosperous 1950’s America.


The exhibition than proceeded into a low ceiling room that was filled with tech from pac man video game simulations to the LED lightbulb illuminating a wall of prints. This proceeded the final room that was filled with pieces and works hat seemed to sum up the major theme of the exhibition: industry, abstraction, colour, pop art and form with various lithographic works and posters of major exhibitions showcasing a variety of artists from futurism, constructivism, pop art, Bauhaus and more.


An interactive exhibition, the works touched on many aspects that have shaped the contemporary art today. All the while exploring themes that remain relevant and current. Although this blog only touched on what an extraordinary exhibit it was, an in-depth look can be found on the NGV website, the MOMA website and in our digital downloads with DKH approved written critique on the above exhibition. Although this was a late blog regarding this exhibition, the works exhibited tie perfectly into the works that are showcased in our next blog out tomorrow! Subscribe for more updates on our scooter girl blog.


Future scooter girl adventures include an exhibition in Italy, the latest NGV exhibition in Melbourne and an aspiring local artists rise in the Melbourne suburbs. Subscribe on our main page for consistent updates.


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