press release

NEW YORK, May 2, 2006—The Museum of Modern Art presents Against the Grain: Contemporary Art from the Edward R. Broida Collection, an exhibition of more than 100 paintings, sculpture, drawings, and prints selected from Edward R. Broida's recent gift to the Museum of 175 works of art. The acquisition of these works, which were selected by the Museum’s curatorial staff at the invitation of Mr. Broida, dramatically enhances the Museum’s holdings of many artists and introduces important works by several artists new to the MoMA collection. More than 30 American and European artists are represented in the exhibition with works that date primarily from the 1960s through the present. Among the exceptional works exhibited from the Broida collection are the groups of works in a variety of mediums by Philip Guston, Vija Celmins, and Christopher Wilmarth, artists whom Mr. Broida collected in depth. On view from May 3 through July 10, 2006, the exhibition is organized by Ann Temkin, Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art.

Against the Grain: Contemporary Art from the Edward R. Broida Collection is installed in the second-floor Contemporary Galleries, which are configured to provide distinct spaces for the presentation of monographic installations of works by Guston, Celmins, Bruce Nauman, Ken Price, Joel Shapiro, Mark di Suvero, and Wilmarth, as well as other spaces in which works by Richard Artschwager, Martin Puryear, and Susan Rothenberg are displayed. The exhibition extends to The Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium, the site for Jennifer Bartlett’s Rhapsody (1975-76), a vast installation piece of nearly 1,000 steel panels, and to The Werner and Elaine Dannheisser Gallery outside the fourth-floor Painting and Sculpture galleries, where works by William Tucker are installed.

Mr. Broida, an architect and real estate developer who died last month at age 72, began collecting art as a self-acknowledged novice in the late 1970s. His first purchases were two paintings by Guston, whose work had departed from the abstraction for which he was known and returned to a more figurative style, a development that was considered unfashionable at the time. Mr. Broida subsequently assembled a significant number of works by Guston in a variety of mediums, concentrating in particular on the bold narrative style that Guston developed in the last decade of his life. Mr. Broida was also an early collector of works by Wilmarth and Celmins. Over the next three decades, with an instinctively singular vision, he developed a collection of some 700 objects notable for its great diversity of contemporary works of art.

“Edward Broida was widely admired for his passion and commitment to contemporary art, and for the close relationships he developed with many artists,” said MoMA Director Glenn D. Lowry. “His generosity as a Museum trustee, donor, and friend are evident in the gift of works he made to MoMA last year. The legacy of this generosity will be appreciated by all who visit this exhibition and who return to visit our permanent collection for generations to come.” "The installation honors Mr. Broida's penchant for collecting works by artists in depth, rather than merely one of this and one of that,” said Ann Temkin. “These single-artist constellations will allow our viewers a richer understanding of each artist's creative process." Rhapsody, a monumental painting consisting of 987 twelve-inch, hand-painted aluminum squares by Jennifer Bartlett (American, b. 1941), covers three walls of the Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium just outside the Contemporary Galleries. The panels include both representational and nonrepresentational sections, some of which are confined to one square only, others of which stretch over seven-by-seven-foot grids. Seven thematic sections—Introduction, Mountain, Line, House, Tree, Shape, and Ocean—can be read from left to right. Rhapsody’s grid formation and serial structure reference Minimalist tenets, but this aspect is offset by its colorful exuberance. At the center of the exhibition are two galleries of some 30 paintings, drawings, and prints by Philip Guston (American, b. Canada, 1913-1980), presenting a small retrospective of the artist’s career. The paintings in this section show this great mid-century artist at a very early moment with Gladiators (1940), which bears the influence and Social Realist style of the Mexican muralist painters, and comprehensively from 1969 to 1980, providing an in-depth look at Guston’s move away from abstraction and return to figurative painting late in his career. These late works often employ recurring signature figures, such as the seemingly innocent Ku Klux Klansmen in the paintings Edge of Town (1969) and A Day’s Work (1970).

The 40-year career of Vija Celmins (American, b. Latvia, 1938) is traced through some 15 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints in a monographic gallery devoted to her work. The installation ranges from rare works from the 1960s, such as the painted wood sculpture Puzzle (1965-66) and the painting Flying Fortress (1966), and later works such as the drawing Star Field III (1982-83) and the painting Web #3 (2000-02). To Fix the Image in Memory (1977-82) places eleven small stones and their duplicates, made of painted cast bronze, onto a surface, challenging the viewer to decipher the real from the manmade and to question the relevance of the distinctions between real object and copy, nature and art.

A gallery devoted to the sculpture of Christopher Wilmarth (American, 1943-1978) has as its centerpiece Tina Turner (1970-71), a series of four large industrial plates of glass aligned upright in succession to occupy a nearly 15-foot area. Wilmarth employed traditional materials of Minimalist practice—industrial glass and steel—but imbued these materials with a lyrical romanticism.

Mark di Suvero (American, b. 1933) is represented in a single gallery with four works dating from 1961 through 1997. Di Suvero once referred to his sculpture as “painting in three dimensions,” indicating that rough wooden beams were the sculptural equivalent of the wide, confident brushstrokes of the abstract expressionist painters. Early works by di Suvero, Eatherly’s Lamp (1961) and Measure Piece (1967), are joined in this gallery by the large-scale For Gonzalez (1973), a homage to 20th-century sculptor Julio Gonzalez, and a more recent sculpture, Cubo Arcane (1997).

A grouping of sculptures and works on paper by Joel Shapiro (American, b. 1948), all made from the late 1970s through the mid-1980s, show the artist evolving a group of forms and geometric volumes. At almost the same time that Guston was turning from an abstract language to one loaded with emotive content, Shapiro began to evolve a microcosm of objects based on simple geometric volumes and multisided forms that nonetheless evoked recognizable objects or human forms.

Ken Price (American, b. 1935) has been working almost exclusively in ceramic since the 1950s and is represented in the exhibition with an important group of recent works made since 1995. The works in this gallery assume asymmetrical, biomorphic shapes that resist viewers’ attempts to assign specific meanings to them, but do suggest meanings through imaginative titles. Arctic (1998) features a noselike shape with a red hole near the center, an unexpected feature that belies the smooth organic surface of the opposite side.

Seven Virtues/Seven Vices (1983-84), by Bruce Nauman (American, b. 1941)—the lone work in its gallery—comprises seven limestone slabs, six propped up against the walls and the seventh laid flat in the center of the gallery. Each stone is inscribed with the name of one of the seven deadly sins, or vices, as outlined in the Bible, paired with one of the four cardinal virtues as presented by Plato or one of the three Christian theological virtues. Virtue and vice are intertwined and superimposed upon one another—Prudence and Pride; Fortitude and Anger; Faith and Lust; Hope and Envy; Charity and Sloth; Temperance and Gluttony; and Justice and Avarice— in effect, canceling one another out.

Interwoven throughout the exhibition are groups of key works from contemporary artists whose careers Mr. Broida followed. The artists Richard Artschwager (American, b. 1923), Neil Jenney (American, b. 1945), Harvey Quaytman (American, 1937-2002), and Susan Rothenberg (American, b. 1945) are among the artists represented with paintings from the gift. Artschwager’s monochromatic Johnson Wax Building (1974) ostensibly replicates a newsprint image of the principal interior room of this Frank Lloyd Wright icon in Racine, Wisconsin. The documentary aspect of the replication is thwarted by swirling surfaces and gritty textures, leaving the viewer in doubt as to whether the work is actually a painting, a piece of newsprint, or a drawing. Jenney’s Biosphere #4 (1971-76), a more than twenty-one-foot long oil painting, is bordered by the distinctive heavy, dark frame with stenciled title that has appeared consistently in Neil Jenney’s work since 1969. Quaytman’s Ivory Sliver (1986) illustrates his repeated experiments with forms consisting of crossed lines. Rothenberg’s Triphammer Bridge (1974), from a series of several paintings which each took a single horse for its subject, features a blank, unnatural peach-colored setting that is typical of these works, as is the horse’s lack of specific anatomical features.

Mr. Broida’s taste as a collector focused on sculptors who employ commonplace or eccentric materials, organic forms, or poetic allusions. Roni Horn (American, b. 1955) is represented in the exhibition with Thicket No. 2 (1990), two aluminum rectangles that each bear the word “Tiger.” While the identical rectangles refer to Minimalism, the printed words, taken from William Blake’s poem “The Tiger,” add a conceptual dimension. Horsefly (1996-2000), by Martin Puryear (American, b. 1941), is the first work he created using glass, and is also composed of tar, wire, and steel.

The House of the Hanged Man (1981), by William Tucker (American, b. Egypt, 1935), has been installed in The Werner and Elaine Dannheisser Gallery outside the fourth-floor Painting and Sculpture galleries. With its triangular form of rough wood, the sculpture is representative of his works from the early 1980s. It is joined in this gallery by the bronze sculpture Demeter (1991), which references classical sculpture in its title, but is far from classically perfect.

PUBLICATION A catalogue accompanies the exhibition of paintings, sculpture, drawings, and prints from Edward R. Broida’s recent gift to the Museum of 175 contemporary works from his collection. The catalogue includes an introduction to the collection by John Elderfield, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, and an interview with Mr. Broida conducted by Ann Temkin, Curator of Painting and Sculpture. The plate section reproduces at least one work by each of the 38 artists included in the gift, and in many cases numerous works by one artist are shown. 8.5 x 9.6” trim, 120 pages; 81 color illustrations, $40.00. Distributed by DAP and Thames and Hudson. Available in the MoMA Stores and online at


Against the Grain: Contemporary Art from the Edward R. Broida Collection
Kurator: Ann Temkin

mit Richard Artschwager, Vija Celmins, Philip Guston, Roni Horn, Neil Jenney, Bruce Nauman, Ken Price, Martin Puryear, Harvey Quaytman, Susan Rothenberg, Joel Shapiro, Mark di Suvero, William Tucker, Christopher Wilmarth ...