After a four-month-long closure and a $450 million renovation that has been years in the making the Museum of Modern Art in New York opened to members of the press on Thursday morning, October 10.
The reopening is perhaps this season’s most anticipated art event, and it occasionally lives up to the hype. In the run-up to the reopening, the museum promised that its new hang would redefine modern art. Reports ahead of the hang’s unveiling teased shocking combinations of old and new, and though some can be found (a particularly jarring one involves a famed Picasso alongside a great Faith Ringgold canvas), the permanent collection still follows a roughly chronological ordering of art history.
The results are less than earth-shattering. Mediums are frequently separated, and the histories of non-Western art that MoMA wants to tell are left incomplete—the curators have made subtle, superb changes to the way it presents art from Latin America and Eastern Europe, though it has dealt less successfully with art from Asia, Africa, and Oceania, as well as work by indigenous artists.
Still, there are some stunning juxtapositions and surprises along the way to be savored, for visiting the new MoMA after a months-long closure is akin to seeing a friend for a the first time in a while. Among the best parts of the hang is a room dedicated to the work and social circle of American artist Florine Stettheimer, who until the past few years has languished in the margins of art history. Another strong moment is the appearance of José Clemente Orozco’s six-panel fresco Dive Bomber and Tank, which the artist painted live at MoMA in 1940.
Below are the highlights from the museum’s fifth floor, which showcases work from the 1880s through the 1940s. (Parts 2 and 3, looking at the work on MoMA’s fourth and second floors, will be published in the coming days.)
The museum will officially reopen to the public on Monday, October 21, so mark your calendars.