Reframing Modernism at the New MOMA

Andrea K. Scott at The New Yorker:

Prunella Clough, a superbly weird British modernist who died in 1999, at the age of eighty, was fond of a quote by Édouard Manet: “Painting is like throwing oneself into the sea to learn to swim.” Looking at art can be like that, too—both a crash course and a full-body experience. Visitors to the newly renovated moma are invited to take that kind of plunge in the show “The Shape of Shape,” installed in a small gallery on the fifth floor, filled with an exhilarating abundance of seventy-one paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, and prints in the museum’s collection. They were selected by the voraciously smart Amy Sillman, a superbly weird painter herself (she contributes a blood-crimson wall work, equal parts shadow and viscera), who chose the catchall concept of “shape” because it’s off the grid, rarely discussed, as opposed to related principles like color or systems. Sillman muses in her introductory wall text that shape may be “too personal, too subjective, to be considered rigorously modern.” In keeping with the rehang throughout the new building, hidebound hierarchies of modernism are reconsidered. While the show doesn’t stint on acknowledged Masters (no Manet, but there is a Matisse), the emphasis is on oddballs like Clough, whose orphic 1985 painting “Stone” is included.

more here.