Museum as Muse: Artists Reflect

Museum as Muse: Artists Reflect

by Kynaston McShine

View All Available Formats & Editions

Since public museums came into being in the late 18th century, artists have looked upon them with a mixture of reverence, complicity, suspicion, and disdain. In The Museum as Muse, artists of many persuasions speak their minds about museums, their functions and spaces, their practices and politics, and their relationship to the art they contain. More than 60


Since public museums came into being in the late 18th century, artists have looked upon them with a mixture of reverence, complicity, suspicion, and disdain. In The Museum as Muse, artists of many persuasions speak their minds about museums, their functions and spaces, their practices and politics, and their relationship to the art they contain. More than 60 artists are represented by a wide range of works: photographs of museum patrons by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Elliot Erwitt; "personal museums" and "cabinets of curiosities" by Charles Wilson Peale, Marcel Duchamp, and Claes Oldenburg; fantasies of the destruction or transformation of museums by Hubert Robert, Ed Ruscha, and Christo; and more, including works created especially for this project by contemporary artists, and an anthology of statements and writings by artists about museums. This volume was published to accompany an exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Product Details

The Museum of Modern Art
Publication date:

Meet the Author

Vito Acconci was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1940. Among the many public institutions that have hosted solo exhibitions of his work in the United States are the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. He has taught at Cooper Union, Parsons School of Design and Yale University.

Christian Boltanski was born in Paris in 1944. His numerous solo exhibitions include shows at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art & Design, in Kansas City, Missouri, and the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston. He has shown four times at the Venice Biennale. Boltanski is represented in New York by the Marian Goodman Gallery.

Belgian painter, sculptor, printmaker, draftsman, filmmaker and poet, Marcel Broodthaers was born in Brussels in 1924. With no artistic training, he turned to visual art in 1964 as an ironic gesture, and spent the 11 remaining years before his death in 1976 establishing himself, in more than 70 one-man exhibitions, as an artist of influential attitude and approach.

Daniel Buren was born in 1938 in Paris.

Sophie Calle was born in Paris in 1953. Since the 1980s, her work has been shown at galleries and museums throughout the world, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Tate Modern, London and Paris's Centre Pompidou, which hosted a major retrospective in 2005. In 2007, Calle represents France at the Venice Biennale.

Canadian artist Janet Cardiff, born in 1957, represented Canada at the 2001 Venice Biennale and was awarded a prize forher and George Bures Miller's work "The Paradise Institute." She has created site-specific audio and video works for a number of group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Sao Paulo Biennial; and the Carnegie International, among others.

Joseph Cornell was born Nyack, New York in 1903. This American sculptor was one of the pioneers and most celebrated exponents of assemblage—an artform influenced by the Surrealists. Cornell was best-known for his shadow boxes—relatively small constructions, within glass-fronted shallow boxes or frames, made of a wide variety of found objects, maps, photographs, engravings, and other materials. The Cornell boxes possess a unique visual magic, and their selection and arrangement are extraordinarily evocative and filled with personal symbolism. He was also an avant-garde and experimental filmmaker who lived New York City for most of his life in a frame house on Utopia Parkway in Queens, New York, with his mother and his brother, Robert. Cornell died in 1972.

Mark Dion was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1961. Since 1985, his work has been presented internationally, including at the Reina SofIa, Madrid; Kunsthalle Zurich; De Appel Foundation, Amsterdam; Bonner Kunstverein; the 47th Venice Biennale; the Vancouver Art Gallery; Hamburg Kunstverein; and the Wexner Center for the Arts. Dion is the recipient of the 2001 Larry Aldrich Foundation Award. He lives and works in Beach Lake, Pennsylvania.

Gunther Forg was born in 1952 in Germany. He exhibits at museums across Europe, showing work in a variety of materials and techniques, including painting, sculpture, ceramics, and photography. He is perhaps best known for his monochromatic paintings. Forg works in Switzerland.

Andrea Fraser was born in Billings, Montana, in 1965. A retrospective of her work was shown in the fall of 2003 at the Kunstverein in Hamburg; other solo exhibitions have been held at Friedrich Petzel Gallery and Pat Heart Gallery in New York, and the Vancouver Museum of Art. Her project Preliminary Prospectus for Corporations was included in Documenta_11. Fraser lives and works in New York.

Richard Hamilton was born in London in 1922. He studied painting and technical drawing at art schools in Londa throughout the 30s and 40s, and had his first one-man exhibition at Gimpel Fils in 1950. A founding member of the Independent Group, he organized numerous exhibitions and collaborated with such artists as Marcel Duchamp and Dieter Roth. A first, small retrospective of Hamilton's oeuvre was held in 1974 at the Guggenheim Museum, New York; a more comprehensive one was mounted in 1979 at the Tate Gallery.

Louise Lawler was born in Bronxville, New York, in 1947. She came to prominence in the 1980s with her own sophisticated and very postmodern brand of re-photographed artwork. She has had solo exhibitions at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C., among others. Lawler collaborated with Douglas Crimp on the seminal book The Museum's Ruins. She lives in New York.

El Lissitzky was born in 1890 and died in 1941. One of the founders of Constructivism, he created, in addition to his geometric pictorial compositions, placard designs, avant-garde architectural projects and pioneering photographic work.

Vik Muniz was born in S o Paulo, Brazil in 1961. He currently lives and works in New York City. He is tremendously prolific, having had five major international solo shows in the U.S., Spain, Japan, Italy, and Brazil in the past year alone. In addition, he has exhibited at the Whitney Museum, New York; the Centre National de la Photographie, Paris; the Irish Museum of Art, Dublin; and the Venice Biennale, as well as in group exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Gallery, London; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He is the subject of a recent documentary film, The Worst Possible Illusion, which aired in film festivals and on PBS.

Born into a diplomatic family in 1929 in Stockholm, Sweden, Claes Oldenburg lived in the United States and Norway before settling in Chicago in 1936, and becoming a citizen in 1953. He studied Literature and Art History at Yale University and Studio Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1956, he moved to New York and met several artists making early Performance work, including George Brecht, Allan Kaprow, George Segal and Robert Whitman. Oldenburg soon became a prominent figure in Happenings and Performance art during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Over the past three decades, his work has been the subject of many solo exhibitions, including at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Oldenburg lives in New York.

Ed Ruscha was born in 1937 in Omaha, Nebraska and grew up in Oklahoma City. In 1956 he moved to Los Angeles, where he attended the Chouinard Art Institute. His work has been the subject of exhibits at the Centre George Pompidou, Paris, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Robert Smithson was born in 1938 in Passaic, New Jersey. Best known for his provocative earthwork Spiral Jetty, made in 1970, Smithson's work continues to be exhibited in museums both nationally and internationally. He is featured prominently in major museum collections such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Guggenheim Museum, New York, and The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo. Smithson died in 1973.

Fred Wilson was born in the Bronx in 1954. The recipient of a 1999 MacArthur Foundation "genius" award, he has presented solo exhibitions at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Wilson collaborated with UC Berkeley graduate students in art history, studio art and anthropology to create an exhibition working with the collections of the Berkeley Art Museum and Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology for an exhibition that traveled to museums and universities around the United States through 2004.

Hans Haacke was born in 1936 in Cologne and has lived in New York since 1965. His work is in the permanent collections of such institutions as the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Tate Modern and the Stedlijk Museum, and has been exhibited in several Documentas, as well as the Whitney Biennial.

Larry Fink has been the recipient of two Guggenheim fellowships and two NEA grants, and has had solo shows at The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others. He shows regularly in New York, Los Angeles and Paris, and his work appears in magazines including Vanity Fair, GQ and The New Yorker. He has taught at Bard College since 1988.

Henri Cartier-Bresson was born in France in 1908. He studied painting and then began to photograph in the early 1930s. After escaping from prison camp in 1943, he made portraits of artists, covered the liberation of Paris and filmed a documentary on the return of war prisoners. In 1947, the year he had his first show at MoMA, he also founded Magnum Photos with Robert Capa, George Rodger and David Seymour. Not long after, he began in earnest the life of a traveling photographer, working in India, Burma, Pakistan, Indonesia, China, Japan, Mexico and Cuba. His first, defining book The Decisive Moment was published by Teriade in 1952. By the late 60s, he had almost ceased making reportage to re-embrace his first passion, drawing. Cartier-Bresson created his Foundation in Paris in 2003, and passed away in 2004.

Candida Hofer was born in 1944 in Germany, and was a graduate of the Becher class at the Dusseldorf Art Academy.

Thomas Struth was born in 1954 in Gelden, Germany, He studied painting with Gerhard Richter and photography with Bernd Becher at the Dusseldorf Art Academy. His work has been exhibited internationally at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Saint Louis Art Museum; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. In 1997 he was awarded the Spectrum International Photography Prize.

Hiroshi Sugimoto was born in Tokyo in 1948. He studied photography at the Center College of Design in Los Angeles before moving to New York in the 70s. His work has been exhibited internationally, including at the Berkeley Art Museum, California; the 10th Biennial of Sydney, Australia; capc MusEe de l'Art Contemporain, Bordeaux; the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh; the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Jeff Wall was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1946. He received his MA from the University of British Columbia in 1970, with a thesis on Berlin Dada. He studied with T.J. Clark at London's Courtauld Institute from 1970-1973, and worked as a writer until 1977, when he made his first lightboxes. In 2006, Wall received the prestigious Hasselblad Award, putting him in the company of such photographers as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Ansel Adams. A major traveling retrospective stopped at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Art Institute of Chicago and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2007 and 2008.

Garry Winogrand was born in 1928 and raised in the Bronx. After high school and two years in the army, he briefly studied painting at Columbia University until a friend showed him the darkroom in the basement of the schoolis architecture building. iI never looked back,i he later said. For some years he worked as a freelance photojournalist and in advertising; by the 1960s his distinctive themes and style had begun to emerge. The Museum of Modern Art first substantially showed his work in 1963, and later held two one-man exhibitions, The Animals, in 1969, and Public Relations, in 1976. Winogrand received three Guggenheim fellowships for special photographic projects. He taught at Chicagois Institute of Design and then for five years at the University of Texas in Austin. In 1978 he moved to Los Angeles, where he took pictures incessantly. Although Winogrand was an articulate and conscientious teacher, he resisted talking about his own photography. iThe artist is irrelevant once the work exists,i he said. iAll there is is the pictures.i Winogrand died in 1984.

Conceptual artist Michael Asher emerged in the late 1960s. He has had exhibitions at the Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, Holland, and The Art Institute of Chicago. Asher has also been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

Lothar Baumgarten was born in 1944 in Rheinsberg, Germany. His work has been exhibited extensively in Europe at the Witte de With, Rotterdam; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and in North America at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Kynaston McShine is Acting Chief Curator of the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Zoe Leonard was born in Liberty, New York, in 1961. She has had major solo exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Tate Modern in London, among many other venues. Her work was featured at Documenta 12, 2007.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >