BOOKS ON CURATORIAL AND MUSEUM STUDIES

PUBLISHER
The Museum of Modern Art, New York

BOOK FORMAT
Hardcover, 9 x 10.5 in. / 176 pgs / 204 color.

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D.A.P. Exclusive
Catalog: FALL 2018 p. 47   

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ISBN 9781633450509 TRADE
List Price: $45.00 CDN $60.00

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In stock

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THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK

René d'Harnoncourt and the Art of Installation

By Michelle Elligott.

René d'Harnoncourt and the Art of Installation

D'Harnoncourt redefined exhibition making and the parameters of art itself

René d'Harnoncourt served as the director of the Museum of Modern Art from 1949 to 1968, and was known for his conscientious approach to curating exhibitions and his genius for installation design and display. His interest in non-Western and non-modern art shaped much of MoMA's ambitious programming in the mid-20th century: in addition to shows addressing modern art, such as The Sculpture of Picasso (1968) and Modern Art in Your Life (1949), he organized exhibitions devoted to themes not generally associated with MoMA, including Indian Art of the United States (1941), Arts of the South Seas (1946), Ancient Arts of the Andes (1954) and Art of the Asmat: The Collection of Michael C. Rockefeller (1962).

This publication delves deep into the MoMA Archives to reveal d'Harnoncourt's mastery of installation through an essay by Michelle Elligott and an exploration of 12 of the exhibitions he installed at MoMA, each richly illustrated by d'Harnoncourt's mostly previously unpublished sketches alongside exhibition photographs. A master draftsman, d'Harnoncourt produced meticulous sketches of installation vistas as well as the objects included in his exhibitions. An illustrated chronology of d'Harnoncourt's life rounds out the volume, detailing his multifaceted journey from birth as a count into a landowning family in Austria, to his time as a commercial artist in Mexico, to his post working for Nelson A. Rockefeller in the US State Department (Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs), which eventually led to his appointment at MoMA.

Michelle Elligott is the Chief of Archives, Library, and Research Collections at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. She recently organized Devenir moderne, part of the MoMA exhibition Etre moderne at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. She codirected the Museum's widely acclaimed Exhibition History web archive project; coedited the institution's first self-published history, Art in Our Time: A Chronicle of The Museum of Modern Art (2004); and cocurated the MoMA PS1 exhibition 1969.


Michelle Elligott is Chief of Archives, Library, and Research Collections at The Museum of Modern Art, New York and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Museum Studies at New York University.

Featured image is reproduced from 'René d'Harnoncourt and the Art of Installation.'

PRAISE AND REVIEWS

Director of New York University’s Museum Studies Program

Bruce Altshuler

Deeply researched and beautifully presented, Michelle Elligott’s book on Rene d’Harnoncourt is an important contribution to the literature on the Museum of Modern Art and the development of contemporary exhibition-making. Documenting d’Harnoncourt’s curatorial and installation practice through his writings and revelatory drawings, the book gives a fascinating picture of the life and thought of one of the most important curators and museum directors of the 20th Century.

ARLIS/NA Reviews

Kenneth Soehner

D’Harnoncourt was a gifted artist and collector…. His is one of the many stories of exceptional curators and museum directors that has been waiting to be told. Thanks to Elligott’s artfully researched book we have a more informed understanding and appreciation of this famously amiable museum director and pioneer in museum installations…. a publication of striking originality and one worthy of its subject.

Hyperallergic

Laura Raicovich

d’Harnoncourt had a rare ability to engage deeply with objects across time, cultural specificity, and form…. a loving attention to the objects and paintings themselves that attempts to break down the cool touch of the museum.

René d'Harnoncourt and the Art of Installation

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FROM THE BOOK

Art Historian Jack Flam on René d'Harnoncourt and the Art of Installation

This handsomely designed and richly illustrated book provides a wonderfully comprehensive and detailed portrait of an extraordinary man. René D’Harnoncourt, the Director of The Museum of Modern Art between 1949 and 1968, was also an artist, writer, and master planner of exhibitions – which he continued to install even during his tenure as Director. Michelle Elligott combines a concise overview of the man and his work with a perceptive and richly illustrated appreciation of his pioneering approach to installation methodology. At the same time that d’Harnoncourt was defending modern art against those who thought it “to be at best frivolous and a hoax, or at worst part of a communist plot,” he was also revolutionizing the ways in which it could be presented. He emphasized affinities between modern art and works from many different cultures, and energized the flow of exhibition spaces in new ways by using moveable walls, innovative lighting, and emphasizing both the dramatic contrasts and underlying affinities between the works he showed. Handsomely designed and richly illustrated with Harnoncourt’s own drawings and layout plans as well as photographs and extensive documentation of his exhibitions, this book vividly evokes an especially great period in the history of The Museum of Modern Art.

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