Friday, February 17, 2017

"This work is by an artist from a nation whose citizens are being denied entry into the United States . . ."

Detail of drawing by Teheran-born Charles Hossein Zenderoudi. Scroll down for the full view of the work and more info

The fifth-floor galleries at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City hold a wealth of Western art history from the late 1800s to the 1950s. It is there you’ll find tourists clustered around Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Rousseau’s The Sleeping Gypsy, along with rooms of paintings and sculpture by Matisse and Picasso. In those galleries you’ll now (and for the foreseeable future) also see works from the collection by artists who were born in Muslim-majority countries.

The additions are intentional and timely. Indeed they are a direct response to President 45’s executive order banning entry to the U.S. from seven primarily Muslim countries. The postscript on the wall card next to each of seven works contains this statement: “This work is by an artist from a nation whose citizens are being denied entry into the United States, according to a presidential executive order issued on January 27, 2017. This is one of several such artworks from the Museum’s collection installed throughout the fifth-floor galleries to affirm the ideals of welcome and freedom as vital to this Museum as they are to the United States.”

Now wipe that tear out of the corner of your eye and come with me. I went looking for these works, and this post shows you what I found.

In the lobby: Sculptor by the Iranian-born American sculptor, Siah Armajani (born 1939), Elements Number 30, 1990. Photo: Robert Gerhardt/MoMA


On the fifth floor: In a small anteroom to the larger galleries, we come face to face with the square Untitled piece by Marcos Grigorian (1924-2007), who was born in Russia and lived in Iran, the United States, and Canada
All photos mine unless indicated otherwise

Margos Grigorian, Untitled, dried earth on canvas

The mandala-like composition of this painting is what drew me to it initially, but upon reflection it is the material that compels. The artist used earth. Whetever Grigorian's intention was in making it, I can't tell you, but is there a better physical metaphor for the free passing through borders than the stuff that covers our planet?   

Faramaz Pilaran (1937-1982), Iranian, Laminations (Les Lames), 1962; gouache, metallic paint, and stamped ink on paper

The wall card with information about Pilaram
Below: view of the gallery where the work, at left, is installed


Ibrahim El-Salahi (born 1930), Sudanese, The Mosque, 1964, oil on canvas

Installation of The Mosque, with information about the work and the artist below


Parviz Tanavoli (born 1937), Iranian and Canadian, The Prophet, 1964, bronze on wood base

Below: Closer view of the sculpture, which is cast from architectural elements, such as fountains and grillwork. The wall text tells us that Tanavoli, like his countryman Pilaran, was a member of the Sixties circle known as Saqqakhaneh, "a Farsi term referring to commemorative public water fountains often densely decorated and surrounded by metal grills."


Tala Madani (born 1981), Iranian living in Los Angeles, Chit Chat, 2007, video (silent), 2:38 minutes

I have a short video of this video but no idea how to upload it to Blogger. The best I can do is post the wall card that tells you more:

Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, (born 1937), Sudanese, Mon Pere et Moi (My Father and I), 1962

Installation view of Mon Pere et Moi with Matisse paintings and sculpture
Below: Detail of the work and info from the wall text


Installation of a painting by Zaha Hadid (1950-2016)

Below: The Peak, Hong Kong, Project, 1991, exterior perspective, synthetic polymer on paper mounted on canvas

I'll be honest, I wonder about the inclusion of this work since this is a view of a project that the late architect never realized. However the wall text, posted below, makes a case for it


Shirana Shahbazi (born 1974), Iranian-born now living and working in Zurich, Composition-40-2011;
shown next to Marcel Duchamp construction

Though I neglected to photograph the wall text for Shahbazi, a quick MoMA search revealed that Shahbazi creates "vividly colored pictures made in the crisp style of commercial studio photography without the aid of digital tools." I love the juxtaposition of these two works, the three circular elements in each and the triangular geometry.

Read more about this exhibition
. Artnet 
. ArtNews
. New York Times
. New York Times, different version of same article
. Vox

Related Story: Davis Museum in Wellesley, Massachusetts, removes all work by immigrants. 
Through Presidents' Day, all work made or donated by immigrants has been removed from display.
Read more:
. Hyperallergic