Space Modulators

(Left) Joyce Tsai, Photo: Joshua Navarro. (Right) László Moholy-Nagy, B-10 Space Modulator, 1942. Oil on incised and molded Plexiglas, mounted with chromium clamps on painted plywood, Plexiglas: 17 3/4 × 12 inches (45.1 × 30.5 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection 47.1063 © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.

(Left) Joyce Tsai, Photo: Joshua Navarro. (Right) László Moholy-Nagy, B-10 Space Modulator, 1942. Oil on incised and molded Plexiglas, mounted with chromium clamps on painted plywood, Plexiglas: 17 3/4 × 12 inches (45.1 × 30.5 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection 47.1063 © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.

Joyce Tsai will be giving a talk, “Modulating Modernism“, tonight at 6:30 at our Center for the Study of Modern Art.

László Moholy-Nagy’s Space Modulators (a great example at the Guggenheim, right), executed late in his career, are beautiful, but slightly odd painting/sculpture hybrids made in clear plastic. I came across them while I was researching his oeuvre for my book, Painting after Photography, and was drawn to them because they look so radically different from the photography and rigorous, geometrical abstract painting he made at the Bauhaus. These late works on plastic are biomorphic, replete with undulating curves and are difficult to categorize for all sorts of reason. They’re materially fragile, prone to damage, and age unpredictably. The more I worked on these objects, the more I began to see how important they were to the artist, how much they sought to synthesize his life’s work.

Joyce Tsai, 2013-2014 Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Modern Art and the George Washington University

Rothko Packed Them to the Rafters!

Photo: Sarah Osborne Bender

Last night, Klaus Ottmann, director of the Center for the Study of Modern Art and curator at large, gave his talk Rothko and Color: A Two-Part Meditation to a packed house of 275 attendees. The auditorium was filled to capacity, standing room filled. Even our overflow seating outside of the auditorium was brimming, with people sitting on the floor and lining the walls. With our permanently installed Rothko Room, the special hanging at the National Gallery of Art, and the impending opening of John Logan’s play Red at Arena Stage, D.C. is fully embracing Mark Rothko’s exploration of the experience of color.

Alfredo Jaar

Alfredo Jaar gives the Duncan Phillips Lecture

Artist Alfredo Jaar presenting the Duncan Phillips Lecture on October 3, 2010.

As a fine art student at Virginia Commonwealth University, I was lucky enough to hear visiting artist Alfredo Jaar speak in 1991 about his installation piece Geography=War (1990). This work was comprised of enlarged color photo transparencies mounted on light-boxes that hung face-down from the ceiling, reflected in the surfaces of large oil drums filled with water. The installation spaces were dark and viewers had to keep moving around the work in order to read the images in full. The reward for such physical engagement was Jaar’s powerful photographs of ravaged landscapes and people enslaved to environmentally destructive labor. He was a passionate and captivating speaker and demonstrated that the world can be changed by the messages we create with our art.

Jaar gave another inspiring talk as part of the Duncan Phillips Lectures in October 2010. If you missed it in person, be sure to listen to it here.