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New Left Review 4, July-August 2000


Time was when New York’s Museum of Modern Art plumed itself as an uncompromising guardian of Modernism. The arrival of its ‘themed’ re-hang—mimicked now at London’s Tate Modern—reduces a hundred years of defiguration to a stroll through an aesthetic department store.

FRANCO MORETTI

MoMA2000: THE CAPITULATION

I

A few months ago, The Museum of Modern Art of New York had a very large exhibition, entitled ‘modernstarts’. So large, in fact, that it was not shown alongside the permanent collections but instead of them (it occupied all three floors of the Museum). Given that ‘modernstarts’ was just the beginning of the ‘MoMA2000’ project, and that the MoMA itself will move into a new building in four or five years, when the Statement from the Director spoke of ‘a unique opportunity for the Museum to literally reconfigure many of its galleries’, it was clear what was happening: they were trying to imagine a Modernism for the twenty-first century. What would it look like?

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