65 Modern Art Books Available for Free Online

The Guggenheim has digitized 65 art catalogs and made them available online, free of charge. These texts include introductions to artists such as Kandinsky, Calder, and Munch as well as thematic introductions to modern art. Many of them contain full-color images.

If you have trouble using the online reader format (which includes an interactive page-turning feature), you can download PDFs and other versions at Archive.org.

Via Open Culture.

What’s Going on in the Smart Museum Lobby?

It’s the installation of “Uppers and Downers,” a new collaboration from Chris Vorhees and SIMPARCH. Click on this link for updates throughout the week.

Uppers and Downers reworks the familiar kitchen setup of cabinetry, countertop, and sink into an abstracted version of a massive rainbow arching over a waterfall. This kitschy natural scene plays upon the utopian promise that restraint yields bliss: if only you eliminate excess and organize clutter to hide messy reality behind stylish surfaces, then happiness will follow. Or perhaps not.

Via The Smart Museum of Art Facebook page.

Pierpont Morgan Online Exhibitions: The Black Hours

The Morgan Library and Museum features online exhibitions, including high quality, zoom-able digital images of works in the collection. A recent example of this is the digital facsimile of The Black Hours (MS M.493), a Book of Hours from 1470 created on vellum and stained or painted black:

The result is quite arresting. The text is written in silver and gold, with gilt initials and line endings composed of chartreuse panels enlivened with yellow filigree. Gold foliage on a monochromatic blue background makes up the borders. The miniatures are executed in a restricted palette of blue, old rose, and light flesh tones, with dashes of green, gray, and white.

The Met’s “Opportunity on Madison”

Last week The New York Times published an opinion piece titled “Opportunity on Madison,” or What the Met Should Do When It Moves into The Whitney. The author discusses The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s recent lease of The Whitney Museum’s Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue (to be vacated by The Whitney in 2015) and the Met’s decision to display collections of modern and contemporary art there.

I love the 1966 Breuer design. With its trapezoidal windows and stepped-back facade, it’s what the Guggenheim isn’t: starchitecture with the right amount of ego, meaning that it works for art. Almost everything looks good in it. And the Met’s residency, contracted to last at least eight years, seems like a great idea on paper. The Whitney Museum of American Art gets to keep its celebrated building, and the Met, which can never show more than a small fraction of its encyclopedic collection, gets some desperately needed space.

But the Met’s use of that space primarily for new art would be a big mistake.

What do you think? Should The Met utilize the space to house curated shows that include art from many eras, as the author suggests, or for contemporary and modern art, or something else?

John Baldessari: Your Name in Lights

Iconic American conceptual artist John Baldessari is looking for people who want their name in lights, but just for 15 glittering seconds.

Your Name in Lights reflects the changing cult of celebrity in modern society and recalls Andy Warhol’s prediction that in the future everyone will have their 15 minutes of fame. Drawing on imagery from Broadway theatre displays and Hollywood films, this ambitious new work will involve more than 100,000 participants.

Via Sydney Festival 2011. The Holland Festival and the Stedelijk Museum jointly present the new installation of this interactive artwork at Museumplein, Amsterdam from June 1 to 26, 2011. Register here and your name will appear in lights!

Digital Exhibitions from Newberry Library

Newberry Digital Exhibitions showcases cataloged, digitized materials that have been featured in past Newberry exhibitions. It recreates these exhibitions in digital form so that the information continues to be accessible even though the works have left the physical gallery space.

The newest digitized exhibitions include Illuminated Manuscripts and Printed Books: French Renaissance Gems of the Newberry Library and French Canadians in the Midwest.


Soviet Arts Experience

The Soviet Arts Experience is a 16-month-long collaborative showcase of artistic work created under the Politburo of the Soviet Union, from 1917 to 1991. This series of programs includes works of art, dance, concerts, lectures, and classes. Twenty-six of Chicago’s prominent arts institutions will present events through 2012.

A Soviet Arts Experience iPhone app has been created to help navigate the showcase’s many events. It includes embedded Google Maps and is available for free to download through the iTunes store.


Geometry and Architecture at the Graham Foundation

The current exhibition at the Graham Foundation, Anne Tyng: Inhabiting Geometry, explores the work of one of the first women to ever receive a fellowship from the Foundation, as well as one of the first women to receive a Masters of Architecture from Harvard University.

This exhibition presents the work of the visionary architect and theorist Anne Tyng. Since the 1950s, when she worked closely with Louis I. Kahn and independently pioneered habitable space-frame architecture, Tyng has applied natural and numeric systems to built forms on all scales, from urban plans to domestic spaces.

The exhibition will be on view in Chicago until June 18, 2011 at the Graham Foundation.

Department of Urban Speculation at the MCA

During the month of April an installation by Chicago architect Alex Lehnerer and his Department of Urban Speculation will be the featured UBS 12×12 exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art. This work, called Roadside Attractions,

looks at such ubiquitous and abundantly available urban elements, or “attractions” that are perpendicular to the road: doors, roofs, windows, lobbies, stairs, or walls. The exhibition examines how these can become protagonists, which, if exaggerated, over-extended, or misused, can form the urban between structure and situation.

The architect’s Department of Urban Speculation, founded in 2009,

was set up to create a link between Lehnerer’s work as practicing architect and urban designer and his academic role in the same fields.

Alex Lehnerer will give a free Artist Talk in conjunction with the exhibition on Tuesday, April 12th at 6pm. The “First Friday,” April 1st, marks the unofficial opening of the show. UBS 12 x 12 is a program at the MCA designed to feature new work by new artists. An archive of past exhibitions is available here.