Hal Foster at the LRB:
Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic at the New York Times, calls the new design ‘smart, surgical, sprawling and slightly soulless’. I would take ‘slightly soulless’ over ‘aggressively spectacular’, and given the political controversies visited on other museums due to their problematic mega-donors (the opioid Sackler family, the anarcho-libertarian Koch brothers, the police-weapon magnate Warren Kanders, and other bad actors), such a review counts as a rave. And by and large the new MoMA is a success. Of course, there are some missteps. The walls darken in the Surrealist galleries, as though to warn us, through mood control, that here modernism plunges into the unconscious. The new MoMA is more open to campy artists like Florine Stettheimer, brutish figures like Jean Dubuffet, and erotic fantasists like Hans Bellmer, but it is still rather reserved about overtly political artists, whether of the right or the left (revolutionary Russians stand in for many others). And though the intermedial presentation of film and photography is an advance, the lived history of these media, as registered in a noisy projector or an old magazine, is mostly lost – the contemplative rituals of painting still predominate, albeit not as much as before. Apart from a magnificent array of Brancusi sculptures, which introduces the fifth floor, a forceful mix of Post-Minimalist objects, which opens the fourth floor, and the Serra installation, which lends needed gravitas to the contemporary galleries, sculpture is still treated as secondary.