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FOR THE RECORD: MOMA’S ORAL HISTORY PROJECT



For the record: MoMA’s oral history project
James Rosenquist and Ed Ruscha are among the artists talking about their work for posterity

By Erica Cooke. Museums, Issue 230, December 2011
Published online: 08 December 2011

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) will reinstall James Rosenquist’s F-111, 1964-65, recreating the way it was first installed in Leo Castelli’s Upper East Side gallery in 1965. Due to be unveiled shortly (the exact date has not yet been confirmed), the event complements the New York museum’s oral history project. MoMA’s curators and archivists are interviewing artists alongside their work in the collection. In addition to recording Rosenquist alongside F-111, they plan to interview Ed Ruscha and Vito Acconci. Dan Graham, Yvonne Rainer and Vija Celmins have already been interviewed.

The museum has collected oral histories for more than 20 years, but the 90 interviews in its archive primarily document “the machinations of the institution”, says Michelle Elligott, MoMA’s senior archivist, who is leading the institution’s Artist Oral History Initiative. The new project aims “to increase our understanding of artists’ ideas, intentions, working methods and specifically the materials and any sort of history or context that goes along with these products,” says Elligott. The project, which has a year’s initial funding thanks to an anonymous donor, began in the spring. If further funding is secured, the museum hopes to interview more artists on its 30-strong shortlist.

MoMA’s chief curator of painting and sculpture, Ann Temkin, is using archival photographs and documents to precisely recreate the space for which F-111 was originally made. “Rosenquist created the work for his show at the [Leo] Castelli Gallery in 1965. He used the gallery’s dimensions to configure the size of the painting,” which is 10ft high and 86ft wide.


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