MoMA Swiftly Reinstalled One of Its Galleries to Feature Works by Artists Born in Present-Day Ukraine
The show is titled "In Solidarity."
Museums are not known for their nimble response to current events—especially not museums as large as New York’s Museum of Modern Art. But when MoMA makes a statement, the art world notices. And over the weekend, the New York institution’s curatorial team opted to turn over one of its permanent collection galleries to artists born in present-day Ukraine.
The gallery, titled “In Solidarity,” includes many well-known Eastern European figures: Kazimir Malevich, Ilya Kabakov, Sonia Delaunay-Terk. Others, like Louise Nevelson, Milton Resnick, Janet Sobel, and Arthur Fellig (better known as the photographer Weegee) found fame after they emigrated to cities like Paris and Germany. A great deal of the featured artists, the museum notes, are of Jewish descent and “found safe haven from persecution in New York City.”
The dynamic and propulsive sculpture Symphony Number 1 (1913) by Vladimir Baranoff-Rossiné anchors the room, connecting the abstract, handmade, and industrial aesthetics nearby. Louise Nevelson’s monochromatic black sculpture is juxtaposed with the colorful geometry of Sonia Delaunay-Terk’s work, bringing together the everyday and the mystical.
In a statement, the museum said it assembled these vast examples of artistry “as a statement of solidarity with, and in tribute to, the people of Ukraine.”
MoMA previously answered current events with its collection when it swiftly integrated work by artists from the Muslim-majority countries affected by Trump’s travel ban into its galleries in 2017.
In the new “In Solidarity” gallery, a poem by the beloved Ukrainian author Serhiy Zhadan is framed alongside a translation from Ukrainian by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin.
Read the poem below, and then get a closer look at the works on view.
Let’s start with what’s most difficult—with singing
and quenching the fires emerging from the night.
Let’s start by whispering the names,
let’s weave together the vocabulary of death.
To stand and talk about the night.
Stand and listen to the voices
of shepherds in the fog
incanting over every single
Почнімо з найтяжчого — зі співу й гасіння вогню,
який підступає з ночі.
Почнімо із шепотіння імен,
виплітаймо разом цю лексику смерті.
Стояти і говорити про ніч.
Стояти і наслухати з туману
що оспівують кожну
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