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about the exhibition

About the Exhibition

Collection: MOCA’s First Thirty Years is a two-part exhibition that constitutes the largest-ever installation of MOCA’s permanent collection and reflects the museum’s early and ongoing commitment to bringing art of major historical significance and distinction to the public. Part one of Collection, on view at MOCA Grand Avenue, features works made between 1939 and 1979, organized chronologically beginning with Piet Mondrian’s Composition of Red, Blue, Yellow and White: Nom III (1939). The second part of Collection, on view at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, features works made during the last three decades—the period, beginning with the museum’s founding in 1979, during which MOCA has been actively acquiring works, organizing exhibitions, and engaging with artists in Los Angeles and beyond. Taken together, these two parts constitute a comprehensive historical survey of contemporary art from one of the world’s leading collections.

The portion of Collection on view at MOCA Grand Avenue traces a range of art-historical movements and styles since World War II, from abstract expressionism of the late 1940s and ’50s to pop, minimal, and conceptual art of the ’60s and ’70s, demonstrating the myriad ways contemporary art has addressed aesthetic, political, and philosophical concerns. The Grand Avenue presentation brings individual works illustrating specific styles or movements into dialogue with others from the same period that complement, expand, or even deviate from those styles; the presentation also focuses on key bodies of work by major figures such Diane Arbus, Robert Rauschenberg, and Mark Rothko. Part one of Collection demonstrates how artists working in traditional media such as painting or sculpture often interrogated the limitations and meanings of their chosen forms—for example, by making painting more three-dimensional or transforming discrete sculptures

into multipart installations—or employed non-traditional materials to investigate issues of form or process. Also apparent is how each artist manifested a desire to respond to the works of others, challenging art-historical assumptions and traditions in their attempts
to innovate and inspire.

Though much postwar art can be organized sequentially based on established styles and movements, since 1980 there has been a proliferation of concepts, forms, and media that has made such categorizations more complex. The portion of Collection on view at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA demonstrates this diversity of practice in the wide range of artists included as well as the exhibition layout, which emphasizes the variety that is a hallmark of contemporary art of the last three decades. No single approach dominates, yet works that seem quite different may be responding to similar issues or concerns. As the art world has become increasingly globalized and decentralized, MOCA has sought to engage simultaneously with artists in Los Angeles, in the United States, and internationally; in turn, this has broadened the museum’s holdings to include work from nearly every continent. So, too, has the dialogue around art deepened in terms of influence; works by well-established artists are displayed alongside those by artists they may have inspired or taught. Forging strong ties with artists since its inception, MOCA has built a collection that reflects the museum’s longstanding commitment to championing new ideas and developments in contemporary art and attests to the vision and generosity of the many artists, donors, and supporters who have given work to the museum for public benefit.

Collection: MOCA’s First Thirty Years is organized by MOCA Chief Curator Paul Schimmel.

Collection: MOCA’s First Thirty Years is presented by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

The exhibition is made possible by generous support from Wallis Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation; Anonymous; Maria and Bill Bell; Nicolas Berggruen; Kelly and Robert Day; Gagosian Gallery; The Suzanne M. Nora Johnson and David G. Johnson Foundation; Elena and Victor Pinchuk; The Steven F. Roth Family Foundation; Catharine and Jeffrey Soros; Dasha Zhukova; Ovation TV, the Official Network Partner of MOCA; Yannick Mathieu and Kimberly Chang; and The MOCA Contemporaries.

In-kind media support is provided by Los Angeles magazine and 89.9 KCRW FM.