Favorites From MoMA

Toward the end of winter break, I had the opportunity to visit The Museum of Modern Art to gather some inspiration before heading back into this semester.

I am the type of person who can wander around museums endlessly taking in all there is to see, but these three artists stopped me in my tracks.

Edwards used this series to respond to the legacy of oppression towards African Americans in the United States. The weight of each piece is matched by their materiality, as Edwards used steel to create these welded forms. Each piece is mounted at eye level, confronting the viewer face to face with imagery of twisted chains, locks, handcuffs, and farming equipment that cast a complicated shadow on the wall behind it.

Information from MoMA

This untitled piece by American artist Lee Bontecou is a prime example of mixed media sculpture. To create this piece Bontecou utilized canvas from conveyor belts discarded by her local laundromat. She then stretched her canvas over welded steed armatures and attached them using copper wire. She also utilized fabric and rawhide and manipulated the surfaces using soot. This piece is both menacing and inviting, sizable enough to swallow the viewer whole. The void reflects the artists intense anxiety as it was created the same year as the Bay of Pigs Invasion in Cuba, early construction of the Berlin Wall, and the US commitment to send its first troops to Vietnam.

Information from MoMA

“My Concern is to build things that express out relation to this country… to other worlds to glimpse some of the fear, hope, ugliness, beauty, and mystery that exists in us all and which hangs over all the young people today.”

Lee Bontecou MoMA
Robert Rauschenberg Canyon 1959

Located on the flip side of the wall as Bontecou’s piece hangs Rauschenberg’s Canyon. This piece is also rich with a variety of materials including oil, pencil, paper, metal, photograph, fabric, wood, canvas, buttons, mirror, cardboard, pillow, paint tube, taxidermied eagle, and more. Like Bontecou, Rauschenberg repurposed materials he found in New York. One day he stumbled upon a taxidermied eagle his friend and fellow artist Sari Dienes found in a pile of discarded belongings from Carnegie Hall. This eagle was given new life as the center of Rauschenberg’s Canyon.

While I interpreted this piece as commentary on wastefulness in the United States with the eagle balancing on a weighted scale, other interpretations include the Greek myth of Ganymede. Rauschenberg included an image of his son on the left hand side which may represent the beautiful young boy from the myth who was abducted by Zeus in the form of an eagle.

Information from MoMA

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