Building 5 Through the Years

In just a couple of weeks, Sanford Biggers’ show The Cartographer’s Conundrum will be at MASS MoCA. With another exciting installation about to take place in our giant Building 5 gallery, we thought we’d take a look back at some of the shows that have graced this enormous space in the past.

1999-2000: The 1/4 Mile or 2 Furlong Piece

In 1999, Robert Rauschenberg’s extensive work was our first major exhibit in the space. This self-contained collage-like retrospective of mixed media also served as the setting for MASS MoCA’s grand opening gala.


2001-2003: 14 Stations

In 2001, Robert Wilson’s sculptural installation 14 Stations filled the space. It was a seminal interpretation of the Via Crucis or “Way of the Cross”- referring to the moments of passion Christ experienced en route to crucifixion. Visitors could peer into each structure to experience the different scenes and figures along the way.


2004-2005: Inopportune

A few years later, nine exploding cars took over the 300 foot long gallery, suspended from the ceiling with multicolored rods shooting in all directions. This dramatic stop-motion moment served as the centerpiece for Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang’s show Inopportune.


2007-2008: Projections

In 2007, Jenny Holzer transformed the space with large-scale projections of selected poetry by Wislawa Szymborska. Coupled with giant bean bags scattered throughout the room, visitors were invited to sit back and absorb the surreal landscape and accompanying messages.


2008-2009: The Nanjing Particles

In 2008, English conceptual artist Simon Starling animated the huge exhibition space with large sculptural forms derived from microscopic particles.


2009-2010: Gravity is a Force to be Reckoned With

A year later, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle explored the failings of Modernism with his upside-down glass house. The exhibit was based on Mies van der Rohe’s uncompleted project The House With Four Columns (1951), a square structure open to view on all four sides through glass walls. Everything hung in suspension and a phone rang off the hook.


Up next…. Stay tuned for Sanford Biggers’ show, opening on February 4, 2012!


Here’s to many more amazing shows in the future!



Posted January 23, 2012 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Exhibitions, Inigo Manglano-Ovale, Katharina Grosse, Simon Starling

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Disney Recycles–and We Don’t Mean Plastics

Disney recycles, just probably not in the way you are thinking!  They may recycle old bottles and newspapers, however they definitely recycle animation.  Artist Oliver Laric points this out in his documentary Versions, featured in our Memery exhibit.  Take a couple of deep breaths before watching because the evidence may taint your image of the “Wonderful World of Disney” (:45-2min):

Versions highlights the widespread re-usage of images throughout the history of art, so don’t worry, Disney isn’t only at fault.  However, Laric emphasizes how such recycling of images is iconoclastic in that the art that was once unique loses much of its significance as it is re-mediated.  These Disney segments are shocking because their originality and individual magic has been undermined, essentially leaving them simply as versions of one another, hence the title of the documentary.

Though Disney is not the only one reusing images and animation, it is quite rampant through their history.  Here are some other examples of Disney’s recycling habits.

Guilty:  Robin Hood, Aristocats, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, the list goes on and on and this vid exposes them all!

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Posted December 28, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Exhibitions, Memery

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Sol LeWitt Here + There

One of the most fascinating aspects of a Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing is that it can never be the same from one exhibit to another.

Every time a Wall Drawing is put on display, a group of draftsmen paint or draw a new interpretation of the piece.  In following Conceptual Art, when the idea behind the art takes precedence over the actual piece of artwork, LeWitt writes a set of directions of how to create each piece of artwork.  The directions drive the art process.

Before creating the new piece, wherever the Wall Drawing is currently located must be painted over so it no longer exists in that setting.  Even if MASS MoCA wanted to relocate one of our Wall Drawings, the artwork cannot be moved, it must be repainted in the new space.

Only one official interpretation of a Wall Drawing can exist at one time; once the previous one has been painted over, the draftsmen are free to start their work.  The draftsmen then use LeWitt’s directions to create their interpretation.  However, every draftsman and every space is different, meaning that each time a Sol LeWitt is put on display, it is inherently unique.

Check out how varied, and at times similar, Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings can be even when they are rooted in the same directions!

Wall Drawing 146A at MASS MoCA.  The “A” in 146A refers to the original (146) being white wall with blue crayon and this piece having blue walls with white crayon.

146 at the Guggenheim in NYC in 1972.
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Posted December 21, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under An Exchange with Sol LeWitt, BLOG

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The Mango Tourists on Vacation

We asked visitors:  If Nari Ward’s Mango Tourists could be taken out of the museum and put anywhere, where would you put them?

  • Jamaica—At a Beach w/ Piña Coladas
  • Hanging upside down from the floor of the 3rd level of the Eiffel Tower
  • In a thunderstorm cloud
  • In a garden
  • In my front yard with Christmas Lights all around
  • Africa
  • I would put it on the museum roof
  • In my memory
  • Central Park! It would be cool to start a Sculpture Garden
  • Somerville, MA
  • Pier 6, NY, NY
  • Downtown North Adams Outside Park area
  • Hollywood!
  • In Lindenlea Park in Ottawa, ON
  • Along the wooded path at the Clark
  • A Parisian sculpture garden
  • Paris Pyramid Entrance to the Louvre
  • I like it where it is! (so do we!)
For now they’ll be at MASS MoCA until April 3, 2012.  Come visit the Mango Tourists!

Posted December 12, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Nari Ward: Sub Mirage Lignum
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Our Fellow Friends

Yesterday, the 50 USA Fellows for 2011 were announced and we are proud to say we have worked with six of them (That’s 12%!)

Once a year, the philanthropic organization United States Artists selects 50 exceptional artists as fellows, giving them $50,000 each. Fellows are nominated by an anonymous group, which changes each year, consisting of individuals who are well versed in the arts and live throughout the United States. Prizes are awarded to artists in Architecture & Design, Crafts & Traditional Arts, Dance, Literature, Media, Music, Theater Arts, and Visual Arts.

According to the official USA website, artists must have: “Expert artistic skills, Artistic education or training (formal or informal), A history of deriving income from those skills, A history of active engagement in creating artwork and presenting it to the public.”

Are you familiar with any of our friends?!

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Posted December 7, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under Awards, BLOG, Inigo Manglano-Ovale
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Why Love Sol LeWitt?

Today is the 3 year anniversary of the opening of MASS MoCA’s Sol LeWitt:  a Wall Drawing Retrospective!

As you may have noticed, we really love Sol LeWitt at MASS MoCA.  This is partially because we house his retrospective, which includes over 100 Wall Drawings, the majority of which LeWitt hand selected for the exhibit.  But also because LeWitt was a father of conceptual art, an innovator, as well as a comical and philosophical individual.

Here are some Sol LeWitt facts that show why we love him so much and what makes him truly unique: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted November 16, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Exhibitions, LeWitt
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