Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Modern Art that Doesn't Suck

One of our stops in the Berkshires was Mass Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA). It's become a "must do" for the family every time we're in the area. It is our favorite modern art museum (museum of modern art, that is) and it always has at least one installation that makes us gasp with wonder. The first time Bruce took me there, the installation that got us was a huge, football field sized, room that had machines that would randomly drop pieces of paper from the ceiling. By the time we got there, the paper was up to our knees and we spent a good few hours in there playing in piles of paper. It was truly magical.

The museum is housed in a former factory complex. I'm not entirely sure what the exact story is, but somehow when the manufacturing industry moved out of North Adams, the town, or somebody else turned the factory in the center of the town into a huge, gorgeous art museum.

Here are Ella and Georgia in the reading room. You may have to look closely to find them. The room is full of soft freeform sculpture that people are allowed to play on. Though there is a sign cautioning everyone not to pop the bubble wrap. Ahem, Ella.

These are from an exhibit called Material World: Sculpture to Environment:

This one made us gasp. It's called Hoosac (after an infamous tunnel in the area, and the river, and the rail line) and is made out of fishing line strung through a large room, with a single light shining on it. (That's me in the first photo)

Tobias Putrih, Re-projection: Hoosac, 2010

And this sculpture made us gasp too:

Alyson Shotz, The Geometry of Light, 2010

The first exhibit we saw was from the artist Petah Coyne, titled "Everything That Rises Must Converge"

We weren't allowed to take pictures, but it was heartbreakingly beautiful. I will treasure the memory of this show. If you click here, you can find an officially sanctioned photo of part of the exhibit.

Here's the catalog. The cover has my favorite sculpture, a large (I do mean full-sized) black tree with taxidermied peacocks and some other bird, with black velvet roses and various other things attached. It sounds tacky as hell, but it was breathtaking:

They also had some of her photographs up, and I loved these as well (though they didn't do much for Bruce. Georgia and Ella were both fans of it though). I got some pictures of the inside of the catalog. These are photos of skirts:

If you have the chance to get to Mass MoCA before the Petah Coyne installation leaves (in February), PLEASE do so. It is really gorgeous.


  1. Thanks for sharing! It's been a long time since I've seen anything like that, so I'll take photos rather than nothing! :)

  2. There is one in every crowd that has to pop the bubble wrap. Wish they had something that interesting in Memphis.

  3. OMG!! don't have time right now to relish every single pic like I want to...but I WILL be back to do that. Lovely. So Lovely. Nothing like the beauty of a museum!
    like your new background too!!

  4. wow. there are so many cool things there. looks like a great visit. i like the blog makeover!

  5. That looks lovely, thanks for beautiful photos! I have never visited an exhibition like that, but now I can see that I have to do something about it. This looks way too cool to miss :-) I know there are modern art in Oslo, think I have to check it out.

  6. I just wish we could get some pics of the Coyne sculptures!

  7. Wow. This is incredible! Thanks for sharing. Love the free-form sculptures and who can resist bubble wrap!?! The fishing line. Wow. This would be awesome to visit.

  8. Fascinating. (Although I'll admit I'd have a hard time not popping the bubble wrap.)