The MoMA will close its doors on 53rd Street in New York from June, and for four months, to complete a series of renovations that have been possible thanks to generous donations from, among others, the producer David Geffen and the late magnate David Rockefeller, whose donation of 200 million dollars was announced yesterday. Rockefeller was part of the board of directors of MoMA for much of his life, but his relationship with the institution came from birth: one of the founders of the museum was his mother, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, who also gives name to the sculpture garden that decades behind was the house where David himself was born.
The intention of the renovation is not only to expand the space of the museum and reconfigure the lobby to improve the circulation of the hundreds of visitors who walk through its rooms every day, but, above all, to give the opportunity to lesser-known artists to be exposed together with Picasso and Van Gogh. "We do not want to forget our roots in that we have the largest modernist collection," explained Leon Black, president of the institution, "The New York Times," but the museum did not emphasize women artists, nor what they were doing. minorities, in addition to being limited in geographical terms. If those were the exceptions before, now they should be part of the reality of the multicultural society in which we all live. "
When it reopens its doors on October 21, two of the first exhibitions that avid New Yorkers can visit will be those of African-American artists Pope L., which raises issues of race, gender and immigration in their works, and the nonagenarian Betye Saar , who was part of the Black Arts Movement in the seventies and through collage and assembly explores the daily life of racism. Another novelty will be that every six to nine months the art of each gallery will be rotated, which will allow exposing a large part of the permanent collection of the museum and thus include artists who until now have been somewhat forgotten, such as the Japanese photographer Shigeru Onishi or the Haitian painter Hervé Télémaque.
This new MoMA address reminds us of the groundbreaking trend with which it was founded in 1929. As the historian Lucy Hughes-Hallett explains, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller was determined to found a museum that would expose "the art of our time," as they used to say " indomitable young ladies, "that is how the three founders of MoMA, Abby Rockefeller, Lillie Bliss and Mary Quinn Sullivan, were known. To achieve this, he advised the High Commissioner for the Arts of France, of whom he was a friend and to whom he sent a letter asking him to name the young painters of his country who had not yet landed in the United States.
It was important that they were still strangers in New York, among other things, because the wife of the richest man in the United States had no way of paying the most famous artists. "My husband is not interested at all in modern painting, so I have to go into this myself alone and modestly," he wrote to his French friend. One of the works that could be allowed was a small painting by Henri Matisse.
In fact, it could be said that Aldrich Rockefeller's passion for painting not only achieved the creation of the New York museum visited by around three million people each year, but it was she who taught the Rockefellers to love and support art. And while she came from a family of millionaires of refined taste, the Rockefellers did not believe in investing in art, according to Hughes-Hallett.
"The idea of spending money on useless objects seemed ridiculous to her (her husband's father, John D. Rockefeller) and morally suspicious. His son absorbed these ideas, but for Abby it was evident that 'art enriches the spiritual life, besides being good for the nerves'. To her, the need to buy came from family, "the historian writes. Thus, this reconfiguration of space and the concept of the museum coincides with the "indomitable" spirit of its founder.