The Exuberance of MOMA’s Expansion

Peter Schjeldahl at The New Yorker:

The Vatican, Kremlin, and Valhalla of modernism—home of the faith, the sway, and the glamour—that is the Museum of Modern Art is reopening, after an expansion that adds forty-seven thousand square feet and many new galleries, inserted into an apartment tower next door and built on neighboring land gobbled from the late, by some of us lamented, digs of the American Folk Art Museum. Far more, though still a fraction, of moma’s nonpareil collection is now on display, arranged roughly chronologically but studded with such mutually provoking juxtapositions as a 1967 painting that fantasizes a race riot, by the African-American artist Faith Ringgold, with Picasso’s gospel “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (1907). The renovation is a big deal for the global art world, and certainly for New York. It runs up against problems old and new. Generously enlarged quarters will only marginally relieve a chronic crush of visitors, the museum victimized by its own charisma. Enhanced representations of art by women, African-Americans, Africans, Latin-Americans, and Asians can feel tentative, pitched between self-evident justice and noblesse oblige. But such efforts are important and must continue. We will have a diverse cosmopolitan culture or none worth bothering about.

more here.